Colorado Governor Creates Hydraulic Fracking Task Force

On February 29, 2012, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper issued an executive order on the intersection between state and local regulations concerning oil and gas development.

This executive order was, among other reasons, executed “in large part due to horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing that together are launching new shale oil and gas plays in counties and municipalities.”

Under the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (“COGCC”) has broad authority to promulgate regulations concerning oil and gas development.

Counties and municipalities, on the other hand, when regulating the use of land within their boundaries, have statutory authority to balance basic human needs and environmental concerns.

Increased oil and gas activity with new technology has led counties and municipalities to revisit their regulations.

The executive order creates a task force, comprised of state and local officials, to:
identify and strive to reach agreement on mechanisms to work collaboratively and coordinate state and local jurisdiction regulatory structures for the purpose of benefiting Colorado's economy and protecting public health, the environment and wildlife, and to avoid duplication and conflict of state and local jurisdiction regulations of oil and gas activities and to help foster a climate that encourages responsible development.
Among other items, the task force is to review regulations and issues regarding setbacks, floodplain restrictions, protection of wildlife and livestock, noise abatement, operational methods employed by oil and gas activities, air quality and dust management, traffic management and impacts, and fees, financial assurance, and inspection.

The goal is to clarify and coordinate regulatory jurisdiction over these issues and might include letters of cooperation and consent between state and local jurisdictions or changes to existing laws and regulations.

A more detailed Fulbright client briefing will follow soon.

This article was prepared by Jennifer Cadena ( or 303 801 2755) of Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.