Six Colorado oil and gas commissioners get preliminary confirmation

Six Colorado oil and gas commissioners get preliminary confirmation

Six nominees to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, including a Garfield County representative, were confirmed by a Senate committee on Tuesday, despite protests from Republicans that they weren’t given enough information on their views.

The six were nominated by Gov. Bill Ritter after lawmakers expanded and revamped the commission to make it more responsive to environmental, safety and community concerns.

The Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee voted 4-3 to recommend that the full Senate confirm the nominations. A Senate vote has not been set.

Lawmakers last year altered the commission’s role, expanded it to nine members from seven and added new requirements for member expertise and backgrounds.

The changes came after complaints the commission had become too cozy with the industry amid an energy boom that was putting straining local communities.

Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said he is concerned the newly reconstituted commission could strangle the oil and gas industry if commissioners cannot find a way to balance the industry’s rights to extract resources with the new mandates.

“This is a commission that will oversee the biggest industry in Colorado,” Brophy said.

Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, said the industry has made great strides meeting the new goals by using new techniques, including horizontal drilling, that could be stifled with new regulations.

“I fear you may do damage to the process. I will support you, but it’s with a lot of caution,” Romer said.

Despite the concerns, the committee voted to confirm Richard D. Alward of Grand Junction as a member with experience in soil conservation, Thomas L. Compton of Hesperus as a member engaged in agriculture, Mark D. Cutright of Aurora as a member with oil and gas experience, Michael P. Dowling of Denver because of his environmental and wildlife experience, Joshua B. Epel of Greenwood Village for experience in the oil and gas industry, and Garfield County Commissioner Trési B. Houpt of Glenwood Springs as a local government official.


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