Wildlife rules aren’t blocking gas drilling

The announcement this week that the state of Colorado has reached agreements with 10 major energy companies operating in the Piceance Basin to protect wildlife habitat on more than 355,000 acres of western Colorado’s landscape is a good indication that gas drilling and wildlife protection aren’t incompatible, and that state gas regulations aren’t halting drilling.

The agreements were negotiated over the past 18 months, with the most recent one involving 150,000 acres controlled by ExxonMobil Corp. Companies that consult with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to produce wildlife mitigation plans for broad resource areas before drilling begins are subject to a streamlined permitting process for new wells.

That was one of the provisions included in the regulations adopted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and approved by the state Legislature last year. Some critics of the new rules have argued that the wildlife requirements in this part of the state were so onerous and costly that they would drive gas companies out of the region.

But supporters of the new rules — and The Daily Sentinel has long been among that group — have maintained that the rules simply provide new means of protecting the environment, not measures aimed at driving the gas industry from Colorado.

The state and the 10 companies involved in these agreements have demonstrated that industry can continue to work and protect Colorado’s invaluable wildlife resources. We congratulate all of the companies and state authorities involved.


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