DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has begun creating a new road map for the future of the industry. The commission is in charge of implementing Senate Bill 181, which was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis in April.

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The law set up a framework to overhaul oil and gas regulations by putting health, safety and the environment first.

For the first time, the commission allowed industry and environmentalists to weigh in on how the process for implementing the law will play out.

Anne Lee Foster (credit: CBS)

“This is where the rubber meets the road to make sure we are definitively and quantifiably protecting health and safety as 181 mandates,” said Anne Lee Foster with Colorado Rising, which is one of nearly a hundred community groups making it’s voice heard.

Foster is already concerned the commission is straying from the law’s mandate. She points to new criteria for approving permits.

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“The objective criteria does not address any cumulative impacts to health and safety… any climate change issues or climate crisis issues. We feel that objective criteria is in violation of 181’s overall mandate.”

Jeff Robbins, the new director of the commission, developed the criteria last month to determine which permits get flagged for further review. It meant only 41 permits were approved last month compared to 327 in May of 2018.

“We expected a time period after the bill was signed where there would be a slow down, where the director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission can get his criteria in place, but all those systems are in place now. So now it’s time to start seeing these permits,” said Dan Haley, the President and CEO for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Dan Haley (credit: CBS)

But Foster is calling for a moratorium on all new permits.

Senate bill 181 also gave local governments more control over drilling and Foster says up to a dozen communities have now imposed local moratoriums.

Haley says that isn’t the intent of the law or of most Coloradans.

Shaun Boyd

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