Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oil & Gas Rules head to Gov. Ritter's Desk!



The Rule Review Bill (HB 1292) passes on 2nds

DENVER— Making sure Colorado has clean air and clean water. Protecting the health and safety of Colorado’s citizens. Strengthening our economy by keeping our workers healthy and allowing the oil and gas industry to thrive. Those are just a few things the new Rules Review bill does and HB 1292, which includes new rules for Oil and Gas, passed the Senate today on 2nd reading.

HB 1292 is sponsored by Senator Jennifer Veiga (D-Denver) in the Senate. “The rule review process is a limited process to look at Executive Branch rules to see if they have exceeded the statutory authority we have given them. We have both generally and specifically given the Oil and Gas Commission the authority to manage and balance the needs of the oil and gas industry with wildlife and natural resources protections. The Commission has done that in this omnibus rules bill and we have found the rules are appropriate.”

Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass):The rules protect our environment, our drinking water supplies, our groundwater, our clean air standards, and our wildlife habitat. They reflect a balance of competing interests, and respond to industry concerns ensuring the on-going vitality of energy development in Colorado which is one of Colorado’s most important industries. I am acutely aware of the Legislature’s responsibility to balance our state’s economic, environmental, and public health priorities, and I am confident that we have done so in the case of these new rules.”

Sen. Joyce Foster (D-Denver): “There is no question rigs are down because oil and gas prices are down. Drilling has slowed recently in Colorado, but drilling has slowed in other states as well because of falling natural gas prices, the economy, and limitations on pipeline capacity. The economy is killing jobs – not oil and gas rules.”

The rules protect drinking water supplies, groundwater, and clean air standards, and will ensure safety for oil and gas and emergency responders by requiring disclosure of industrial chemicals. They add critical protections for wildlife, a precious natural resource that generates massive income for our tourism and outdoor recreation industries. The rules also protect private property rights. At the same time, the rules won’t harm the oil and gas industry. The rules offer more predictable timelines for permit processing and incentives for longer-term planning.

This was the most extensive rulemaking hearing in the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s (COGCC) history. During more than 21 days of hearings, the Commission heard approximately 12 hours of public comment by about 200 people and another 75 hours of testimony from about 160 party and staff witnesses. It also reviewed thousands of pages of written comment, witness testimony, and exhibits, addressed dozens of legal motions, and conducted more than 70 hours of deliberations. The resulting rules reflect substantial input from local governments, the oil and gas industry, property owners, and conservation groups.

HB 1292 was sponsored by Rep. Anne McGihon in the House.

The bill will now head to the Governor’s desk.