A few days ago, the voters of Colorado discovered that, for the first time in recent memory, anti-energy group Colorado Rising would not be pursuing an initiative for the November ballot. The perennial headline-grabbers explained that in 2020, they were concerned about gathering the required number of signatures for a planned measure that would increase the state’s oil and gas setback requirement from 2,000 to 2,500 feet.
The shock of the announcement was quickly followed by a collective nod of understanding. Colorado Rising explained that though they had abandoned the measure, the two people responsible for spearheading the move may not quit so easily. Sure enough, Colorado Rising’s on-the-ground reps said they would take advantage of an executive order from Gov. Polis allowing signatures to be obtained through email.
In any other year, the oil and gas industry would listen to these claims and settle in for another ballot fight. This year, however, the pro-energy people have another plan. Two Coloradans are proposing to make a massive change to Colorado’s energy landscape.
The New COGCC
When it was first designed, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) had a mandate to support the conscientious growth of the state’s oil and gas business. In 2016, however, Colorado Governor Jared Polis pushed through a controversial new bill that gutted and redesigned the COGCC. The latest iteration of the governmental body replaced interaction with regulation.
Since its inception, the new COGCC has spent the time writing a new set of rules for the state’s oil and gas industry to follow. Those finalized rules have yet to see the light of day. However, first drafts from the office have been greeted with concern among the industry. They see the new COGCC as focused less on regulation than outright elimination of Colorado’s fossil fuel energy industry.
Redesigning the COGCC (Again)
Before the Democrat-owned COGCC can do any permanent damage to Colorado’s energy industry, Dave Davia, CEO of the Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors, and Diane Schwenke, CEO of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, are recommending one last change.
Rather than stock the COGCC with politically motivated people, Davie and Schwenke want to entirely eliminate the COGCC and replace it with a nine-person independent board appointed not by the current administration, but by an apolitical group of retired judges. The experts who would make up this independent board would be an even mix of Republicans, Democrats, engineers and industry experts who could discuss the future of Colorado’s energy industry from every perspective.
Taking Politics Out of Energy
Where it would appear that Colorado Rising would start and stop their movements based on political maneuvering, Davia and Schwenke have had enough of politics in energy. The goal of their initiative is to excise politics from one of the most critical topics facing the state.
Rather than see the fate of oil and gas hinge on the results of an election cycle, Davia and Schwenke would put it in the hands of knowledgeable people who can consider the matter without fear of the blowing winds of public opinion.