Colorado gas commission backpedals on drilling rule

 

Remember the HCN story about the hullabaloo over the the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's attempt to strengthen the environmental regulations governing oil and gas development? The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent reports that the commission is dropping one of the most controversial of the proposed rule changes -- the one that would have allowed the state to restrict drilling during times of the year when it would harm wildlife.

The proposed rule -- which would have allowed the state to prohibit drilling in certain areas for up to 90 days per year in order to limit disturbance to mating seasons or winter grazing -- had so many loopholes that it's hard to imagine it would have delayed a single well. Companies could have gotten around it by consulting with the Division of Wildlife to come up with an impact-mitigation plan or by demonstrating a lack of wildlife in the area they wanted to drill.

But oil and gas companies in Colorado don't like being told what to do. They spent big bucks on radio and print ads denouncing the new rules as job-killers, and paid their employees to show up en masse at public hearings on the rules. 

For now, at least, it looks like their PR investments paid off.