Several members of the Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force have voiced preliminary support for master planning in populated areas where industry development is a new phenomenon.
After a marathon meeting Thursday at the Holiday Inn & Suites, the task force members reconvened Friday to identify problems they wish to address in the coming months before making recommendations to the state Legislature, possibly in February.
“Is there a way short of the bans and ballot issues ... that can work for more of the stakeholders at this table?” asked Will Toor, the former Boulder mayor and Boulder County commissioner.
Gov. John Hickenlooper created the task force to examine many issues surrounding oil and gas production in urban areas that have sparked bans on the practice in some communities.
Some task force members suggested greater planning involving all the oil and gas operators in a county would help community members to know what to expect from development and its cumulative impacts.
Toor said this might help address the question: “What happens if 800 or 1,000 wells come into our county?”
Others said mandating oil and gas companies to work together in a master planning process might be legally difficult or impossible.
Members of the task force representing the industry emphasized the importance of examining the rules and regulations already in place at every level to make sure the group doesn’t replicate existing laws. They also emphasized providing more education to help local governments and landowners understand the current process and their rights.
“Are we fully leveraging what’s available to us today?” asked Randy Cleveland, the co-chairman and president of XTO Energy Inc.
Another industry representative, Perry Pearce with ConocoPhillips, suggested greater funding for regulatory agencies may be needed to enforce existing laws.
While the task force had been scheduled to meet in Rifle in November, the group decided Friday to move its meeting to the Front Range so it can begin working in communities that banned fracking.
In the coming months, task force members will continue exploring issues surrounding health, the environment and economic impacts, and they will hear from more experts and residents.
They also hope to address the balance of regulatory control between the state and local governments.
To submit comments to the task force, email firstname.lastname@example.org