Energy policy — oil and gas: The Colorado Oil and Gas Association to drop lawsuit over exploration and production rules

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From the Colorado Independent (David O. Williams):

In a joint release from COGA, the state’s oil and gas industry lobbying group, and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, officials said the dismissal of the lawsuit stemmed from talks between COGA board members and newly appointed Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Mike King.

Even during the 2010 midterm elections, the new, more environmentally friendly drilling regs — which give higher priority to air and water quality, wildlife habitat and public safety — were held up by some Republican candidates as job-killing and unnecessary rules that were forcing the industry out of the state. Democrats and most state regulators countered that the industry was slumping due to the global recession, not the more balanced drilling regs.

COGCC director David Neslin previously told The Colorado Independent that industry complaints were on the wane as permit backlogs were being cleared up. State wildlife officials last summer announced a comprehensive wildlife mitigation plan — agreed to by the state’s top drilling outfits — that would streamline that process. Still, the COGA suit, which focused on what the industry group claimed was a flawed approval process, loomed over the public debate.

“This heralds what we hope will be a new era of collaboration and predictability in the development of our energy resources,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in the release. “It’s important to get beyond old fights and move ahead to develop Colorado’s abundant natural gas and protect our environment at the same time.”

Newly elected COGA Chairman Scott Moore, of Anadarko, echoed the sentiments of Hickenlooper, a former geologist: “Abundant, affordable, clean burning natural gas is a cornerstone of Colorado’s energy, economic, and environmental solutions moving forward. The Hickenlooper administration clearly recognizes this and is committed to a balanced and engaged dialogue moving forward.”

Some are afraid the new administration may be too friendly with the state’s oil and gas industry. That fear was not assuaged by comments Hickenlooper made recently in The New York Times: “We should drill the living daylights out of natural gas and cut regulation.”

From the Associated Press via Bloomberg:

The association sued the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission over the rules but said it is dropping the suit after discussions with the administration of newly elected Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former geologist…

COGA President and CEO Tisha Conoly Schuller said: “The new administration clearly recognizes the valuable contribution Colorado’s oil and gas industry makes to the economy and the importance of Colorado natural gas in reducing air pollution. We are confident that going forward we will have a place at the table and our concerns will be fairly considered.”

Colorado Environmental Coalition Executive Director Elise Jones applauded COGA’s decision to drop the lawsuit. “The rules have been very successful in reducing drilling impacts on Colorado’s communities, water supplies and wildlife even as permit review times have decreased,” she said.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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