Statewide Moratorium Rejected, Industry Speaks with United Voice at COGCC Meeting
A newly-reorganized Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) held another meeting today as they continue the rulemaking process for the recently passed oil and gas legislation. The meeting started with the introduction of new commissioners that were appointed by Governor Jared Polis last week. The commissioners come from a diverse array of backgrounds and will be play an instrumental role in implementing SB 181 and authorizing new permits.
It was the first time the commissioners had the chance to hear public comments as they received feedback from industry leaders and activists for nearly three hours.
Statewide Moratorium Immediately Ruled Out.
Activists groups, who have often used stunts to take over COGCC meetings appeared disorganized from the onset with many of their key leaders missing. And repeated calls for a statewide moratorium on new permits was quickly rejected at the start of the meeting by COGCC Director Jeff Robbins.
“One of the themes I did hear at the ALJ hearing, was numerous members of the public have asked me and asked this commission that it should immediately ban or put into a place a moratorium on any and all new permits until all of the rules have been adopted. That, I believe is contrary to intent of Senate Bill 181. Senate Bill 181 specifically stated that we should create objective criteria, which we have done. And that the objective criteria should be used to put a prism of 181 in protection of public health, safety, welfare, and the environment on the process of potentially permitting during the space between now and all the rules that have to be adopted. That’s what I plan on doing. That is what the administration has suggested that we should do, and that’s what we will continue to do.”
These “Keep It In The Ground” activists never supported SB 181 during the legislative process and now their campaign for a statewide mortarium based on the law came to a quick end today.
Industry Makes Strong Showing, Proud to be Part of Colorado Economy.
In stark contrast to disorganized activists, leading members of the Colorado oil and gas industry spoke on behalf of their companies before the commission saying they are a crucial segment of the Colorado economy and seek to be active participants in the rulemaking process.
Dan Haley, the president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA), said he wants his organization to be a resource for the COGCC and touted the good work his members companies do in responsible development.
“The industry is a key part of our state’s economy. We recognize the importance of having a robust set of rules and regulations to ensure the state’s environment remains protected. But it’s also important to make Colorado a state where oil and gas companies want to do business, where the rules and regulations are stable and predictable.”
Haley explained that Colorado has led the way in engagement around development and that the industry is committed to maintaining that dialogue.
“Our members remain committed to maintaining a strong focus on health and safety and are committed to producing resources better and safer than ever before. Colorado has been a model for the rest of the country for constructive engagement of coming together as diverse stakeholders and doing the difficult work of hashing out our differences and finding solutions that work for Colorado.”
Following Haley, a number of oil and gas workers took the opportunity to speak about their work and the important role they play in local communities and the economy. An engineering manager with Great Western Oil & Gas discussed the dramatic improvements in industry operating standards in the past decade:
“The tools and techniques we use today are dramatically better than those used even 10 years ago, much less 50, as we deliver safe, cost-effective energy to Coloradans from all walks of life. Cooperative problem solving over the decades has reduced cost, lowered our OSHA incident rates and improved transparencies for all stakeholders.”
And an oil & gas worker explained how his company is operating near his house and he has no concerns over safety because of industry practices
“The first seven wells our company drilled were about 800 feet behind my house where I raised my kids and family. … I didn’t worry one night and certainty through the production process or any of that at this location of the Myer wells in West Greeley while they were drilling, completing, or operating these wells because I’m in the industry, I’ve vetted it, I know the folks that work for us as contractors and in-house folks.”
More Rulemaking Hearings Lie Ahead.
It’s just the beginning for the SB 181 rulemaking process as the new COGCC takes shape. Last week, Director Robbins said the whole process could takes “years.”
A number of procedural events will take place over the next few weeks before the final prehearing conference happens on June 7 and the commission rulemaking hearing on June 17 and 18.