Governor Expected To Recommend Against Appealing Oil And Gas Court Decision, But AG Likely To Back Unanimous Decision By COGCC
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is expected today to recommend against appealing a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in a lawsuit concerning oil and natural gas development in the state, multiple sources tell Western Wire. The ruling, if left to stand, would upend how the state’s oil and natural gas regulatory agency has approached project permitting for decades.
Regardless of the governor’s recommendation, the decision to appeal the ruling rests with state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R). According Colorado statute, the attorney general represents the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission – not the governor – in all court proceedings concerning the commission. On May 1, the COGCC, comprised of all Hickenlooper appointees, voted unanimously to appeal the decision. The deadline for the appeal is today.
Environmental groups sued the COGCC after the agency rejected their request to suspend approvals of oil and natural gas projects unless it can be demonstrated that drilling “does not adversely impact human health and does not contribute to climate change.” In March, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the environmental groups in a 2-1 decision.
Environmental groups have been lobbying the governor to let the court decision stand, while business organizations in the state have urged an appeal.
“Forcing the COGCC and the state’s energy sector to answer to fringe environmental groups who believe regulation is impossible, and who only support sweeping energy bans, would be a huge mistake,” a coalition of business groups wrote in a May 17 letter to the governor. The groups include the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry, Colorado Business Roundtable and Vital for Colorado.