Last week the task force appointed by Governor Hickenlooper to examine oil and gas regulation in Colorado issued its final report. The draft document comes as state leaders and the energy industry have been debating what role local governments should have in regulating the industry.
In issuing its conclusions, the report did not break any new ground. Instead, it focused on the need for improving collaboration and coordination between the state, industry and communities, as energy development expands, particularly near urban and residential areas.
While members of the task force discussed jurisdictional issues regarding substantive regulations, they determined that drawing bright lines between state and local jurisdictional authority was neither realistic nor productive. The authority to regulate what happens at or under well sites, including hydraulic fracturing operations, will remain the domain of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).
This is the right tone, according to Mike King, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, under which the COGCC functions.
The Task Force does not make recommendations for new laws, but instead recommends a collaborative process through which issues can be resolved
without litigation or new legislation, King wrote
in a letter to the governor.
One of the COGCC initiatives that task force members welcomed is the local government designee (LGD). While they wont have any enforcement responsibility, the local designees can bring issues of concern directly to the COGCC.
The LGD is the person who takes the requests, concerns and comments of local citizens to the attention of the COGCC. They answer to their local government board or commission, so the position is not merely a figurehead, says King. The LGD is the key to a robust process for us.
The task force wants to see the local government designees receive training and oversight from the COGCC. The hope is that by bringing the latest information to local governments regarding drilling practices, the designees will then have the ability to identify issues and bring resolve and accountability.
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Faith Winter, Program Director of the Colorado Conservation and an organization that had a seat on the task force, said Enhancing the local government designee process is really going to increase accountability, which will ultimately help protect public health and the environment.
Editors Note: With the final task force report now a matter of public record, Colorado Energy News thought it would be a good time to check in with Mike King of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources on how his organization is balancing energy development with community concerns. You can read the full post in the premiere edition of Niobrara Report, the new digital magazine that tracks energy news and policy developments in the region.