Drawing on local experience for Colorado oversight
By Mark Reaman
A foundational change in how the state of Colorado oversees oil and gas development within its borders is taking place and a local politician is on the front lines of helping to facilitate that change.
Governor Jared Polis last week appointed Gunnison County commissioner John Messner to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Under a new law signed by Polis, the commission is basically changing its mission from “fostering” the oil and gas industry to “regulating” the industry, prioritizing public health and safety and considering environmental concerns. It also enables local governments to have increased oversight of land use related to oil and gas activities in local communities.
Gunnison County has its own rules regulating oil and gas development and that might be one reason Messner was selected to be part of the new commission. It is an interim appointment that lasts until July 2020.
“As you know, Gunnison County was one of the first local governments to develop oil and gas regulations and we have utilized those regulations to review oil and gas operations within the county since 2011,” Messner said. “Our current regulatory process is in many ways similar to the new mission of the COGCC in that we have regulated and permitted operations within the county to protect public health, safety, welfare, wildlife, and the environment. We worked with a diverse group of stakeholders in a collaborative fashion in developing our local regulations, as we do with so many subjects throughout the county, and it is that experience I bring to the COGCC.”
As far as the time commitment, Messner said it would take two days a month over the next 13 months, beginning this week with a one-day meeting on Tuesday.
“It is an honor to be appointed to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission by Governor Polis,” concluded Messner. “I look forward to serving the people of Colorado and carrying out the commission’s new mission of regulating oil and gas development and protecting Colorado’s public health, safety, welfare, wildlife, and environment.”