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Coverage of energy that moves beyond polarized arguments and emotional debate to explore the points of tension, the tradeoffs and opportunities, and the very human consequences of energy policy, production, use and innovation.Inside Energy is a collaboration of seven public media outlets in the nation's energy epicenter: Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota.

Colorado's Oil & Gas Task Force Whittles Down Recommendations

Dan Boyce
Inside Energy
Task force member Will Toor holds up a green sheet to vote in favor of a policy recommendation during the group's February 3 meeting.

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.

Task force member Jon Goldin-Dubois worries the industry members of the group will not come to substantive compromise on the biggest conflict, giving local governments more control over where drilling can take place.

"If we don't address that, we will have failed," Goldin-Dubois said.

As reported by The Denver Post, the task force did advance a proposal requiring drillers seek local approval before applying for state permits. Local governments and operators would go through a mediation process if there was disagreement. The measure is less than what the local control advocates wanted, and members like Goldin-Dubois said it doesn't go far enough.

The Associated Press writes that proposals to increase the distance between homes or schools and drilling operations – known as the setback – most likely will not be advanced by the task force.

While industry members of the task force declined comment, Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Tisha Schuller was watching the proceedings. She said the past five months of meetings have proved there are no easy answers to these conflicts. She pointed out many of the recommendations suggested by industry members have been warmly received by the group as a whole.

"It seems to me that real collaboration is happening," Schuller said, "and all the participants are trying to work towards complex solutions that aren't going to meet everyone's needs but are going to move the process forward."

The task force will meet for the final time February 24, at which time they will take final votes on the policy recommendations. Those receiving at least a two-thirds vote will advance to either the legislature or to the governor's office for consideration.

Dan Boyce moved to the Inside Energy team at Rocky Mountain PBS in 2014, after five years of television and radio reporting in his home state of Montana. In his most recent role as Montana Public Radio’s Capitol Bureau Chief, Dan produced daily stories on state politics and government.
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