After the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a state regulatory agency shouldn’t prioritize environmental concerns over the interests of oil companies, lawmakers and environmentalists are calling for a legislative fix.
The ruling in the Martinez v. COGCC case cited current Colorado law, which states “oil and gas operations must be planned and managed to balance development with wildlife conservation” and public health and safety.
This prompted many groups, including Conservation Colorado, a progressive environmental organization, to demand a closer look from Colorado legislature.
“For too long, Coloradans asking for stronger health and safety protections have lost at the legislature, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and in the courts. That needs to change.” said Kelly Nordini, director of Conservation Colorado, in a press release following the courts ruling Monday. “With a new administration in place, we look forward to working with Governor Polis, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and legislative leaders to reform this broken system and put our communities first.”
One lawmaker is already writing legislation to prioritize environmental concerns.
In a statement to The Denver Post, Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette said,
“The bottom line is we need to make sure the health and safety are a priority and reform of the (Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission) is a beginning, we are working on a bill to make sure health and safety are prioritized.”
Dan Haley, President of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), an industry-backed group, appears to oppose any legislation changing the regulator mission of COGCC. Haley stated in a press release,
“The Supreme Court upheld the Colorado way of doing business, which is to weigh many interests and diverse views in overseeing a regulatory framework that serves and protects us all.”
With Democrats in control of state government, it seems likely changes to the COGCC mission will be made this legislative session, political analysts say.