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Opinion Columns

Opinion: Facts, not conjecture, should drive decisions about regulating Colorado’s oil and gas industry

Joel Minor’s storytelling about the history of Colorado’s oil and natural gas regulatory framework flirts with reality.

Dan Haley

However, he neglects to say that laws and regulations for our oil and natural gas industry have been made, remade, adjusted, overhauled and tweaked countless times over the past several decades.

The state’s regulatory body underwent a massive overhaul, by law, during Gov. Bill Ritter’s tenure, and SB 181 takes on that task yet again.

Laws regarding fines and fees, air quality, resource pooling, local authority and many others have all seen significant changes over time, and while there is a lengthy history of regulatory, legal, and legislative updates in those areas, SB 181 does indeed revisit all of it.

Looking back, Colorado’s oversight of the oil and natural gas industry includes many first-of-their-kind regulations, including fracturing fluid disclosures, pre- and post-drilling water monitoring, flowline and pipeline requirements, school setbacks and nation-leading air rules.

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In fact, we have had 15 major oversight rulemakings conducted by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) in the past nine years alone.

To make his point, Mr. Minor passes along health studies that have been debunked, called “misleading”by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, or have otherwise led to inconclusive results.

In large part, the laws, regulations, and everyday industry practices have made our oil and natural gas industry one of the safest in the country, ranking 7thsafest out of 86 measurable sectors of our economy when it comes to injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

We’ve also seen VOC emissions, including methane, drop by half in the past handful of years while production has gone up.

Colorado had the toughest regulations in the country before 181 was signed into law, and certainly that will remain the case as the bill directs over a dozen new regulatory rulemakings that will take years to complete.

On that point, I will agree with Joel, a significant amount of work lies ahead. And we all need to ensure that work is predicated on facts, not conjecture.

Dan Haley is president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.

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