Bradford, Buescher clash over delay in releasing drilling rules

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s delays in releasing a set of comprehensive drilling regulations has hurt the state’s business environment, Republican House District 55 candidate Laura Bradford said Thursday at a community forum.

“While the (commission) has been saying since August they would release their findings … and we have not yet heard from them,” Bradford told a crowd of more than 50 in the Central High School auditorium.

“We need rules and regulations to come out sooner than later,” she added.

Bradford said Plains Exploration and Production Co.’s September decision to pull out of northwest Colorado’s Piceance Basin shows the danger regulatory uncertainty has levied on the oil and gas industry.

State Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, replied that he is happy to let the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission work through the rules rather than rush them out.

“Take your time. Do this right,” Buescher said. “Haste in this instance will make waste. I believe most of the oil and gas industry agrees with that.”

Buescher said the one section of regulations the commission has labored over in its extended rule-making process deals with balancing wildlife protections with the need for energy production.

The commission has been working since last year to overhaul its regulations for the energy industry. The rule-making process was one of the central features of Gov. Bill Ritter’s top priorities during the 2007 legislative session.

Buescher and Bradford have both criticized the initial drafts of the energy regulations are overreaching.

Bradford, taking one step further than Buescher, suggested during a Tuesday forum that the oil and gas commission should be dissolved until 2009 because of the harm she said it has caused for the energy industry.

She did not revisit that position Thursday.


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