New Oil & Gas Commission Director Discusses New Law

Rifle—Reasonable and necessary.  To many in the oil and gas industry in Colorado that term implies “you’re about to be punished but it’ll be fair.” To Jeff Robbins, the new director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, ‘reasonable and necessary’ means a fresh start for a multi-billion dollar industry that has managed to survive the ups and downs of the energy market, an ever-widening umbrella of government regulations and a number of accidents that have damaged it’s public image.  Senate Bill 181 went into effect at precisely 4:08 pm, mountain time, when Governor Jared Polis put his signature on it.  Robbins, hand picked by the governor to head up the COGCC, told the crowd on day two of the energy and environment symposium in Rifle, he’s comfortable with the new law.  He made one thing clear; while the new rules are being put together, there will not be a statewide moratorium on drilling.  Since the bill’s signing, Robbins has been busy explaining some of the details of the new law and trying to relieve some of the fears expressed by the industry and communities that rely heavily on the revenue oil and gas generates. Robbins says the directive from the state legislature is that state and local governments work together.  He says local control is discretionary  The new law also calls for paring down the COGCC from nine to five members and redefining it’s mission from fostering to regulating development.  The commission will only have one person representing the industry instead of three.  Robbins says each commission member will be full-time employees. The new criteria is now published and the public can comment for the next 30 days.  Robbins says the initial rule making will be complete by July 1st, 2020.