March 01, 2019 Articles

Oil and Gas Development and the Environment: A Balance of Interests

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, according to the Martinez court, must balance the interests of oil and gas development and environmental protection.

By Andrew Glenn

The Colorado Supreme Court recently issued its long-awaited ruling on the authority of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize environmental protection over oil and gas development. In COGCC v. Martinez, the court rejected the assertion that environmental protection must take precedence. Instead, it concluded that, in crafting the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act,

the legislature’s intent was not to create a condition precedent to further oil and gas development. Rather, its intent was to minimize adverse impacts to public health and the environment while at the same time ensuring that oil and gas development, production, and utilization could proceed in an economical manner.

Case No. 17SC297, 2019 CO 3, ¶ 44 (Jan. 14, 2019); see Oil and Gas Conservation Act, Colo. Rev. Stat. § 34-60-101 et al.

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