Craig Editorial Board
- Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
- Jennifer L. Grubbs, newspaper representative
- Bridget Manley, newspaper representative
- Allan Reishus, community representative
- Chris Runyan, community representative
- Ken Wergin, community representative
Craig What we need is cheap energy.
We support maintaining the vast stretches of public land for wildlife and outdoor stuff, but we do not think the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is doing anyone any favors.
Some of the various new regulations proposed by the commission to regulate energy drilling permits have us worried for the economic growth of western Colorado.
There seems to be an awful lot of new bureaucracy and subjective loopholes. However, it occurs to us, that the best way to regulate an industry - or govern in any capacity - is with clearly defined boundaries.
Uncertainty can be as bad as overregulation, which harmfully discourages business.
There were two energy companies that pulled investments out of Colorado earlier this year. When representatives were asked why their companies made such a decision, they said it was as much the uncertainty about Colorado's future regulatory climate as much as specific provisions in the commission's proposed rules.
Some of the rules, though, don't make the picture any clearer.
For example, there is a proposed regulation that would prohibit drilling in certain areas of the state, during certain times of the year, to protect crucial wildlife habitat, such as sage-grouse mating grounds and mule deer winter ranges.
The time restriction on drilling can be no longer than three months, and it only affects those areas with important habitats.
The commission can grant energy companies with variances to the regulation if they meet certain criteria, such as limiting surface occupancy and staying certain distances from central habitat grounds.
However, these variances are largely dependent on recommendations from the Division of Wildlife, which is given a lot of latitude in survey criteria.
This is clunky government, and not a very inviting picture to any business.
The commission would be better off defining specific rules for specific situations so the energy industry knows what the rules of the game are.
It seems this would be more transparent, as well, so the public knows what the rules of the game are.
There are other provisions in the commission's proposal we do like.
The commission believes it can streamline the permitting process by encouraging regional areas to develop comprehensive drilling plans that lay the groundwork for permit qualifications.
This seems like a good idea, especially since a drill operator can request an expedited hearing if the commission doesn't decide on a permit within an area with a drilling plan within 30 days.
The current process time is estimated at a little longer than 60 days.
The benefits do not overcome the negatives, however.
The energy industry can bring a lot of jobs and income to this area. Encouraging companies to develop domestic resources should also be important for our government.
Hazy regulations with subjective enforcement will encourage neither.