In a unanimous decision, members of the Colorado Supreme Court have reversed an earlier State Court of Appeals ruling ordering that state regulators must factor in health and environmental concerns when it comes to permitting new wells.
The decision is regarded as a major victory for oil and gas producers in Colorado.
In a statement, Dan Haley, chief executive officer of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the ruling will pave the way for the continued development of oil and gas wells in the state, “while also protecting our environment.”
The litigation centered on a move to force the regulatory Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to apply a series of environmental and health protection requirements when considering permits for new projects.
In their ruling, the justices of the state’s highest court said current Colorado law does not “allow it to condition all new oil and gas development on a finding of no cumulative adverse impacts to public health and the environment.”
That ruling comes just days after new Governor Jared Polis, in his first State of the State address, said he wants to push Colorado in the direction of “being a leader in the growing green energy economy.”
In his gubernatorial campaign last fall, Polis said his goal, if elected, would be to have Colorado achieve 100 percent renewable energy status by the year 2040.
In his State of the State speech, Polis said that goal is not confined to just climate change: “It’s also about saving money for consumers with cheaper energy, it’s about making sure that good-paying green jobs of the future are created right here in Colorado.”
Pursuit of the 100 percent goal, said the Governor, “means modernizing both our grid infrastructure and streamlining our regulatory process to ensure that all Coloradans are able to reap the full suite of benefits associated with swift adoption of renewable energy.”
Polis’ 100 percent renewable energy 2040 goal is now the most ambitious in the country, surpassing both California and Hawaii, which have pledged to go there by 2045.
In a statement issued after the Supreme Court ruling, Polis remarked: “While I’m disappointed by today’s ruling, it only highlights the need to work with the Legislature and the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to more safely develop our state’s natural resources and protect our citizens from harm.”
By Garry Boulard