2019 #COleg: #Colorado Senate Transportation and Energy Committee passes [SB19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil And Gas Operations] 4-3 after 12 hours of testimony #KeepItInTheGround #ActOnClimate

Wattenberg Oil and Gas Field via Free Range Longmont

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee passed [SB19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil And Gas Operations] on a 4-3, party-line vote after 12 hours of testimony from the public, government officials and industry officials…

The Colorado Senate Transportation and Energy Committee convened the first hearing for Senate Bill 19-181, dubbed Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations.

The bill would make a variety of changes to oil and gas law in Colorado, including the following:

  • It would change the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from one of fostering oil and gas development to one of regulating the industry. It also changes the makeup of the COGCC board.
  • It would provide explicit local control on oil and gas development, opening the door for local government-instituted bans or moratoriums, which have previously been tied up in court battles because the industry has been considered one of state interest.
  • It would change the way forced or statutory pooling works, requiring a higher threshold of obtained mineral rights before companies can force pool other mineral rights owners in an area.
  • Testimony during the committee hearing ran the gamut, including state officials, industry officials, business interests and residents, and it was expected to go well into the night…

    Talking about the rallies beforehand — both pro-181 and anti-181 groups — as well as the overflow rooms necessary for all of the attendees, [Carl] Erickson said the scene was wild…

    Dan Gibbs, executive director of department of natural resources; and Jeff Robbins, acting director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; both came out in support of the legislation.

    So, too, did Erin Martinez, who survived a home explosion in Firestone that killed her brother and her husband.

    “With proper regulations and inspections and pressure testing, this entire tragedy could have been avoided,” Martinez said in closing.

    The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee opened the hearing with testimony from Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, the measure’s co-sponsor, according to reporting from The Denver Post.

    As he told The Tribune on Sunday, he said during the hearing that the Tuesday hearing was the first of several — with six total to come.

    “At the forefront, objective of this bill is to ensure that we are protecting the health and safety and welfare of Coloradans, the environment, wildlife, when it comes to extraction of oil and gas across the state,” said Fenberg, D-Boulder, according to The Post.

    Governor Polis Announces Water Appointments

    Aspen trees in autumn. Photo: Bob West via the Colorado State Forest Service.

    From email from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources:

    Governor Polis has announced three new board appointments to the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

    · Gail Schwartz of Basalt, Colorado, representing the Colorado River basin
    · Jackie Brown of Oak Creek, Colorado, representing the Yampa-White River basin
    · Jessica Brody of Denver, Colorado, representing the City and County of Denver

    In addition, the Governor appointed Russ George as the Director of the Inter-Basin Compact Committee in addition to five gubernatorial appointees.

    · Aaron Citron
    · Mely Whiting
    · Robert Sakata
    · Patrick Wells
    · Paul Bruchez

    “I’m excited to work with these appointments,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources. “Their collective experience is unmatched.”

    Gail Schwartz has spent over two decades serving Colorado in both appointed and elected office. Jackie Brown brings a diverse background in natural resources and is a leader in the water community as the current Chair of the Yampa-White-Green basin roundtable. Finally, as General Counsel for Denver Water and formerly with the Denver City Attorney’s Office, Jessica Brody brings both municipal and environmental law experience.

    “I’m looking forward to working with the newly appointed board and IBCC members to continue implementing Colorado’s Water Plan. They bring valued expertise and leadership to the water community,” said Rebecca Mitchell, Director of the CWCB. “We sincerely thank the outgoing Board members and IBCC appointments for their service. Their dedication has been instrumental on numerous policy and planning efforts, including bringing a diversity of perspectives to Colorado’s Water Plan.”

    Russ George is a fourth generation native of the Rifle, Colorado area and brings a depth of state government and public service. Russ was instrumental in creating the IBCC and basin roundtables.

    “As the first champion of the IBCC and roundtable process, there’s no one better equipped to lead the IBCC. We’re embarking on a future of great opportunity in water, and Russ is the perfect choice to navigate the times ahead,” said Gibbs.

    Dan Gibbs confirmed as Director of the #Colorado Department of Natural Resources

    Dan Gibbs via Twitter

    From The Summit Daily (Deepan Dutta):

    The senate confirmed Gibbs unanimously in a 34-0 vote, with one abstention. Gibbs had already been preparing for the role in the weeks since he resigned as Summit County commissioner, meeting staff and attending meetings to get up to speed on the department’s work.

    The state agencies Gibbs will oversee include the Division of Forestry; Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety; the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; Colorado Parks and Wildlife; the Colorado Avalanche Information Center; the State Land Board; the Water Conservation Board and the state’s Division of Water Resources.

    Gibbs said he was thrilled to be confirmed, and was already engaged in high-level work, including the seven-state Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency plans that is seeking to create an updated water distribution compact in the West.

    “It’s really amazing being a part of that, and being part of those important conversations happening right now,” Gibbs said. “What we do will have legacy impact on how we manage the Colorado River moving forward. It involves everything from human services to road and bridge to environmental health, I’m learning about a lot of different positions.”

    Along with conserving water, other precious natural resources Gibbs oversees includes Parks and Wildlife, which will be the largest department under Gibbs’ purview with 900 employees. One of his priorities with CPW is to find a more sustainable funding model for the agency aside from hunting and fishing license fees…

    Gibbs, who had served as a Congressional staffer, state house representative and state senator before his eight years as commissioner, said that his experience working at the federal, state and local levels made him realize the unnecessary barriers that spring up between various levels of government. He plans to use his experience to negotiate among the different players and break down those barriers.

    “I want to work to try to demolish those silos isolating them from each other,” Gibbs said. “I want to look at how we manage our land, water and minerals and do what’s best for Colorado as a whole, not just piecemeal management based on federal, state and local ownership. I want a more holistic approach on how we manage and steward on natural resources.”

    Ultimately, Gibbs’ most important responsibility as steward of the state’s natural resources is to preserve them for later generations, so they can experience and enjoy the grandeur and freedom this wild country has to offer.

    “I have two young kids, and every day I wake up thinking about how we can shape natural resources policy not just now, but for future generations,” Gibbs said. “With 80,000 people moving to the state every year, a lot of it depends on how we manage growth, and how to avoid loving our natural resources to death.”

    “More and more women are running their own businesses (and) are taking on leadership on farms and ranches and are taking on leadership in other aspects of (agriculture) as well” — Kate Greenberg

    Kate Greenberg. Photo credit: National Young Farmers Coalition

    Here’s an interview with Kate Greenberg from KUNC (Esther Honig). Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

    Honig: You’ve worked with young people as a leader with the National Young Farmers Coalition. Can you talk about ways we could lower barriers that right now make farming for young people pretty difficult?

    Greenberg: This is sort of the nexus of a lot of these challenges. For a lot of young people, whether you’re coming at it from a multi-generational angle, or you’re starting fresh, there are tons of challenges.

    There are enough challenges with just the weather, with the hail storm that can wipe out your entire crop and water. But then you get the challenges of access and affordability, especially around land. The rising cost of land is prohibiting lots of young people from either entering the business or scaling up their businesses. Same is true with access to credit and capital. Financing a farm business is tough, especially when you’re starting out on your own.

    So in my mind we’ve got a ton of things to face but the way I see the world is that they are also opportunities. Agriculture has risen to those opportunities at every obstacle in the past and I’m excited to see how we do so again.

    U.S. Governors Detail Water Priorities for 2019 — Circle of Blue

    Oil and gas well sites near the Roan Plateau

    From Circle of Blue (Brett Walton):

    Colorado

    Gov. Jared Polis, a first-term Democrat who was elected in November, listed a range of water issues that the state faces: declining irrigation supplies for farms and ranches, less snowpack for the ski industry, and pollution from the energy industry.

    A ballot initiative that would have restricted the location of oil and gas infrastructure failed last November. Polis opposed Proposition 112, which would have established a 2,500-foot setback distance from homes, schools, drinking water sources, and other vulnerable areas. Current law is 500 feet.

    “It’s time for us to take meaningful action to address the conflicts between oil-and-gas drilling operations and the neighborhoods they impact, and to make sure that all of our communities have clean air and water,” Polis said, without going into more detail.

    Polis reiterated his goal of powering the state with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2040, and advocated for a nascent industrial hemp industry. Proponents argue that hemp, which Congress legalized in the 2018 farm bill, could be a water-saving crop for dry states.

    Polis also endorsed the state water plan, negotiated by his predecessor, John Hickenlooper.

    “Now we’re going to do our part in implementing it,” he said, asking the Legislature for funding.

    “The first thing is listening” — Kate Greenberg

    Colorado’s diverse landscape has a rich natural and agricultural heritage that fuels the economy. Photo: Michael Menefee

    From The Montrose Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

    “The first thing is listening,” Greenberg said Friday, as Week 1 of her new role drew to a close.

    “I’m planning to get out into the field as much as possible to understand what people are up against and to build out our game plan. I see this work as being highly collaborative. It’s my role to bring as many people together as possible to come up with what we need to do down the road.”

    Greenberg, appointed by Gov. Jared Polis, oversees the state ag department’s daily operations and its divisions: animal health, brand inspection, Colorado State Fair, conservation services, inspection and consumer services, laboratory services, markets and plant industry.

    She is no stranger to the Western Slope and its agri-issues, having served as the western program director for the National Young Farmers Coalition in Durango. Her duties there entailed working with basin roundtables, working on the state’s water plan and Colorado River basin water policy…

    “I am excited about Western Slope agriculture. I see so much creativity and perseverance from folks doing it for generations and people coming in now and starting their own businesses…

    “With Western Colorado being so rural, and a vast majority of people being on the Front Range and the vast majority of water on the Western Slope, we are going to depend on that creativity to keep agriculture thriving out there and rural agriculture alive.”

    […]

    Water is the lifeblood for the entire state and that creates challenges for all producers.

    “I think producers know that better than anyone, in terms of how precious water is and how important it is that we find solutions that allow agriculture to continue to thrive in Colorado,” Greenberg said.

    Montrose’s upcoming Western Food and Farm Forum helps grow agriculture by connecting producers, indicated Greenberg, who is set to address the conference on Jan. 26. She previously helped organize the annual forum and worked with steering committees.

    From The Fence Post (Rachel Gabel):

    Greenberg, in her first media interview as commissioner, said she grew up split between Minneapolis and in Minnesota’s farm country near Mankato, before moving to Washington where she began farming, working on small-scale, mixed vegetable operations that direct marketed to consumers. Her day job during that time, she said, involved visiting operations of all sizes and types across the West. She said her work has woven between agriculture and conservation, two worlds she said that are one in the same.

    Greenberg has spent the past six years based in Durango, Colo., with the National Young Farmers Coalition, building the organization’s staff and the membership. She traveled throughout the intermountain West, including Colorado, working with farmers and ranchers to help young producers return to the land.

    “I worked finding ways, through policy, through business services, and through network building to get more young people out in ag,” she said.

    To this end, she said she worked with farmers of all ages on the issue of succession, their options to keep operations in business, and working with the next generation. Her other concentration has been getting elected officials onto farms and ranches to give policymakers a better understanding of the challenges agriculture producers face. She said this is meant to ensure policymakers are making decisions based on practice rather than theory after seeing the boots on the ground. Working to give farmers a seat at the table, she said, is vital for agriculture in Colorado.

    “Since coming to Colorado to Durango, I have been serving in the role of advocate for farmers and ranchers, connecting producers with their policymakers and ensuring that we have folks standing up for family ag in Colorado,” she said.

    Governor-Elect Polis names Kate Greenberg to lead the state’s Department of Agriculture

    Kate Greenberg. Photo credit: National Young Farmers Coalition

    From Governor-Elect Polis’ office via The Durango Herald:

    Gov.-elect Jared Polis has tapped Durango resident Kate Greenberg, who serves as the Western Program director for National Young Farmers Coalition, to head the state’s Department of Agriculture.

    “A former full-time farm worker, Kate brings substantial experience in agriculture and a strong vision for the future,” according to a news release.

    As part of her work for the National Young Farmers Coalition since 2013, Greenberg organizes young farmers, advocates for supportive policy and promotes land, water and climate stewardship.