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Saguache County was one of a handful of County's that requested that the Colorado Oil & Gas Commission (COGCC) , in their rulemaking, not pre-empt the authority of counties to regulate oil and gas activities at the local level. The following is an update on the outcomes of this effort.
Dear Attorneys for Local Government Entities:
On Thursday, September 11th, the COGCC finally took up Rule 521, the suggested memorandum of agreement process with local governments and preemption in general. I delivered opening remarks on behalf of several of the local governments, as did Dixie Newman, attorney for Las Animas County. In its opening, Industry vigorously opposed inclusion of Rule 521 and the non-preemption argument in general. The COGCC then deliberated the issue for over an hour and in the end, voted 9-0 to include global, non- preemption language within the rules under Section 201, the purpose section of the rules.
The language that was agreed upon was as had been suggested by several local governments with a slight modification concerning operational conflicts. As a result of this vote, the COGCC now has a rule, broadly applicable to all the rules, not just the new ones, that recognizes local authority and that specifically includes a provision in its rules that they are not meant to negate, alter or impair local authority, absent an operational conflict. Second, while the Commission ultimately decided not to adopt Rule 521, there was some consensus that the COGCC should work together in the regulation of oil and gas with local governments, they just disagreed that they needed to codify the process as a specific rule. They directed staff on a 7-2 vote to work directly with La Plata County on a test case basis to see whether a memorandum of agreement or other clarifying, coordinating and harmonizing regulatory scheme could be achieved between the State´s regulations and local regulations.
With these votes, I believe that local governments achieved much of the goals they had with regard to their participation in the rulemaking. If anyone has questions, do not hesitate to contact me.Please feel free to forward this information or this email along to your County Commissioners so they are apprised of the results of their efforts.
Jeff Robbins, La Plata County Attorney