Mountain States

‘Completely Unacceptable’: COGCC Overruled Voters, Now Insults Colorado’s Oil & Natural Gas Workers

You can see a pattern developing at the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission and it shows a clear bias against the energy industry in the state. In September, the commission ignored the will of the voters by unilaterally extending setback distances. Now, staffers there have been caught insulting the energy companies it regulates, according to a report from CBS4 Denver:

“CBS4 has learned that staff members at COGCC were testing a new e-filing system when they inadvertently sent an email to hundreds of oil and gas workers across the state. The email called the companies they work for names that you don’t expect from people who are supposed to be fair and unbiased.

“The email arrived early Sunday morning with a list of oil and gas companies that had upcoming hearings. The names of the companies included ‘Snake Oil Inc.,’ it’s law firm ‘Blah Blah Blah’ and its cause or case number ‘666’ – a designation for the devil. Other names included ‘Acme Company,’ ‘Bad Oil and Gas,’ ‘Really Rich,’ ‘Here We Go Again,’ and ‘The Lorax’ – a Dr. Seuss character that warns about environmental destruction.”

This latest news raises questions about the COGCC’s ability to objectively and faithfully conduct the rulemaking process under SB 181. Sure, the law may have changed the mission of COGCC from aiming to “foster” oil and natural gas development to “regulate” the industry. But it is unclear how outright hostility towards oil and natural gas workers across Colorado is in keeping with the spirit of that new mission.

The inappropriate and unprofessional insults from COGCC staffers follow the action of four commissioners to override the public by extending the setback distance of oil and natural gas operations from 500 feet to 2,000 feet. Colorado voters rejected such a policy just two years ago by a 57 to 43 margin. Now, it’s reported the COGCC is considering an increased, rigid setback around wildlife areas. These new setbacks would prohibit a significant amount of energy production in Colorado, kill thousands of jobs, and trim billions of dollars from the state’s economy and tax revenue base.

The current COGCC commissioners were personally appointed by Gov. Jared Polis after he was elected to office in the same year that voters sent a strong message that they want a robust oil and natural gas industry in the state.

Unfortunately, these comments appear to run counter to the agency’s mission as Polis reminded the commission leadership to “make sure all employees at COGCC understand their responsibility to the oil and gas industry and its workers.”

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