DENVER Following a single-month record for drilling permit requests, oil and gas development applications have dropped dramatically in the wake of stricter rules.Energy companies filed for 34 applications since April 1, when the new rules were implemented on nonfederal lands. The Grand Junction Sentinel reports the sharp decline in applications comes after companies requested a record 1,470 permits in March nearly double the previous one-month record of 784 to beat the April 1 deadline.Applications submitted before that date will be reviewed under the previous rules.The new rules require regulators to give more consideration to the environment, wildlife and public health and safety when approving oil and gas development.Energy companies say state regulators didn't fully consider the impacts of the new rules on their operations and finances. They also worry it may take longer for permits to be approved.Meg Collins, president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, said Friday the companies wanted to file for permits before April 1 because the "industry still doesn't know fully what impact the rules will have on the permitting timeframes.""It's vital that energy companies have an adequate inventory of permits so they can continue to develop our abundant energy resources," Collins said.The new rules were the result of more than 18 months of meetings and deliberations by regulators, oil and gas officials, environmentalists, landowners and others. The new regulations were implemented throughout most of the state in April, except in federal lands, where they take effect July 1. State regulators delayed the start of the rules on federal lands because they wanted to see whether there were any conflicts between state and federal laws.
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