It's a busy week under the gold dome. The Governor's oil and gas task force, which was charged with trying to harmonize local oil and gas regulations with statewide interests will soon be wrapping up. Many lawmakers have been holding off on introducing oil and gas legislation until the commission finishes its work.
A debate on drones - one that does not fall along party lines - will get a hearing in the Senate Tuesday. For thoughts on what's happening at the capitol, talked to some of the reporters who work there daily.
Colorado's farms and ranches produce more than $7 billion in goods each year.
Credit Jessica Reeder / Flickr - Creative Commons
Colorado has a new agriculture commissioner: Don Brown, a Yuma County farmer who raises beef cattle and grows corn. Governor John Hickenlooper tapped Brown for the position following the retirement of former commissioner John Salazar.
The City of Fort Collins is set to file an opening brief in its appeal of a fracking moratorium struck down in 2014 by a state judge. The February 6 deadline for the filing marked an early step in a case whose final decision likely will not come for several months, said the city's attorney's office.
The Fort Collins case is just one of many bans or moratoriums passed, sued over, and struck down since 2012, when Longmont became the first Colorado town to institute a ban on hydraulic fracturing. As new bans are passed and lawsuits against those votes have wound their way through the courts, it's become a little difficult to keep track of the standing of various bans and moratoriums.
For reference, KUNC has put together a chart tracking the status of drilling or fracking bans or moratoriums in Northern Colorado.
Paring their list of recommendations down from 56 to about 40, Colorado's 21-member Oil and Gas Task Force has just one more meeting to make final decisions to meet an end of the month deadline. Their recommendations [.pdf] range from hiring more staff at oil and gas regulatory agencies to requiring greater disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process.
Eric Ewing once described his family's two acre plot on the rural Northern Colorado plains as heaven on earth. Now however, Ewing's household is surrounded by the unmistakable signs of oil and gas production - a large new processing facility, clusters of wells and tanks, even a recently drilled well 650 feet from his home.
"It feels like I live in a factory now," he said.
Ewing's concerns about noise, air pollution and quality of life impacts are exactly what Governor Hickenlooper's Oil and Gas Task Force is trying to appease. The group was created as part of a deal to avoid a handful of competing oil and gas ballot measures. But, time is running out for the group to submit policy recommendations.