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Task force issues recommendations on oil and gas laws in Colorado

The state is debating the role of local governments in regulating oil and gas extraction.

Oil and gas extraction in Colorado remains a hot topic in Colorado. On Tuesday, February 24, activists said they would attempt to put a measure on the 2016 ballot to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state. A task force commissioned by Governor John Hickenlooper in August issued recommendations on February 27 regarding local regulation on oil and gas extraction. In the meanwhile, Colorado’s abundant natural resources continue to be a source of economic development for oil and gas extractors.

Task force recommendations submitted to Governor Hickenlooper

Governor John Hickenlooper created the task force last August to help issue recommendations over land-use conflicts between local communities and oil and gas extraction companies. Governor Hickenlooper created the task force in lieu of having two initiatives placed on the November 2014 ballot, which would have asked the people of Colorado to decide local control over drilling and whether drill rigs would have to be 2,000 feet from the nearest residential building.

The task force issued its recommendations on February 27, 2014, which included allowing local communities to sit at decisions on site locations at an early stage. However, seven proposals that would have increased the ability of local governments to regulate oil and gas extraction failed to get two-thirds of the vote required to recommend to the governor.

None of the task force’s recommendations will be binding to local or state government. Nevertheless the task force recommendations are expected to carry some weight with legislators and influence the debate moving forward. In addition, many of the proposals are regulatory changes that can be made without needing new legislation passed by state legislators.

For example, one proposal that passed with unanimous support would have large operations provide plans to local governments to agree on a drill site. If the local government and operator could not agree, they would enter into mediation. This regulatory change would not require any new legislation. Other recommendations issued by the task force include:

  • Adding staff to the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission.
  • Funding a study on ways to mitigate traffic congestion caused by oil and gas. extraction.
  • Creating a compliance program used to help operators comply with state regulations.

In all, the task force sent nine recommendations to the governor’s desk. The task force voted on 36 proposals.

Help with legal issues

Fracking, along with more traditional mining and oil extraction, have provided numerous economic opportunities in Colorado, even as the practice remains politically charged. The focus on the fracking boom in Colorado means that regulators and the legislature will continue to focus on its impact to Colorado roads, homes and the environment.

In addition to regulatory compliance, extractors in Colorado face numerous legal obstacles and potential issues – from oil and gas mineral leasing rights to joint operating agreements. At Wick and Trautwein, LLC, our attorneys have experience in helping extractors overcome legal obstacles. Oil and gas extractors currently considering expansion, obtaining speculation or mineral rights, or otherwise in need of legal help should contact our experienced attorneys to discuss their situation and legal options.

Keywords: Oil and gas extraction, fracking, environmental regulation, property rights, mineral rights, local regulations.