Working for Safe Energy Development in Colorado
Posted January 12, 2017
Last year the Colorado Supreme Court struck down hydraulic fracturing bans adopted in two cities, ruling that state law allowing hydraulic fracturing trumps local bans and moratoria. Currently, the city of Broomfield is considering a temporary fracking moratorium. The Colorado Petroleum Council represents all facets of the oil and natural gas industry in Colorado, supporting more than 200,000 jobs and where it provided $29.6 billion in state economic activity and $1.6 billion in revenue to the state in 2012 alone.
Member companies of the Colorado Petroleum Council (CPC) have invested billions of dollars in Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry. Together with those members, CPC is committed to ensuring a strong, viable oil and natural gas industry capable of meeting the energy needs of Colorado in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
In the City of Broomfield, any oil and natural gas development will be carried out subject to strict state and federal regulations, including regulations that specifically address the rights of local governments. Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Act was enacted to “foster the responsible, balanced development, production, and utilization of the natural resources of oil and gas in the state of Colorado in a manner consistent with protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources,” to “protect the public and private interests against waste,” and to “enforce the coequal and correlative rights of owners.”
Pursuant to the act, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has enacted detailed and comprehensive regulations of oil and gas development in Colorado. Among other provisions, the regulations include well permitting requirements; standards for casing and cementing of wells; minimum setbacks from buildings, roads, and utility lines; site reclamation standards; fire and blow-out prevention measures; aesthetic and noise control standards; measures for the protection of wildlife; bonding requirements; and public disclosure of chemical additives used during well stimulation. Under federal law, operations are also required to comply with regulations governing air emissions, releases to the environment, worker health and safety, and community right-to-know requirements.
Colorado’s regulations also allow local governments to create Local Government Designees, who are authorized to receive information from the COGCC and well operators, and to participate in the development of comprehensive drilling plans. Compared to other states, it is the experience of CPC member companies that Colorado possesses some of the very strongest, if not the strongest, regulations regarding oil and natural gas development in the nation, including unequaled provisions related to local government participation and input. CPC and its members are fully committed to working with the City of Broomfield and its Local Government Designee on this and other critical issues pertaining to energy development.
In addition, CPC members have recently created a consensus recommended practice on “Community Engagement Guidelines.” This document instructs operators on how to incorporate local input into their planning. It also reminds and educates companies on how to be “a good neighbor throughout the full project life cycle” by recommending “ongoing dialogue with local communities and other key stakeholders,” among other things.
By working collaboratively with local governments and community members before, during, and after operations, CPC and its members seek to avoid conflicts before they arise and do what’s best for the shared interests of industry and the communities where we work.
About The Author
Tracee Bentley was named executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council in 2015. Before coming to API, Bentley served in the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper as legislative director and as a senior advisor on energy and agricultural issues. Prior to that, Bentley served in the Colorado Energy Office as deputy director of policy and legislative affairs. She also served as director of national affairs with the Colorado Farm Bureau. A Colorado native, Bentley earned her Bachelor of Arts and her Master of Arts from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
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