Letters to the Editor

Acting COGCC head has got to go

State Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, delivered this letter to Gov. Bill Ritter on Dec. 15.

Dear Gov. Ritter,

There is mounting evidence that sweeping new rules regulating oil and gas exploration will make an already deteriorating economic environment in Colorado’s natural gas industry drastically worse.

At the same time, the acting director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has expressed a staggering indifference to mounting job losses in this important sector, cavalierly describing these troubling trends as mere “moderation.”

When it comes to fighting for job creation and investment in rural Colorado, “moderate” job loss is unacceptable.

I sincerely hope that when the General Assembly reconvenes in January, your administration will move quickly to work with members of the Legislature to restore some common sense and balance to these onerous rules.

In the meantime, your administration can send a clear message that you do not view the loss of thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars in new investment, as acceptable “moderation.” You can do so by replacing Mr. (David) Neslin as the acting director of the COGCC.

Mr. Neslin has demonstrated a breathtaking indifference to dramatic deterioration in Western Colorado’s energy economy.

He told the Rocky Mountain News that, “It looks like the level of (drilling) will moderate next year,” further noting that “even if the level of drilling were to decrease 20 to 30 percent, that would take us back to where we were a couple of years ago….” He has made similarly flippant comments elsewhere.

While Mr. Neslin and a handful of bureaucrats may view a multibillion-dollar reduction in economic activity as acceptable “moderation,” the growing number of Coloradans who have lost their jobs and businesses would say it is a radically life-changing event. I agree, and believe we have an obligation as leaders to act.

The uncertainty caused by the new COGCC rules are making Colorado’s already difficult economic situation worse.

Just last week, Encana announced a cut of approximately $300 million in Colorado investment — a reduction of nearly 50 percent of their investment in Western Colorado.

Unfortunately, Encana is not alone.

Their announcement is just the most recent in what has become an almost daily stream of bad news from energy companies. These companies are looking to relocate their capital, their tax revenues, and their thousands of high-paying jobs to other states with more balanced and less hostile regulatory environments.

Western Colorado has already lost billions of dollars in new capital investment in the midst of a recession, and this is not acceptable.

I hope that you will agree that where we need “moderation” is in the rules themselves, and on the COGCC.

Thank you in advance for your action on this important issue.

Sincerely,
Rep. Steven A. King
HD 44
Grand Junction