Maes, McInnis out to overturn oil, gas rules

Regulations suggested by Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioners and adopted by the Colorado Legislature in May could be on their way out if a Republican wins the governorship next November.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes told The Daily Sentinel’s editorial board Monday that he would work to repeal the new batch of rules as soon as possible if elected. When contacted for a response, Sean Duffy, a spokesman for Scott McInnis’ Republican campaign for governor, said McInnis is eyeing the same possibility.

“His (McInnis’) gripe is that these are not best practices that would improve environmental protection. He views them as punitive,” Duffy said.

McInnis would have a conversation with people from the environment and energy industries before wiping the new regulations completely from the commission rules, Duffy said.

Maes of Evergreen said his decision is made and that he would fly to rig sites himself to inspect the situation if he heard there may be practices detrimental to the environment going on. He added he wants the state to be known as a great place to drill for natural gas and would like to use increased severance tax revenue to cut other taxes.

“I want to see the Western Slope’s energy industry driving our state economy,” he said.

Maes acknowledged he “will never have the money that Scott has” to operate a campaign. But he’s “OK with that.” His goal for now is to attract delegates for the county caucus through visits across the state and word of mouth, then gather more funds.

Maes said he decided to start at the top instead of climbing the legislative ladder to the governor’s seat because he has an executive background.

“I’m not a politician,” Maes said. “I don’t care to debate much so the Legislature wouldn’t be the place for me.”

He wouldn’t mind debating McInnis or Gov. Bill Ritter, though. He especially wants to challenge McInnis on being conservative. Maes said he’s a fiscal and social conservative, although he said he will not push his social agenda unless asked by constituents if elected governor.

As for McInnis, Maes said, “Fiscally he’s got some nice feathers in his cap, but he’s not much of a fiscal conservative.”

“I don’t know what he means by that,” Duffy responded. He said McInnis will allow Colorado voters to decide if the fees created by the FASTER bill should stick around and he will reinstate the rule taken out in this year’s session that 6 percent of the state budget should be set aside each year.

The FASTER bill is something Maes is not a fan of, although he said some “minor” fee increases could make sense. He wants to cut up to 4,000 jobs, although he hasn’t decided which jobs could face the ax. He believes the state needs to “trim the fat” in higher education spending and would consider privatizing some public colleges.

K–12 education receives a funding increase of inflation plus 1 percent under Amendment 23. Although the 1 percent increase expires in 2011, Maes said the amendment may have to go now that K–12 education funding takes up about 43 percent of the state budget.

“Amendment 23 has been a hog at the trough for 10 years,” he said. “I don’t see that K–12 should be more important than higher education.”


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