Lawmaker proposes wildlife-energy guidelines
DENVER ” A bill introduced Wednesday would protect wildlife and their habitat amid Colorado’s energy boom.
Supporters said 55 environmental, hunting and fishing groups are behind the proposal introduced by Rep. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, and co-sponsored by Sen. Louis Tochtrop, D-Denver.
It (House Bill 1298) details guidelines for reducing the impact of oil and gas drilling.
Gibbs has said he hopes the bill can provide a national model for balancing wildlife and energy, both important to Colorado’s economy.
The bill’s genesis was a set recommendations drafted about two years ago by Bob Elderkin of the Colorado Mule Deer Association and Dennis Buechler of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. They circulated the guidelines among other Colorado organizations and government officials.
Elderkin, a retired Bureau of Land Management employee who oversaw energy development in western Colorado, said there’s no excuse for shoddy or poorly planned development.
“These companies are flush with cash and they have the know-how and equipment to avoid or dramatically minimize impacts to our wildlife,” Elderkin said.
The guidelines include reducing the amount of land disturbed by development, speeding restoration and encouraging consultation between energy companies, landowners and wildlife officials. The bill would apply to private and state land, but not federal, where much of the development in western Colorado is taking place.
Energy companies have said they use techniques to minimize the effects of development, but economics, geology and technology are important considerations.
Greg Schnacke, executive vice president of the trade group Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said he has talked to Gibbs about the bill.
“There have been some informational discussions to help him understand what companies can do,” Schnacke said.
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