Following a further extension of an agreement between state and federal agencies regarding oil and gas industry oversight on public lands, the Colorado state director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking to provide a better understanding of just what that agreement does and does not do.
The 2009 agreement between the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, BLM, and US Forest Service was a 10-year one that came to attention as its expiration neared last year. The Trump administration has been easing regulations on drilling on federal lands even as state regulators have moved to tighten them in accordance with Senate Bill 181, an oil and gas measure passed last year. That has raised questions about whether a new deal addressing mutual regulation of drilling on public land could be reached.
Colorado BLM Director Jamie Connell told local county commissioners and others at a meeting in Rifle, Colorado, last week that the 2009 memorandum of understanding (MOU) granted no authorities to the state or federal agencies when it comes to regulating the industry and can’t legally do so.
“The idea that this MOU would somehow have changed anybody’s authority for operations on public land, it perplexes me that that got into people’s mindsets so much,” Connell said.
She said the state has its authorities that it implements under state law and the same goes for federal agencies under federal law.
“The MOU is just the place where we write down how we’re going to manage things together,” she said.
Officials extended the agreement in the summer for 6 months. It then expired at year’s end, but the agencies last week signed an indefinite extension of it, retroactive to the start of the new year.
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