Award shows state works with industry

It won’t change the minds of those who firmly believe Colorado lawmakers and former Gov. Bill Ritter intentionally set out to destroy the state’s oil and gas industry with new regulations implemented a few years ago. Even so, a national award given to the state this summer is evidence that state officials were looking for ways to improve the permitting process for the industry, not simply trying to impose stricter environmental and health rules.

The state won a 2011 Council of State Governments Innovations Award in Natural Resources for the “eForm” system implemented by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission beginning in 2009. It allows for the online completion of regulatory documents related to oil and gas drilling and is aimed at helping to speed up the permitting process. It offers the added benefit of transparency, allowing the public to view and comment on applications.

The award is solid national recognition for the eForm system. But more important is whether the industry is using it. And there’s good news on that front, as well. Within six months after the program was established, more than 80 percent of the forms submitted   by the industry were filed using the eForm system, the state said.

That shouldn’t come as a great surprise. With a few exceptions, such as our military, private industry has always been well ahead of government when it comes to technological innovation. And there’s little reason today that online filing shouldn’t be available for nearly all government documents. Indeed, that any government entity still requires that a piece of paper be handed from one human being to another is embarrassing. For more than 10 years, the standard of competency in business transactions has been electronic transmission.

Still, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is ahead of many other states in that regard. That’s why it won the award and why a number of other states are now using Colorado’s eForm system as a model.

A speedier document filing system won’t make or break the oil and gas industry in this state, of course. Gas prices, delivery systems and the availability of significant pools of economically recoverable gas remain the key factors.

Still, the national award and the solid use of the eForm system by the industry are deserving of recognition by Coloradans. We also appreciate the nod toward greater transparency in the natural gas industry that this award signals.


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