Lawmakers worried about impact of oil and gas reforms |

Lawmakers worried about impact of oil and gas reforms

DENVER A bipartisan group of lawmakers said Tuesday they feared oil and gas bills moving through the legislature could cost the state jobs and asked Gov. Bill Ritter to slow down some of the changes. In a letter to Ritter, Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and 13 other representatives and senators asked that he bring stakeholders together to discuss the overall impact the measures will have on Colorado. With severance tax dollars playing such an important role in local communities, it is shortsighted to hurt the industry that is filling local and state coffers. We must allow for thoughtful deliberation and slow down the rush to legislate, they said. The letter is similar to one the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, a trade group, sent March 9 to Ritter. Ted Brown, the groups president, wrote that many of the bills dealing with the oil and gas industry have been put forward in haste, with inadequate review or consideration given to the impact they would have in Colorado. In a statement, Ritter said his administration has been willing to listen to the industry. He said natural resources chief Harris Sherman and others have spent more than 30 hours in meetings with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the Colorado Petroleum Association and others interested in a measure (House Bill 1341) that would change the makeup of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the main regulatory body. We understand how important this industry is to our economy and the value it brings to our state. Our intent is to balance the extraction of resources with the concerns the people of this state have expressed surrounding impacts to our water, air and land, Ritter said. He said 1,500 complaints have been filed with the commission because of those impacts over the last five years. The proposal to change the commissions makeup follows complaints that the panel had become too close to the industry it regulates. It would require an environmentalist or wildlife expert and two representatives of the Western Slope be added to the commission.

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