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Regulatory commission changes name from ‘Oil & Gas’ to ‘Energy & Carbon Management’

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(The Center Square) – Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will now be known as the Energy and Carbon Management Commission within the Department of Natural Resources.

SB23-285, signed into law by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in May, included the name change, effective July 1. The bill was sponsored by Sens. Kevin Priola, D-Boulder, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Reps. Karen McCormick, D-Longmont, and Ruby Dickson, D-Greenwood Village.

The first two years of commission costs will include hiring technical experts, including three engineers. Lawmakers also appropriated funds for conducting four studies, including a $175,000 geothermal study. Costs also covered will be rule making, community outreach and engagement ($50,000 annually), agency coordination, creation of databases and forms, rebranding the commission ($25,000) and updating the commission’s website ($100,000). Stakeholder engagement and rule making are expected to take approximately two years, according to the fiscal note.

The legislation expanded the commission’s authority to include the regulation of energy and carbon management areas beyond oil and gas. Emerging energy generation and storage technologies, including deep geothermal and underground gas storage, will also fall under its watch.

Previously, geothermal wells were regulated by the Division of Water Resources in the Department of Natural Resources. The legislation gives the renamed commission authority to regulate shallow and deep geothermal operations, including property rights, permitting authority and requirements, fees and management districts.

The bill’s fiscal note stated expenditures in the Department of Natural Resources will increase approximately $1.3 million in fiscal year 2024, $1 million in fiscal year 2025 and lesser amounts in future fiscal years. The account providing the money also was renamed the Energy and Carbon Management Cash Fund.

“This Agency will continue to protectively regulate oil and gas, and will expand its responsibilities by using its talents to usher in regulatory pathways for emerging energy technologies in the areas of carbon capture and sequestration, deep geothermal, and underground natural gas storage,” Commission Chair Jeff Robbins and Director Julie Murphy said in a statement. “The ongoing experience and expertise of the staff as the former COGCC, will continue to guide the organization with some additional staff expertise to accommodate the new areas of emerging energy technologies.”

Commission and staff members can still be reached through the emails and phone numbers from the previously named organization. The commission’s new website will be ecmc.state.co.us and its Twitter account will be @ColoradoECMC.

In 2019, lawmakers changed the COGCC’s mission to prioritize “public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources” rather than foster natural resource development.

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