Colorado oil, gas rules clear another hurdle | AspenTimes.com
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Colorado oil, gas rules clear another hurdle

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” New rules for oil and gas drilling won approval from the Colorado Legislature’s rules committee on Wednesday, despite objections from the industry that they give too much power to homeowners and landowners.

The Committee on Legal Services decided the rules meet the guidelines set by lawmakers when they directed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to draw them up last year.

They now go to the full Senate, where another tough battle is expected.



Ken Wonstolen, attorney for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group, said the rules create a new protected class of surface owners who would get two chances to stop mineral owners from drilling on their property.

Wonstolen said the industry was assured that the intention was to persuade surface owners and mineral owners to reach agreements on drilling limits before a permit was issued. The rules that were drafted would allow surface owners to appeal within 10 days after a permit has been issued.




“Now we have this opportunity for surface owners to bring forth broad claims under the rubric of health, safety, welfare and the environment after that process, after (the) permit has been decided and approved,” he said.

He said some surface owners are “recalcitrant,” and the new rules give them the ability to delay the permitting procedure late in the process.

Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, said the industry is concerned that the state hasn’t reached an agreement with the federal government over how the rules will be applied on federal land, even though those rules are scheduled to go into effect in May.

Dempsey said state rules conflict with federal rules on issues like the distance for setbacks from streams, leaving drilling companies wondering who is in charge.

“We object to the application of state rules on federal lands,” Dempsey said.

Dave Neslin, acting director of the Oil and Gas Commission, said surface owners are allowed to appeal only on such issues as health, safety and welfare, and they cannot use an appeal to renegotiate contracts.

Neslin said allowing the appeals is a quicker and less expensive alternative to going to court.

Neslin said other states impose rules on federal lands inside their borders and the courts have upheld those powers.


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