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Two leading Democratic lawmakers told representatives from the oil and gas industry that the newly-enacted overhaul of Colorado’s oil and gas regulations will mean more stability and remove the need for state ballot measures in the coming years during a legislative reception Tuesday. Their Republican colleagues cautioned the conflicts are now shifted to local officials. Remarks made by House Majority Leader Alec Garnett and Senator Rachel Zenzinger during the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s (COGA) annual end-of-session panel echoed those of Gov. Jared Polis who, after signing SB 181 last month, declared that “it is our hope that the oil and gas wars that have enveloped our state are over.”

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A state agency’s denial on Monday of a critical water permit under federal law and the lack of support from state energy offices in western states could threaten to shut down a liquefied natural gas export terminal meant to draw the fuel from western states and ship to customers across the world, including Asia, resulting in billions in missed economic gains and the loss of critical rural jobs. The decision by Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality to not certify the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas terminal using the Clean Water Act could halt or delay the production and further development of resources in the Uinta basin in Utah and the Piceance Basin in Colorado.

BLM

The Bureau of Land Management had a record year for revenues from onshore oil and gas lease sales, as well as production in 2018, according to data released by the agency this week. Pointing to streamlined permitting processes, the U.S. produced more than 214 million barrels of oil on federally managed public lands while utilizing the smallest acreage footprint of leases since 1985.

Western Wire Managing Editor Michael Sandoval had a full slate of radio appearances this week to discuss a series of emails obtained by Western Wire through an open records request between two of Colorado’s top health officials outlining a series of meetings with state agency staff to discuss a raft of potential policy issues, beginning with suggestions forwarded by a climate action organization formerly headed by one of the officials.

An Interior Department employee touted the progress made in improving communications and stakeholder engagement across the department’s numerous agencies in a congressional hearing Tuesday, while a former employee criticized the handling of the reorganization launched under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, while another. Democrats at the House Natural Resources Committee held a Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing titled, “No Road Map, No Destination, No Justification: The Implementation and Impacts of the Reorganization of the Department of the Interior” earlier in the day.

Western Wire

An anti-fossil fuel group last week issued a call for comments directed at state regulators asking for a 2,500-foot setback and an immediate moratorium on oil and gas permitting for the duration of the agency’s rulemaking process following a contentious battle in the Colorado General Assembly over a reform bill and the failure of a similar setback measure at the ballot box last fall. The call from 350.org comes as the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) takes up rulemaking process following the passage of Senate Bill 181, the comprehensive and controversial reform bill that was signed into law in mid-April, documents show.

Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment

A series of emails obtained by Western Wire through an open records request between two of Colorado’s top health officials outlined a clutch of meetings with state agency staff to discuss a raft of potential policy issues, beginning with suggestions forwarded by a climate action organization formerly headed by one of the officials. On Monday, January 28, Jill Ryan, the new Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment under the Polis administration emailed Garry Kaufman, Division Director of the Air Pollution Control Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment about an upcoming meeting, and shared a list of to-dos suggested by Ryan’s friends at Colorado Communities for Climate Action, an organization Ryan headed as president before resigning to take up the position at CDPHE under Gov. Jared Polis.