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Oil Majors’ Pledge to Colorado Communities Is Being Put to the Test

Governor Jared Polis wasted no time making good on his threats to curb Colorado energy production. His first step in that endeavor was controversial Senate Bill 19-181, a legislative sledgehammer designed to transform the state’s approach to oil and gas extraction.

In spite of this shift, several energy majors pledged to maintain a presence in the state’s vibrant oil fields. Less than two months later, however, those companies’ benevolence is already being put to the test.

A Public Health Focus

A temporary seven-person commission was established early in May to revise a new set of regulations for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. This seven-person team has until next July to turn the COGCC into a regulatory-focused — rather than a production-focused — body. 

On Thursday, Polis took the extra step of appointing former San Juan Basin Public Health director Liane Jollon to spearhead this change. Jollon’s previous work as a public health director is a clear indication of the direction Polis’ new COGCC will head. 

Full Speed Ahead

Of course, several towns and cities aren’t waiting for the new regulations to get handed down. Lafayette, Broomfield, and Larimer County are just a handful of the communities refusing to wait for guidelines from the state government before enacting their own energy plan. 

Several community legislators have jumped on the anti-energy bandwagon, seemingly risking Colorado’s economy in favor of an aggressive (if not scientifically sound) stance against oil. Said the head of anti-energy group Colorado Rising, “I think it’s no-holds barred for communities … It’s the dawn of a new era.”

Potential for True Chaos

The onslaught of changes coming from both the state and local level promise to increase the already-difficult process of moving forward on new oil and gas projects. While proponents defend the measures as yielding authority to the people, those working at every level of the state’s energy industry understand that the fate of one of Colorado’s most vital economic sectors is being placed in the hands of not one, but several groups of people who have little-to-no experience in energy.

Though their resolve is strong for the moment, those companies dedicated to improving the Colorado energy scene may find the hassle of placating several governments at once more trouble than it’s worth.

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