A Court Order Halting Agency Actions Would Prevent Any Oil and Gas Permitting for Months While the Commission Promulgates Revised Regulations
On October 8, 2019, a citizens group based in Broomfield, Colorado, filed suit in Denver District Court requesting a Court order for an immediate stay of all actions by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (“COGCC”) involving “permitting of any drilling, pooling, and spacing units until the COGCC rulemaking is completed.”
The Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee filed the suit claiming that the passage in April 2019 of Senate Bill 19-181 changed the oil and gas regulatory mission of the COGCC so completely that no further permits should be issued until the agency proposes and ultimately promulgates revised regulations to implement the changes to the statute that circumscribes the authority and duties of the agency. The centerpiece of the suit is the revised language of the statute which now requires the COGCC to “[R]egulate the development and production of the natural resources of oil and gas in the state of Colorado in a manner that protects public health, safety, and welfare, including the protection of the environment and wildlife resources.” § 34-60-1-2(1)(a)(1), C.R.S. (2019).
The lawsuit challenges the rulings of an administrative hearing officer related to applications for permits submitted to the COGCC by Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc. (“XOG”) for its proposed 880-acre horizontal wellbore spacing unit. Nevertheless, the Plaintiff expands its request for declaratory relief from the Court to stay (1) not only agency actions related to the XOG permit application, but also (2) to halt ALL agency actions on ANY OTHER PERMIT applications pending before the agency, or which might be submitted before new regulations are promulgated pursuant to Senate Bill 19-181.
See Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Denver District Court, State of Colorado.
Link to pdf of Complaint: Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee v. COGCC
This post was drafted by John Watson, an attorney in the Denver, CO office of Spencer Fane LLP. For more information, visit spencerfane.com.
For earlier Spencer Fane news items on oil and gas regulatory and judicial actions in Colorado, see the following:
- 01.28.2019: Colorado lawsuit claims “forced pooling” in oil and gas development is unconstitutional. Is this the next step to try to ban the industry?
- 01.04.2019: Colorado Oil and Gas Development – State Supreme Court Upholds COGCC Decision in Martinez Case
- 08.02.2018: Oil and Gas Development Would Be Blocked on 85% of Non-Federal Land in Colorado