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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 31, 20177min110

Lawmakers say many of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s plans to address the oil and gas industry in the aftermath of a tragic explosion in Firestone are already in the works.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former geologist, ordered a review of existing oil and gas operations in the aftermath of the April incident, in which two men died in a home explosion. The incident was caused by natural gas leaking from an old pipeline, according to an initial investigation.

On Tuesday, the governor announced the state’s response, which includes asking the oil and gas industry to take greater responsibility.

One issue the governor is looking at is abandoned wells, which have been estimated as high as 800 in the state. He proposed creating a nonprofit to plug abandoned wells and provide refunds for in-home methane monitors, something which the oil and gas industry could be responsible for.

But Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, says bipartisan legislation he was working on last year would have addressed abandoned wells. A controversial bill that would have extended funding for the Colorado Energy Office was killed on the last day of the session after Republicans and Democrats hit an impasse.

A portion of the initial bill would have required the state to put a stakeholder group together to identify voluntary methods to address funding shortfalls associated with the long-term management of abandoned oil and gas facilities.

“Within that bill we had the orphan well situation in there, we had the mapping, and the Democrats stripped the bill… They need to own that a little bit instead of coming out now and saying the governor is a genius,” Scott said.

He added that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has a fund for abandoned wells, which it could draw from without the oil and gas industry paying additional money for plugging orphan wells.

“That agency has the money to do exactly what needs to be done and they should have been doing it for the last multiple years,” Scott said. “To make an issue today… it’s nonsensical.”

Hickenlooper’s plan would go further than simply identifying voluntary methods to address the long-term management of abandoned wells by actively plugging the wells through a nonprofit, despite Scott’s contention that it could be done without a new program.

Another plan raised by the governor would enhance efforts around protecting underground infrastructure and promoting excavator and public safety education. But Scott said he was working on bipartisan legislation this year with Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, which would have also addressed the issue.

“There’s nothing magical about what he said,” Scott said of Hickenlooper’s plan.

The bill Scott worked on with Donovan last year would have required engineering plans involving excavation to include specific information about the location of underground facilities. Plans would have had to be given to the person conducting the excavation. The bill died in committee.

“The Firestone incident took place and it all became political,” Scott said. “I actually sat down with Sen. Donovan and said, ‘You and I can pass this bill in committee if we just utter the word ‘Firestone.’’ We agreed that was the wrong thing to do.”

He said he has been working on the bill over the summer, which Scott hopes to resurrect in next year’s legislative session. A meeting is scheduled for the end of the month with engineers and architects involved with excavation.

“Had that (policy) been in place, Firestone may have never happened,” Scott said.

“It’s not genuine on his (Hickenlooper’s) part to take things that are already being worked on and try to come out and say, ‘I have a new idea,’” Scott continued.

Meanwhile, some Democrats say plans should go further than what the governor proposed. A handful of lawmakers this year proposed regulating residential development near operations, something that the governor does not mention in his Tuesday announcement. That discussion could resume again in the legislature next year.

“This plan isn’t protective enough,” Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, said of the governor’s announcement.

“Colorado should be prioritizing people’s health and safety, and not big corporations’ profits. Oil and gas operations have no business being near people’s homes, playgrounds, or schools, and the public has a right to know exactly where existing flowlines are. It is downright baffling to me that within all these steps and proposals, there is not a single suggestion to include the voices of and receive input from homeowners, who are the most impacted by oil and gas operations. Those families are the ones who are in fear of breathing carcinogenic gas or being blown up – why aren’t they being included in the decision-making process?

“I’m going to keep working to keep these dangerous operations away from people and to protect people’s property rights…” Jones continued. “The governor pledged to ‘take any necessary action to ensure this doesn’t happen again,’ and I hope he joins me in that effort.”

Other plans announced by the governor include strengthening regulations around existing gas lines; prohibiting homeowners from tapping into industry gas lines; creating a workgroup to improve safety training; requesting a review of some state rules; and exploring a methane leak detection pilot program.

House Democratic Leader KC Becker of Boulder said the plans are “good steps but certainly not the end of the conversation.”

“Public health and safety should be our No. 1 concern,” Becker said. “I hope we can make progress in that regard in the 2018 legislative session.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 22, 20176min200

After a three-month review following a home explosion that killed two people in Firestone, Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday placed some of the onus on oil and gas operators.

The April explosion was caused by natural gas leaking from an old pipeline, an incident that renewed a broader political conversation.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former geologist, ordered a review of existing oil and gas operations in the aftermath of the incident.

On Tuesday, the governor announced the state’s response, which includes asking the oil and gas industry to take greater responsibility. Steps include:

  • Creating a nonprofit to plug as many as 800 abandoned wells and provide refunds for in-home methane monitors, something which the oil and gas industry could be responsible for;
  • Strengthening regulations around existing gas lines;
  • Enhancing efforts around protecting underground infrastructure and promoting excavator and public safety education;
  • Prohibiting homeowners from tapping into industry gas lines;
  • Creating a workgroup to improve safety training;
  • Requesting a review of some state rules; and
  • Exploring a methane leak detection pilot program.

Hickenlooper in May pointed out that there is no database of older existing gas lines, but aside from enhancing efforts around protecting underground infrastructure and excavations, there is no plan for mapping existing lines. Concerns were raised that it would be difficult to prohibit homeowners from tapping into industry lines if a public map was available.

“At the time of the explosion, we committed to do all we could to ensure that what happened to the Martinez and Irwin families never happens again,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “The actions we announced today are a responsible and appropriate response that places public safety first.”

The bodies of brothers-in-law Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin, both 42, were discovered in the basement one day after the explosion. Martinez’s wife, Erin, was seriously injured.

A well sits 178 feet from the home in Firestone, in which the two wen were killed in a devastating explosion.

The underground line had been cut about 10 feet from the house, state regulators said. Gas seeped through the ground and into the basement, where it exploded on April 17.

The governor’s office hopes to implement the proposals within a year. Some steps could be taken through state regulators, but others could require the legislature’s approval.

A handful of lawmakers this year proposed regulating residential development near operations, something that the governor does not mention in his Tuesday announcement. That discussion could resume again in the legislature next year.

Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, who has led many anti-fracking discussions in the legislature, is already considering such legislation.

At the time of the explosion, he said, “As more information has come to light, it has become clearer that these oil wells, pipes, and tanks are simply too dangerous to be in close proximity to homes, businesses, and schools. We need to take steps to ensure a tragedy like this doesn’t happen again.”

From the industry’s standpoint, the Colorado Petroleum Council said it is committed to “safe and responsible operations, environmental stewardship, and economic prosperity for communities throughout the state.”

“The tragic event in Firestone earlier this summer serves to reaffirm the oil and natural gas industry’s long-standing commitment with regulators and emergency officials to never let up on our core value of safety,” said CPC Executive Director Tracee Bentley. “We are committed to working with the governor and the state over the next several months as we work through these proposals, all the while continuing to deliver the energy that runs our state and our country with the highest possible standards and safety practices.”

Dan Haley, president and chief executive of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, issued a similar response: “Colorado’s oil and gas industry just completed a rigorous safety examination and reporting process in full cooperation with the COGCC following the tragedy in Firestone.

“While the results confirm the high safety standards practiced by the industry, we’ve also engaged in several conversations with a number of stakeholders over the past few months, including state legislators on both sides of the aisle and the governor. We look forward to closely reviewing the details of the governor’s proposal and will fully engage in conversations about next steps.”

Hickenlooper also announced that the Department of Public Health and Environment will form an alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. The goal is to collaboratively address safety within the industry. The effort launches in September.

“Our state is fortunate to receive a federal grant to evaluate and address worker safety specific to oil and gas operations” said Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director of CDPHE. “Public health and safety protections need to extend to these workers and we are fortunate to have the collaborative support and leadership of the the governor, industry and our federal agency partners.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 22, 20174min180

While ozone levels are falling in north metro Denver, both sides of the oil-and-gas development debate are taking a deep breath to explain why.

State regulators report that emissions of volatile organic compounds, a key ingredient in ground-level ozone, have fallen by one-half in metro Denver and the northern Front Range, the battlefield over fracking.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry group, reports that meanwhile production statewide quadrupled during the six-year period.

The industry, its association said, has reduced emissions and mitigated effects “as part of its ongoing commitment to being good stewards of our natural resources and protecting the environment.”

The falling numbers prove regulations are working and more can be done, said Dan Grossman, the Environmental Defense Fund’s Rocky Mountain regional director and senior director of EDF’s state programs on oil and gas.

“Colorado’s oil and gas industry is responsible for the emission of hundreds of thousands of tons of ozone-precursor VOCs and climate-disrupting methane each year,” he told Colorado Politics. “And as the state looks to comply with the more stringent 2015 ozone standard of 70 ppb, and to continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels.

Grossman added, “Simple, cost-effective measures (such as increased inspection requirements for smaller wells and replacing leaky pneumatic devices with more efficient ones) are readily available to industry to further reduce pollution from the state’s oil and gas facilities. It is past time to implement them.”

Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the reductions can be attributed to “technological innovation, regulatory initiatives currently on the books and leadership from our industry.”

COGA pointed out that the West’s “background” ozone levels, those that occur naturally without a human-related cause, are the highest in the United States.

“Consequently, addressing ozone related challenges in Colorado is an extremely difficult, economy-wide undertaking, as only 20 to 30 percent of the emissions needed to form ozone in the non-attainment area are actually produced by Colorado-based human activity,” COGA said in a statement. “These activities include but are not limited to cars, boats, planes, tractors, as well as industrial plants, lawn and garden equipment, and even household products like paints, solvents, and hair spray.”

The announcement was part of the industry’s “Clear the Air: The Facts on CEO” campaign. The CEO stands for climate, energy and ozone.

The industry has invested heavily in research and public outreach to convince Coloradans not to impose new rules that could drive the business out of the state.

“This summer’s ozone season is not over yet, and there is a lot Coloradans can do to mitigate ground-level ozone and reduce the number of ozone-exceedance days,” Haley said in a satement. “COGA will continue sharing the facts and working with members of industry to support ongoing efforts to reduce emissions in the nonattainment area.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 16, 20174min150

As city fathers in Thornton examine local regulations on fracking at their meeting next week, they’re sitting on a letter advice warning them not to test state law.

“Under the law of operational preemption, local governments may not enact regulations that conflict with the Oil and Gas Conservation Act … or COGCC regulations in a matter of mixed or statewide concern,” states the letter from the Attorney General’s Office.

“Many matters addressed by the Draft Regulations are already regulated by the COGCC and similar regulations have caused local communities to come into conflict with the state in the past.”

And those local governments haven’t had any success challenging the state’s authority to regulate oil and gas operations.

The Thornton City Council gave preliminary approval to new guidelines that would prevent companies from abandoning flow lines, require them to carry at least $5 million in liability insurance and maintain 750-foot setbacks, all of which exceed state requirements.

A copy of the letter was provided to Colorado Politics by Vital Colorado, the statewide business coalition that supports responsible energy development.

Vital for Colorado Chairman Peter Moore released the a statement Tuesday in response to the letter:

“The attorney general’s office is saying local officials who stand up to anti-fracking groups will have the law on their side,. They will also be saving their taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasteful spending on litigation, because state law could not be clearer on this point.

“The Colorado Supreme Court reaffirmed decades of case law in a decision last year striking down local energy bans. In that decision, the court said a local ordinance ‘that authorizes what state law forbids or that forbids what state law authorizes’ will be necessarily preempted by state law and COGCC regulations.

“This decision, along with the failure of statewide anti-fracking ballot measures, was a huge defeat for the anti-fracking campaign in Colorado. So now they are giving local officials just plain bad legal advice to trigger more conflict and more litigation, instead of constructive dialogue.”

Vital for Colorado cited a “network of fringe environmental groups” they say are lobbying local officials o the Front Range to kill the extraction industry, even as Weld County sits atop one the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S.

Residents cite concerns about the proximity of wells and pipelines to homes and schools, as well as potential air quality concerns. The industry has invested millions in public education to convince Coloradans that fracking is a safe, clean industry. Their message was complicated by a house explosion that killed two people in Firestone, which was linked to an Anadarko Petroleum line.

“The activist campaign to pressure local officials has also included unsuccessful recall efforts of local officials in Thornton and in neighboring Broomfield,” Vital for Colorado said.

The Thornton City Council meeting is at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at City Hall at 9500 Civic Center Drive in Thornton. Comments or questions can be sent to oilandgasregulations@cityofthornton.net.


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 4, 20177min60
Opponents and backers of an Obama administration rule to rein in flaring on public lands are using competing opinion polls as the U.S. Senate is expected to consider a measure to rescind the rule. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., is still considering his stance on the issue while Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is opposed to the move. (Photo Courtesy NOAA.gov)
(Photo Courtesy NOAA.gov)

A federal appeals court blocked a Trump administration effort to suspend an Obama-era methane regulation with input from Colorado.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has long been dedicated to the subject of methane, dating back to 2014 when the state passed the first methane regulations in the nation. Producers are required to use infrared cameras to detect leaks in production equipment, conduct instrument-based monthly inspections on large sources of emissions and implement expedited timelines for repairing leaks.

In 2015, the Obama administration proposed the first-ever national methane regulations aimed at significantly cutting the greenhouse gas, after Colorado paved the way. The rule was implemented last year.

The proposal called for a reduction in methane emissions from the oil-and-gas industry by as much as 45 percent from 2012 levels in the next 10 years. In addition to cutting greenhouse gases, it also would reduce volatile organic compounds, referred to as VOCs.

The 2-1 decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Monday serves as a blow to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration, which is trying to unravel a series of Obama-era environmental regulations.

Pruitt said last month that the agency would suspend the national leak detection and repair standards for 90 days. He later extended the moratorium for two years on enforcement of parts of the EPA methane rule.

But the appeals court said the EPA’s decision was “unreasonable,” “arbitrary” and “capricious,” ruling that the agency does not have the authority under the Clean Air Act to suspend enforcement. The appellate court said the EPA would have to launch a new rule-making process to rollback the Obama administration’s regulations.

Days earlier, on Friday, Hickenlooper announced Colorado would join 13 other states and the District of Columbia in seeking implementation of the EPA methane rule. The state asked the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals for permission to join the lawsuit. Six environmental groups initiated the complaint.

The Environmental Defense Fund, one of the groups behind the lawsuit, called Pruitt’s suspension of the Obama-era rule “a move that puts the health and safety of Americans across the country at risk.”

“Suspending the standards threatens the health and welfare of Americans who live in close proximity to oil and gas development by allowing thousands of tons of these harmful air pollutants to be emitted into the atmosphere,” read a statement from EDF.

Methane strongly absorbs infrared radiation, much more so than carbon dioxide, which adds to climate change.

The Four Corners – including southwest Colorado – has been identified as having the highest concentration of methane in the nation. Researchers have been investigating the cause, which could be a mix of energy development and natural occurrences.

Hickenlooper’s lawsuit is being filed without assistance from Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Coffman has been at odds with Hickenlooper over environmental issues.

In 2015, Coffman found herself in a battle with Hickenlooper when she entered the state into a lawsuit that aimed at blocking implementation of federal carbon-pollution standards. The Trump administration has also sought to rollback those Obama-era mandates.

Coffman has maintained that as an elected attorney general for the state, she has independent authority over legal action. In the methane case, Coffman’s office believes a review of the EPA rule would not impose on Colorado’s regulatory scheme, and that the courts will ultimately allow for the suspension to move forward.

The oil and gas industry says the methane rule is duplicative, costly, and will undermine America’s competitiveness. The industry already has significantly reduced methane through innovation, voluntary efforts, and existing regulations, oil and gas producers argue.

But the governor’s office has long-term concerns.

“Colorado has a vested interest in the federal government regulating methane emissions from the oil and gas industry across all 50 states,” read a statement from Hickenlooper’s office.

“Colorado led the way in 2014 by becoming the first state in the country to regulate methane leaks. These regulations were developed in concert with the oil and gas industry. As a result, this type of regulation is a win-win: it improves the environment and helps reduce leakage and lost revenue in the production and transportation of oil and gas. The EPA used Colorado’s regulations as a template for the federal approach to this issue. Without these rules, Colorado’s methane levels will increase due to pollution from neighboring states, which is why federal regulation is so important.”


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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJune 20, 20177min151

An effort to save much of the Colorado Energy Office failed on Tuesday after Republicans objected to a funding request made by the governor’s office.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, asked for $3.1 million to preserve the Energy Office, which — in addition to promoting renewable energy — also assists schools, the agriculture industry and developers reduce energy costs.

But in a 3-3 vote, the Joint Budget Committee killed the request down party lines.

“There was a request to carry this as a JBC bill originally and we in our discussions thought it was more of a policy question because this office and its mission has been somewhat controversial for years,” said Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, a member of the JBC.

The debate by the JBC picked up where frustrations left off in the legislature this year. State lawmakers hit an impasse on the last day of the legislative session over a measure that also would have provided $3.1 million for the office.

“We hoped it would find its way through the legislature with a more acceptable definition of its mission and job, but that didn’t happen,” Rankin continued. “It’s a policy issue and I would not be prepared to just continue it in its current form after that whole session of discussion.”

Without the money, 24 staff positions could be cut. The Energy Office will be able to retain about 10 employees thanks to federal funds

“Based on my conversations with leadership, I had hoped for a different result,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “The Colorado Energy Office plays a vital role in promoting innovative production and efficient consumption practices for all energy resources. The Energy Office administers a wide range of programs that save Coloradans millions in energy costs ..,. We will continue to explore all options to fund this important work.”

The JBC had a largely cordial discussion over the office. There appeared to be a will to come up with funding, but not through the JBC process and not without additional conversations.

Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, a member of the JBC, reminded her colleagues that it was simply a temporary funding fix.

“If we did approve the staff recommendation, it would just be for one year of funding, and that would allow us to continue the office and continue the conversations moving forward,” Hamner said.

Republicans felt it was inappropriate for the JBC to be approving a supplemental funding request from the governor’s office after the legislature debated the issue and could not come to an agreement.

“We concur fully with the decision today of the Joint Budget Committee to not circumvent the legislature’s decision to halt additional funding for the Energy Office,” Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, said in a statement. “Bipartisan discussions are ongoing to develop legislation for the 2018 session that will establish a Colorado Energy Office with the broad mission of promoting all sectors of the energy industry for the benefit of all Coloradans.”

Much of the conversation this year became embroiled in partisan politics as Democrats called for greater oversight over the oil and gas industry, while Republicans sought to broaden the Energy Office’s purpose to provide a greater voice to the industry.

Discussions became particularly tense following a home explosion in Firestone in April linked to natural gas leaking from an old pipeline. The incident killed two men.

The 57-page Senate Bill 301, which was bipartisan in sponsorship but opposed by many Democrats, would have provided the $3.1 million while also doing away with certain programs. It was supported by Hickenlooper’s Energy Office, as the office was hoping to convince a split legislature to maintain funding.

The Republican-controlled Senate had included provisions that would have made changes to a host of renewable energy and other programs in the state, including eliminating some of those programs. The Senate version would have expanded the Colorado Energy Office’s focus to include nuclear and hydropower, while giving the oil and gas industry a greater voice.

It also focused heavily on natural gas, aiming at eliminating a prohibition on investor-owned utilities owning natural gas reserves. An investor-owned utility is owned by private investors and members. The legislation would have directed the state to create rules allowing an investor-owned utility to acquire an interest in Colorado-based natural gas reserves for up to 50 percent of its needs.

A provision of the legislation also would have raised registration fees for electric vehicles, which had some Democratic lawmakers concerned.

Democrats approved a trimmed bill, which would have continued funding for the Colorado Energy Office, but it also would have stripped many of the provisions stemming from the Senate. In the end, the two legislative chambers could not find consensus.

“Republicans’ refusal to simply restore funding to this critical office means that Colorado’s status as a clean energy leader could be jeopardized, not to mention the ripple effects on our booming clean energy economy,” Amelia Myers, energy advocate for Conservation Colorado, said following Tuesday’s JBC vote. “Governor Hickenlooper should now use any means necessary to find funding for the Colorado Energy Office in order to keep its important work moving forward.”


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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanMay 31, 20175min270

Both “sides” in the arguments over oil and gas development say the other is “taking advantage” of the explosions in Firestone and Mead. This should not be a time for sides. This should be a time for serious analysis. It can also provide an opening that should, for the sake of everyone in the state, cut through sides to allow common sense to function. Both accidents caused violent fire and explosions leading to death and serious injuries in non-industrial environments. The Mead accident occurred 1,000 feet from other buildings, according to reports. The Firestone explosion blew up a house as a pipe leaked gas that followed French drains into the Martinez’s basement.


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Peter MarcusMay 16, 20178min110

Environmental groups are encouraging the governor not to appeal a Colorado Court of Appeals decision emphasizing health and safety in permitting drilling.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat and former geologist, has until Thursday to decide whether to appeal the case, which could require state oil and gas regulators to take another look at a request to suspend fracking until drillers can prove it is safe.

The requests from environmental groups comes at a politically charged time for the oil and gas industry. A recent home explosion in Firestone linked to natural gas leaking from an old pipeline spurred debates in the legislature, as well as renewed talks of ballot initiatives.

Environmental groups have delivered letters to the governor urging him not to appeal the case. More than 1,500 residents, 39 local elected officials and community leaders, and 13 state lawmakers signed onto the letters. Hickenlooper has often found himself at odds with anti-industry activists who believe the governor is too cozy with the industry.

The initial 2013 case involved Xiuhtezcatl Martinez of Boulder and other teenagers, who asked state regulators to adopt regulations stating that drilling permits could not be issued without a finding that operations would not impact Colorado’s air, water and wildlife and that public health would be protected.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees regulations of the oil and gas industry in Colorado, denied the request, arguing that it lacked the authority.

The COGCC’s mission has been set by the legislature to foster “responsible, balanced”  energy development “in a manner consistent with public health, safety, and environmental and wildlife impacts.”

The appeals court ruling said, “Critical here is the proper interpretation of the phrase ‘in a manner consistent with.’ We agree with Petitioners that ‘in a manner consistent with’ does not indicate a balancing test but rather a condition that must be fulfilled.”

In the 2013 request, the group of teenagers asked the state to deny drilling permits “unless the best available science demonstrates, and an independent third party organization confirms, that drilling can occur in a manner that does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health and does not contribute to climate change.”

The COGCC in 2014 denied the request following a hearing. The proposal has drawn opposition from powerful oil and gas industry interests, as well as the state.

The group of teenagers took the case to Denver District Court, which sided with the state. The case was appealed, with the teenagers arguing that the lower court misinterpreted the mission of the COGCC.

In March, the three-judge appellate panel said the COGCC’s mission “was not intended to require that a balancing test be applied.”

“The clear language … mandates that the development of oil and gas in Colorado be regulated subject to the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources,” the appellate court wrote.

If the case is not appealed, then the proposal would go back to the COGCC to reconsider the petition. Hickenlooper’s administration can appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court by Thursday.

“We are aware of the requests from interested parties and are taking the time to give this case a thorough review,” said a spokeswoman for Hickenlooper on Tuesday.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association said the appellate court ruling “disrupts decades of regulatory precedent.”

“We believe the state should appeal this decision to the Colorado Supreme Court. Through the Colorado Oil and Gas Act, the law directs the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to balance a variety of development interests, including the environment,” said Dan Haley, president and chief executive of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

“The Appeals Court ruling disregards decades of precedent in utilizing the balance test described in statute. The COGCC, which voted unanimously to appeal this decision, has employed this balancing act on numerous occasions as evidenced by Colorado’s comprehensive regulations, which are among the most stringent in that nation.”

The association pointed out that Colorado was the first state in the nation to disclose the chemicals in hydraulic fracturing, and to require pre- and post-drilling groundwater monitoring.

The conversation intensified after the recent event in Firestone, where a home that sits 178 feet from a well exploded, killing two men. The bodies of brothers-in-law Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin, both 42, were discovered in the basement one day after the explosion. Martinez’s wife, Erin, was seriously injured.

Following the incident, Hickenlooper ordered a review of existing oil and gas operations. He also expressed interest in developing a database of older existing gas lines.

Lawmakers this year discussed setback legislation, in which wells would have been further setback from schools by mapping the distance from school property lines. After the Firestone explosion other efforts were discussed to map gas lines. The proposals died over industry and Republican objections.

“Several bills that would have done a better job of protecting Colorado communities from oil and gas failed in the state Senate during this past legislative session,” said Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “Now, it’s up to the governor to take this opportunity to protect public health and the environment and do all that he can to prevent tragedies like Firestone.”

“All the Martinez decision says is that Colorado must protect public health, safety, and the environment when approving oil and gas development,” said Mike Freeman, an attorney with Earthjustice. “But the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has been telling Coloradans for years that it already does that. If the COGCC has been meeting its obligations to protect Coloradans, the State should have no objection to the court’s ruling.”