On Monday, this county northeast of metro
“It’s a one-stop shop,”
Kirkmeyer expects the new department to handle around 2,000 applications for well permits a year.
“As a top energy-producing county in
The debut of the standalone department, which will run on a $1.9 million annual budget, comes three months after state lawmakers passed and the governor signed a historic oil and gas reform bill that gives local governments in
It also comes at a time when tensions between state energy regulators and
Last month, officials from the
In other words, the state still has a significant say over greenlighting any new drilling.
“The state permitting process remains in play irrespective of what local governments are doing with their land-use regulations,”
Rule-making for the new oil and gas law hasn’t gotten off to a smooth start. The COGCC last week held a two-day session to start figuring out how to implement the language of SB 181. On the first day of hearings, anti-fracking protesters interrupted the proceedings and forced a delay so that order could be restored in the room.
“We know we are already facing economic losses as a county due to the delay of permit approvals by the
“We’ll definitely take a comprehensive look at these locations — we are planning to take a hard look at the health, safety and welfare of county residents (when assessing drilling applications),” he said.
Kirkmeyer, the commissioner, said the department will even take complaints from residents about noise, odor or lighting issues associated with oil and gas operations in
But she said she expects the state to keep its rule-making process on a forward track and get serious about chipping away at the backlog of permits that have been submitted by operators, which at the end of June numbered more than 6,200.
If the permitting process gets bogged down in bureaucracy and reduces production in a county highly dependent on oil and gas extraction, Kirkmeyer said a ballot initiative she was spearheading this spring — and later dropped — to overturn SB 181 could see another day in the sun.
“If they don’t do their job, they can expect a ballot initiative,” she said.
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