Over-regulation charges persist despite third most drilling permits ever

Colorado issued the third highest number of oil and gas drilling permits in state history last year, according to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) Director David Neslin, but oil and gas representatives continue to argue that over-regulation is strangling the industry.

Steve Balcomb, an attorney whose firm represents Denver-based Antero Resources, told the Garfield County Commissioners this week that “we’re on the verge of a very bad time in Garfield County” because of increased state and local regulation.

Antero is seeking permission from the COGCC to increase drilling density in two Silt subdivisions from one well per 40 acres to one well per 10 acres. Reacting to citizen concern, the Garfield County commissioners agreed to intervene with the state regulatory board.

Balcomb, according to the Glenwood Post Independent, told the county commissioners they should not be involved in every aspect of the everyday life of the oil and gas company and that such stepped-up involvement is chasing the industry out of the state. Area residents worried about impacts to traffic and air and water quality disagree.

Several area residents joined Democratic county commissioner Trési Houpt in countering that an ongoing recession and gas prices a dollar lower per mmBTU than they were a year ago are really to blame for the drilling downturn.

Neslin said the COGCC issued 5,996 drilling permits in 2010, well off the 2008 record of 8,027, but still the third highest total ever. Garfield County was second only to Weld County, with 2,037 permits issued compared to 2,152.

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