Greg Roberts: Oil, gas bills important to Craig, region

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of two bills in our state legislature. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC, the regulating body for oil and gas development) is made up almost completely of oil and gas company representatives. This commission is supposed to work to protect the interests of all Coloradoans, but the commission is completely lopsided in favor of the companies. House Bill 1341 reforms the make up of the commission and H.B. 1223 directors the commission to work with the Colorado Department of Health to write rules that will protect the health of residents impacted by oil and gas development.

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Craig and Northwestern Colorado are booming with oil and gas development. This development has brought business and prosperity to our community. The industry brings our community money in many forms including severance taxes and royalty payments to our county government.

The industry also threatens the elk and mule deer herds that support our hunting and guiding industry, contributes to the drug problem in our community, causes environmental pollution that is dangerous to the health and well being of our families and friends and burdens our local government with increased road maintenance. If you are a landowner who doesn't own your mineral rights (that includes a majority of us in the county), the gas developers can seriously damage the surface of your property and your land values.

I believe that we can have prosperous oil and gas development and regulate the industry to protect our communities from some of the more dangerous and preventable impacts. Currently, five out of the seven seats on the COGCC are industry representatives. What other industry is allowed to self-regulate? HB 1341 will balance the make up of the board. There will still be industry reps, but there will also be experts in health issues, soil conservation and wildlife management, two land owners and a local government representative.

This approach makes sense. The oil and gas development won't last forever. We should make the most of it while we can, and we should protect our other community assets so our economy has something to fall back on. Thank you for your consideration of these issues.

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