DENVER Gov. John Hickenlooper got two standing ovations from a Republican-dominated business group Thursday when he expanded on his ideas to make Colorado a more business-friendly state.
Hickenlooper said he would not weaken environmental standards, but he thinks the state can give out permits faster to the natural-gas and oil industry and cut regulations for other businesses.
Hickenlooper talked about his meeting last week with a local leader of an unnamed Fortune 100 oil company who complained about the regulation of natural-gas drilling. It takes 140 days to get an air permit to drill a well, much longer than it takes in other states, according to the company executive.
I looked at him and said, Well fix that, Hickenlooper said, drawing applause from the audience at the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, a business lobbying group.
But when the executive complained about a $400,000 fine that his company got for polluting a spring, Hickenlooper said he wouldnt have reduced the penalty.
Im going to cut the permit time, he told the executive. I will try and reduce red tape. But if I cut the consequences when you guys make mistakes, are guys going to be as focused?
Neither Hickenlooper nor Republicans in the Legislature have made a move to repeal environmental rules the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission passed in 2008.
The commission issued 5,996 drilling permits last year, up more than 800 from the year before.
Hickenlooper also restated his call to the Legislature to create a regulatory-impact statement for its bills. The Legislature already does an analysis of what a bill will cost the state government, and it should figure out what bills will cost the private sector, Hickenlooper said.
Im not saying we dont sometimes need regulations, but lets make sure we think thoroughly through what are the consequences when we do regulations, he said.
He has not proposed anything formal to the Legislature, but the idea is percolating among Hickenloopers advisers, said his spokesman, Eric Brown.
Republicans have frequently called for a regulatory-impact statement, and Republican Speaker of the House Frank McNulty joked after the speech that he thought he was listening to former Republican Gov. Bill Owens.
Democrats always talk about rolling back regulations, but this is a guy whos tied it to a specific example. I think its great, McNulty said.