In other words, oil and gas-development opponents and proponents should prepare for years of complicated rulemaking and public comment opportunities at the Colorado agencies, and a possible “soft” moratorium on development permits until that process completes.1. Colo. Oil & Gas Conservation Comm'n v. Martinez, 2019 CO 3, ¶ 41 (interpreting C.R.S. § 34-60-102, and holding that the pre-SB 19-181 version of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act demonstrates that the people of Colorado—through the State’s legislative body—had decided that it is in the public interest to foster the development of oil and gas resources).2. E.g., City of Longmont v. Colo. Oil & Gas Ass'n, 2016 CO 29, ¶ 54 (holding that the operational effect of a home-rule city’s ban on hydraulic fracturing materially impeded application of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act and its implementing regulations, and thus state law preempted the ban).3.
And the Colorado Supreme Court recently held that the people of Colorado—through the State’s legislative body—have decided that it is in the public interest to foster the development of oil and gas resources. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Comm'n v. Martinez, 2019 CO 3, ¶ 41 (interpreting C.R.S. § 34-60-102). So Colorado—like most other oil and gas producing states—has a law that allows for the “pooling” (i.e., combining) of separate ownership interests within a spacing unit for a well (e.g., 640 acres or 1,280 acres or more for horizontal wells) in furtherance of oil and gas production.
The Commission was also addressing the activists’ concerns in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. While a Colorado district court affirmed the Commission’s decision, a panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s order in a split decision based on Commission’s construction of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act.The Decision On January 14, 2019, the Colorado Supreme Court announced its decision in Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission v. Martinez, 2019 CO 3, unanimously reversing the decision of the Court of Appeals, thereby affirming the Commission’s rejection of the proposed rule. The Supreme Court relied primarily on the language of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act, C.R.S. §34-60-101 et seq., which directs the Commission to foster the development of oil and gas resources, protecting and enforcing the rights of owners and producers, and in doing so, to prevent and mitigate significant adverse environmental impacts to the extent necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare - but only after taking into consideration cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility.