DENVER — — Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced the creation of a task force charged with crafting recommendations to help minimize land use conflicts that can occur when siting oil and gas facilities near homes, schools, businesses and recreational areas.
“Colorado is fortunate to have an abundance of energy resources, and we have an obligation to develop them in a way that is safe for our residents, supports jobs and the economy, respects private property rights and protects our environment,” Hickenlooper said.
“The work of this task force will provide an alternative to ballot initiatives that, if successful, would have regulated the oil and gas industry through the rigidity of Constitutional amendments and posed a significant threat to Colorado’s economy. This approach will put the matter in the hands of a balanced group of thoughtful community leaders, business representatives and citizens who can advise the legislature and the executive branch on the best path forward.”
The 18-member task force, chaired by La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt and Randy Cleveland, president of XTO Energy, Inc., will represent the broad interests of those involved in responsible oil and gas development including members of the oil and gas industry, agricultural industry, the home building industry, the conservation community, local governments and civic leaders. This group will have the power to make recommendations to the legislature with a two-thirds majority, or issue majority and minority opinions.
“Today’s announcement is a victory for the people of Colorado and the movement to enact sensible fracking regulations,” Congressman Jared Polis said. “For the first time, citizens will be on equal footing to the oil and gas industry, and able to negotiate directly for regulations that protect property rights, homes values, clean water, and air quality. I am pleased that we were able to come together, and today’s agreement is meaningful progress toward sensible fracking regulations.”
In a good faith effort to help bring parties together to resolve these issues, Hickenlooper announced that he would ask the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to dismiss the Longmont litigation challenging the ordinance and called upon all parties to pull down ballot initiatives on this topic.
Hickenlooper expressed confidence in Colorado’s existing set of regulations as developed and enforced by the COGCC and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Those agencies have undertaken four major rulemakings addressing oil and gas development since 2011. That included a year-long public process to develop a new setback standard, which took effect last year.
“Recognizing the value of energy and our environment, and managing that balance, can be difficult but it’s something we’ve always been able to do in Colorado. Collectively, we have one of the strongest regulatory approaches in the country, and we will continue to build on that record to protect our world-class environment while providing the flexibility necessary to develop our important energy resources,” Hickenlooper said.