Editorial: New energy legislation should bring an end to state’s oil, gas wars

Senate Bill 181 dramatically altered how oil and gas operations are regulated in the state, giving new authority to local governments and broadening the mission and membership of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The bill altered the mission of the COGCC from one of fostering oil and gas development to one of regulating such activities, thereby prioritizing public health and safety.

Local governments now have much greater authority to regulate energy production within their boundaries, allowing them to establish setback rules for new wells, for example.

Gov. Jared Polis, in signing the bill, expressed hope that the state’s oil and gas wars are over.

We echo that sentiment.

However, it’s clear that hostility and knee-jerk reactions from industry and those opposed to it continue to flare up. At the first meeting of the expanded COGCC, environmental activists sought a statewide moratorium on new oil and gas permits. The COGCC rejected that demand, however, arguing that it would run counter to the purpose of SB-181.

On the other side, energy-sector proponents have pushed for a ballot measure to repeal SB-181 entirely, with a ballot measure hinted at for 2020.

We don’t know how that effort will fare, but it’s encouraging that energy-industry executives have expressed renewed commitment to Colorado oil and gas development, even in the wake of SB-181. It doesn’t hurt that about 90 percent of the state’s oil production comes from Weld County, which remains staunchly in support of the energy sector. (About one-third of the state’s natural-gas production also comes from Weld.)

So, while communities such as Broomfield might impose moratoria on oil and gas drilling to provide time for new regulations, it seems that SB-181 has not wrought economic devastation on the sector — at least not yet.

We expect that the governor, legislators and regulators will monitor not only what effect the new law has on health and safety but also on the energy sector itself, which contributes billions of dollars to the Colorado economy.

Are the energy wars over? It largely depends on the rulemaking that occurs at the state level. On the one hand, passage of the bill removed a great deal of uncertainty about what would occur. Going forward, measured actions by the state and municipalities likely will mute opposition to SB-181. But if regulators at the state and local level go too far and threaten the viability of the energy sector, look for the battle lines to be drawn once again.

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An end to Colorado’s oil wars?

Senate Bill 181 dramatically altered how oil and gas operations are regulated in the state, giving new authority to local governments and broadening the mission and membership of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The bill altered the mission of the COGCC from one of fostering oil and gas development to one of regulating such activities, thereby prioritizing public health and safety.

Local governments now have much greater authority to regulate energy production within their boundaries, allowing them to establish setback rules for new wells, for example.

Gov. Jared Polis, in signing the bill, expressed hope that the state’s oil and gas wars are over.

We echo that sentiment.

However, it’s clear that hostility and knee-jerk reactions from industry and those opposed to it continue to flare up. At the first meeting of the expanded COGCC, environmental activists sought a statewide moratorium on new oil and gas permits. The COGCC rejected that demand, however, arguing that it would run counter to the purpose of SB-181.

On the other side, energy-sector proponents have pushed for a ballot measure to repeal SB-181 entirely, with a ballot measure hinted at for 2020.

We don’t know how that effort will fare, but it’s encouraging that energy-industry executives have expressed renewed commitment to Colorado oil and gas development, even in the wake of SB-181. It doesn’t hurt that about 90 percent of the state’s oil production comes from Weld County, which remains staunchly in…