Jeff BriggsJeff BriggsJune 20, 20186min811

The Bureau of Land Management is scheduled to lease mineral rights for oil and gas exploration on 11 land parcels totaling 18,358 acres in Huerfano County come this fall. Four of the parcels border the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area and all 11 are within eight miles of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Every one of those 18,358 acres makes up drainage for the upper Huerfano River Basin and are connected to the Arkansas River system.

Mark JaffeMark JaffeMarch 15, 20184min508

A bill to focus and enhance reporting of oil and gas industry spills and accidents cleared the House Transportation Energy Committee Wednesday over the objections of the oil and gas industry. The bill, House Bill 1157, passed with the committee’s eight Democrats voting for it and the five Republicans opposing it. The lesigation is a copy of the reporting rules for Utah, according to State Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder, the bill’s sponsor.


Joey BunchJoey BunchMarch 7, 20185min510
Neither is a cure-all for what ails the Western Slope in terms of broadband internet and water, but two bills passed by the Colorado House Tuesday could be an incremental pick-me-up. The bipartisan House Bill 1099 could possibly start a turf war between bidders who might expand broadband internet into underserved areas of the state […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirFebruary 21, 20183min645

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper had kind words Tuesday for Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Matt Lepore, who announced he would resign next month to return to the private sector.

The anti-oil-and-gas advocacy group Food & Water Watch, meanwhile, said Lepore shouldn’t let the door swat him in the backside on his way out. Well, something like that.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources touted Lepore’s tenure in a press release:

Under Lepore’s leadership, the COGCC comprehensively strengthened the state’s oil and gas regulations, expanded Commission staff to improve oversight of industry activities, amplified the role of local governments and dramatically increased the access and volume of regulatory data available to the public.

…and elaborated:

Lepore led regulatory changes to increase distances between drilling and neighborhoods; reduce the effects of light, noise and odors; protect and monitor groundwater; tighten requirements for spill reporting; significantly elevate penalties for operators violating Commission rules; toughen requirements for operating in floodplains; increase the role of local governments in siting large operations near communities and overhaul requirements for design, installation, maintenance, testing, tracking and abandoning flowlines.

Here’s the guv, quoted in the press release:

“Matt performed one of the most demanding jobs in state government. He did so with style and substance that provided calm over an area often at the center of controversy … Matt always put safeguarding public safety and the environment first. Under his leadership, Colorado developed regulations that have been used as models across the country.”

Not so fast, said Lauren Petrie, the Rocky Mountain region director of Food & Water Watch, in a statement the group released shortly after Lepore’s announcement:

We welcome Lepore’s long overdue departure from the COGCC — it might just be the best decision he’s made as the agency’s leader. Coloradans are waking up to the fact that the COGCC is failing miserably to protect our health and safety. It comes as no surprise that Lepore’s next move will be lobbying for the fossil fuel industry, since he has been protecting its interests during his five-year tenure as a regulator. While we are happy to see Lepore go, we will hold the new director accountable to protect the public interest, just the same.”

Lepore will join the energy consulting firm Adamantine Energy. His successor as commission director already has been named: Julie Murphy, currently assistant director for energy and minerals at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 5, 20172min392

Rebecca Mitchell will take over as the state’s chief water strategist — not her official title; we thought it sounded right — helping guide policy for Colorado’s most coveted resource. Formally speaking, Mitchell was named the new director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, according to an announcement by the state’s Department of Natural Resources. Mitchell is quoted in the announcement:

“I’m excited and fortunate to have an opportunity to serve a state agency filled with committed and thoughtful stewards of Colorado’s precious water resources,” Mitchell said. “Coloradans and our water communities are working like never before to solve our state’s challenges collaboratively. The same kind of cooperation that led to Colorado’s Water Plan will fuel the long-running effort necessary to continue putting the plan into action. What a privilege to be part of this process.”

Mitchell already has been working for the board as chief of its Water Supply Planning Section, which includes the Office of Water Conservation & Drought Planning and focuses on ensuring sufficient water supplies for Colorado’s citizens and the environment.

She also played a key role in producing Colorado’s Water Plan following Gov. John Hickenlooper’s executive order in 2013 directing CWCB to guide development of the plan.

Mitchell has extensive technical and policy expertise in water and worked earlier as a consulting engineer in that field. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Colorado School of Mines (which of course means she’s scary smart).

The announcement included a backgrounder on the low-profile but pivotal role of the board, which was created over 75 years ago to provide policy direction on water issues:

The CWCB is Colorado’s most comprehensive water information resource. The agency maintains expertise in a broad range of programs and provides technical assistance to further the utilization of Colorado’s waters. It is one of six divisions housed within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.