Email your senator to ensure the COGCC works for people, not industry
It’s not often a good oil and gas bill gets introduced in the Colorado General Assembly, so when it happens we need to make a joyful noise in support.
Sen. Matt Jones (D-Longmont) has introduced Senate Bill 16-129, titled Neutral Oversight of Oil and Gas Activities. The bill would amend the mandate of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the agency responsible for permitting oil and gas development in Colorado.
Specifically, SB 16-129 would make a single but profound word substitution, declaring the COGCC’s mission to be to “administer” – rather than to “foster” – the development of Colorado’s oil and gas resources.
Although it’s only a small word switch to a state statute, the result would help level the playing field between industry and impacted communities who rely on the COGCC for resolution of conflicts. (See full text of the bill here.) For too long, the COGCC has been an agency fundamentally structured in favor of oil and gas companies, leaving impacted people disenfranchised.
Notes WCC of Mesa County member Karen Sjoberg: “The recommendation to change the COGCC into a balanced agency was one of the only good things to come out of the Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force.”
Reasons to support SB 129:
- For decades, WCC has worked with people dealing with the negative impacts of oil and gas on their property, health and quality of life. However, so often our efforts have been hamstrung by a biased agency that structurally puts industry’s interests before those of our communities.
- Impacted people deserve fair treatment before a neutral agency that makes balanced decisions to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.
- The current mission statement does include language charging the COGCC with protection of public health and safety. However, because the COGCC must “foster” the development of oil and gas, these issues are secondary to industry interests.
- This bill is inspired by a recommendation from Gov. Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force, charged with making policy recommendations to resolve the growing conflicts between the industry and communities. The recommendation was supported by 62% of the final vote, and deserves to be enacted.