COGCC bill makes its way through legislature

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- A controversial bill aimed at changing the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is making its way through the state legislature.

House Bill 1269 would change the COGCC’s mission from promoting and regulation the oil and gas industry, to just regulating it. The bill passed through the house 34-29 Tuesday, but without a clause in the original bill that would prohibit future commissioners from being on the payroll for any oil or gas company.

“The idea that our dynamic industry professionals wouldn't have a rightful place on the gas commission is silly,” said David Ludlam with Colorado Oil and Gas Association. “It'd be like reviewing processes for brain surgery without a surgeon in the room.”

Instead, the bill has been amended so commissioners must abstain from voting on any issue in which they have a personal financial interest.

Proponents of the bill say it would clear up a conflict of interest within the agency.

“The promoting of the industry should not come from a state regulatory agency,” said Petrika Peters, field organizer with Conservation Colorado. “It's inappropriate for our tax dollars to be spent that way."

Todd Hartman, spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources which oversees the COGCC, said the word “promotion” gets misunderstood.

“When people focus on the word promotion they have an idea that we're out there cheering on the industry or supporting the industry in some overt way,” Hartman said.

Hartman said the COGCC is balanced between facilitating oil and gas development while protecting the environment.

“How would industry activity go forward if they only piece of your mission would be to protect the environment? It creates questions around ‘would an oil and gas well even be permitted?’” Hartman said.

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