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Gov. Polis appoints two new Colorado oil and gas commissioners

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Friday announced the appointments of two new members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Brett Ackerman of Colorado Springs and Mike Cross of Arvada were appointed to serve four-year terms on the COGCC, which oversees permitting and regulation of oil and gas drilling in Colorado, beginning on July 1.

The current five-member COGCC is a full-time panel established by Senate Bill 19-181, the sweeping overhaul of state drilling laws passed by Democrats in the General Assembly in 2019. In a series of major rulemakings conducted over the last several years, the commission has enacted a wide range of regulations on the industry aimed at being more protective of health, safety and the environment.

“We find that by working together, and involving all stakeholders to reach consensus, we develop workable, practical solutions for protectively regulating Colorado’s oil and gas industry,” Jeff Robbins, the COGCC’s chair, said in a press release. “As we roll up our sleeves to transition to the daily implementation of SB-181, after the heavy lifting of rulemaking, it is critical to have a strong commission to do the work.”

Under SB-181, each of the COGCC’s five commissioners must represent a specific professional background or constituency.

Ackerman will replace recently departed commissioner Priya Nanjappa as the panel’s “member with formal training or substantial experience in environmental protection, wildlife protection, or reclamation.” A 20-year veteran of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Ackerman most recently served as the agency’s southeast region manager.

Cross, a veteran oil and gas lawyer, will serve as a commissioner with “substantial experience in the oil and gas industry,” replacing Bill Gonzalez, a former Occidental Petroleum executive who announced earlier this month that he would depart at the conclusion of his term on June 30.

The COGCC has been a lightning rod for both environmental activists and conservative allies of the fossil-fuel industry. Polis’ right-wing critics routinely blame the commission’s implementation of new health and safety rules under SB-181 for sluggish drilling activity and high gas prices, but Colorado producers have attributed little impact to the new regulations in communications to investors, and industry analysts say global supply chain issues and cash-flow demands from shareholders are far more significant factors.

In a statement, Dan Gibbs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, credited the COGCC with developing “the nation’s strongest rules in oil and gas” in the wake of SB-181’s passage.

“We welcome these two appointees and are excited to leverage their experiences and knowledge to build upon the successes of the past few years in creating and using regulations that ensure oil and gas production and development is done at the highest level, and protects our lands, water, people, rivers and wildlife,” Gibbs said.

Read More: Gov. Polis appoints two new Colorado oil and gas commissioners

2022-06-17 14:15:09

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