New rules for the Oil and Gas Industry passed last week haven't even taken effect yet, but its effects are already being felt on the western slope.
Today State Representative Steve King sent a letter to Governor Bill Ritter; In it he says there is mounting evidence that new rules regulating oil and gas exploration will make an already deteriorating economic environment in Colorado’s natural gas industry drastically worse.
King says, "we have seen a significant slow down in the energy sector, to in my opinion a major degree that is the fear of these rules and the burdens they present." David Neslin, the acting director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says this isn't the intention of the new rules, "our objective is to provide for the continued development of the state's energy resources while better protecting the state's environment, public health and local communities."
But Representative King says these rules are affecting the financial health of western Colorado which is just as important as our land.
King says Neslin expressed a staggering indifference to mounting job losses in this important sector, calling the trends moderate.
King says of Neslin "that 30 to 40 percent decline is moderation. For those people that are losing their jobs, that are losing their homes and businesses. That's not moderation, that’s a drastic change."
Neslin says his comment to the Rocky Mountain News was taken out of context, "it doesn't state or imply that such a decrease is a good thing or that I’m unconcerned with the resulting loss of jobs."
In the letter King highlights that EnCana announced a cut of about 300 million dollars in Colorado investment, and Nabors Drilling tells 11-News it is laying off 22 of its workers from its Fruita office this Friday.
King says this is unacceptable and that Governor Ritter and his administration can send a clear message that they do not view the loss of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in new investment as acceptable moderation.
King wants Ritter’s administration to remove Neslin as the acting director of COGCC because King believes that Colorado will be in a recession soon, "and how long we stay in that recession depends on this governor, these rules and the oil and gas commission."
Neslin points out that these are not his rules and that the rules were passed in a unanimous vote by the Oil and Gas Commission. As far as his replacement, he says this is ultimately the governor’s decision and that he is open to speaking with representative king about his letter.
The governor's office did not call us back for comment but in a press release issued this afternoon says he praises the new rules.