Republicans cry foul over ‘hidden’ enforcement costs for drilling regs

Republicans looking to gut new Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission drilling regulations adopted in December and now subject to the approval of the state Legislature just got some much-needed ammo in what promises to be a contentious fight.

According to the Associated Press, the state’s Department of Natural Resources estimated enforcement costs for the commission would run about $7,000 the first year of the new regs. But an internal memo obtained by AP through the Colorado Open Records Act put that price tag at more than $1 million.

AP quotes an outraged state Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, calling the disclosure “a major breach of trust.”

The new regulations, if approved, would put in place two new laws requiring more emphasis on the environment, preserving wildlife habitat and public safety when considering drilling permit requests. The new regs would go into effect April 1 on state land.

Mike King, a deputy director of the Department of Natural Resources, said that in 2007 the original bill introduced in the House would not have required as much funding for enforcement. But that bill was scrapped and a new House bill required more staffing and man hours for the commission.

King told the AP his department couldn’t know the real costs of enforcement because it was unclear what the final regulations would require. “I simply wasn’t comfortable letting a fiscal note drive a bill into the ground,” King said.

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