Thursday, March 15, 2012

Councilman Brian Bagley says oil/gas task force a joke

By Scott Rochat
Longmont Times Call 

Longmont City Councilman Brian Bagley speaks to a small
audience of about 25 during a panel discussion about oil
and gas regulations in Longmont at the American Legion Hall
on Wednesday. Bagley called the state s new oil and gas
task force, of which he is a member a "joke". (Greg Lindstrom)

LONGMONT -- City Councilman Brian Bagley called the state's new oil and gas task force a "joke" during a Wednesday night panel discussion.

Bagley, who belongs to the task force, called it more interested in process than in getting down to issues, and not even that for long. The first meeting last week was scheduled for three hours, Bagley said, but lasted just 40 minutes.

"I said we're a task force -- aren't we supposed to get on task?" Bagley said during an oil and gas panel convened Wednesday by Longmont's 9-12 Tea Party at the American Legion. "The oil and gas task force is just contributing to the problem, because people don't trust the process."
"Nothing's happening," he said. "The task force is a joke."

The official focus for the task force was the same as Wednesday's panel: finding a balance between state and local drilling regulations. Drilling operations are overseen by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, but several communities have pushed for tighter rules at a local level. A draft set of Longmont regulations, for example, bans drilling in residential zones and mandates "closed-loop" systems for cleanup instead of putting waste in an open pit. Other issues, such as increasing the distance between a well and a home, are part of a set of voluntary rules companies can agree to in exchange for a speeded-up permit process.
The challenge is that some areas are "pre-empted" by the state -- but establishing which ones usually requires a court case to decide if the state's needs or the community's take precedence.