State, feds skirmish over oil & gas-related rules

If the state wants to tighten rules concerning oil-and-gas development, so what? The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees oil and gas development on federal public land, says the new regulations won’t apply to them.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is deliberating over new proposed rules that would tighten regulations concerning oil-and-gas development. Some of the changes would make the industry put liners in open chemical pits, disclose chemicals used in the drilling process and mitigate drilling activities in sensitive environmental areas, such as elk-calving grounds.

The energy industry has protested the proposed changes with a statewide advertising campaign. In addition, its supporters have vocalized their complaints at public hearings in Grand Junction and Denver, focusing on the regulations that could limit drilling activities for several months if companies refuse to mitigate their impacts on wildlife. Now, it seems, the industry has another advocate: the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

In a June 6 letter to the COGCC, Colorado BLM Director Sally Wisely noted that federal law would supersede any state legislation. From The Grand Junction Sentinel:

Sally Wisely, state director for the bureau, wrote to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, saying federal legislation preempts state law when state laws “stand as an obstacle” against the will of Congress. In her letter, Wisely wrote that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission could sidestep a confrontation by adding language to the draft rules that acknowledges the state rules don’t apply to federal lands or federally owned minerals without the concurrence of the bureau.

Deb Frazier, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said the state won’t back down. 

"Colorado has authority under state and federal law to manage wildlife on state and public lands,” Frazier told the Sentinel.

Comments are closed.