Down To Earth

Feb 4, 2011 7:35 AM by Bea Karnes

Group drops lawsuit over Colorado oil, gas rules

DENVER (AP)-The Colorado Oil and Gas Association said Thursday it is withdrawing its lawsuit challenging Colorado oil and gas rules that took effect in 2009.

Industry officials had said the rules, aimed at balancing development with protections for human health and the environment, were among the country's most restrictive.

The association sued the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission over the rules but said it is dropping the suit after discussions with the administration of newly elected Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former geologist.

Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Mike King said the administration promised only to listen to all sides.

"This heralds what we hope will be a new era of collaboration and predictability in the development of our energy resources," Hickenlooper said. "It's important to get beyond old fights and move ahead to develop Colorado's abundant natural gas and protect our environment at the same time."

COGA President and CEO Tisha Conoly Schuller said: "The new administration clearly recognizes the valuable contribution Colorado's oil and gas industry makes to the economy and the importance of Colorado natural gas in reducing air pollution. We are confident that going forward we will have a place at the table and our concerns will be fairly considered."

Colorado Environmental Coalition Executive Director Elise Jones applauded COGA's decision to drop the lawsuit.

"The rules have been very successful in reducing drilling impacts on Colorado's communities, water supplies and wildlife even as permit review times have decreased," she said.

In a letter in December, state Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, acknowledged it could be difficult to win wholesale changes in oil and gas rules with a Democrat as governor and with a state Senate controlled by Democrats.

"Since the governor-elect has said he supports the rules, a full-frontal assault on the rules would be a futile endeavor," they said in the letter.

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