Drilling task force recommends more local oversight

DENVER – More local oversight over oil and gas drilling companies appears to be the key recommendation of the Governor’s Oil and Gas Taskforce, a group that wrapped up its work Wednesday.

The task force recommended that “local government designees” get training and oversight from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state authority in charge of oil and gas drilling, according to a draft recommendation document. Funding for the new staff and training was not addressed in the draft recommendation document. Gov. John Hickenlooper formed the task force in February with 18 representatives from around the state.

The task force was told to look at state and local rules for oil and gas drilling and to issue recommendations on how to make them work together better.

Adding “local government designees” would help get more people involved in the approval and inspection process for oil and gas drilling, the Colorado Conservation Voters group said. Local governments would be able to have more say in what has become a hot-button issue in certain areas of the state, said Chris Arend, a spokesman for the political nonprofit group.

“The state does not have many inspectors, so this will provide increased oversight of oil and gas activity,” Arend said. “It allows local government to know more about what’s going on in their communities in oil and gas activity.”

Oil and gas drilling setbacks from homes, schools and natural areas still need to be addressed more clearly, however, Arend said.

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