Colorado governor advocates more state-federal regulatory cooperation

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) called for cooperation instead of confrontation between states and the federal government in improving regulations covering unconventional oil and gas development. “Regulation should be appropriate,” he told the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “States are the ideal laboratory. We steal from each other every day.”

States historically have developed the best regulations, and collaborate frequently through the National Governors Association and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, Hickenlooper said during the Feb. 12 committee hearing on US gas opportunities.

The US Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, have been very helpful, he said.

“We should have our full regulatory approach together by the end of this year, measuring emissions around these large fields, encouraging producers to use fewer trucks and reduce dust, and run more rigs on gas than on diesel fuel,” the governor said.

Hickenlooper said he and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) began to promote using gas to fuel more state vehicles more than 1 year ago.

“What started with Oklahoma and Colorado now has expanded to 22 states representing every region of the country,” Hickenlooper said.

He expects “eventual federal regulations modeled after a group of states, not in addition to what states already do.”

Hickenlooper said he already talked with [US Interior Secretary] Ken Salazar about standardizing the drilling application form for federal and state lands.

NRDC questions state qualifications

Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances A. Beineke questioned whether states had the necessary qualifications to adequately protect residents during a gas development boom.

“There’s a huge gap between the information the public has, and what’s happening in their communities,” she said.

Hickenlooper acknowledged that as technology continues to improve, exploration and production have arrived on the doorsteps of communities that haven’t previously dealt with it.

“These are industrial processes that are getting close to our homes and schools,” Hickenlooper said. “We need to ensure that there isn’t unnecessary flaring, that operations are safe, and that our water supplies are protected.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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