Arapahoe County took right path on gas, oil

By John Brackney


We should all pause for a moment to recognize the effective and collaborative efforts of the Arapahoe County government.

Except in times of crisis, government, citizens and businesses can often be adversarial when trying to solve contentious issues. For the last year and a half, Arapahoe County commissioners have brought together all stakeholders to find a reasonable path for oil and gas development in the county.

Faced with the highly politicized task of creating standards for oil and gas development in Arapahoe County, the county struck a path that while not highly publicized has proven to be the most effective process Colorado has seen thus far. The Board of County Commissioners avoided emotional reactions like moratoriums and instead convened meetings of industry representatives, citizens, experts and the state rule-making authority, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).

The result was a unanimously approved memorandum of understanding (MOU) that sets high standards for oil and gas operators beyond the rigorous, comprehensive regulations already in place at the state level.

The MOU that the Arapahoe County Commissioners approved on April 30 is one that ensures our long-term prosperity. It respects private-property rights, encourages economic development, is mindful of the environment and protects our community's health.

While other communities implement pre-emptive regulations and even outright bans that ignore the rights of land and mineral owners and their ability to develop their resources, Arapahoe County's MOU stands as a shining example of what oil and gas development should be in Colorado. It ensures private property rights, protects our state's scenic beauty and limits the impact on public health, all while keeping oil and gas development operations economical enough for mineral owners to develop their resources and realize the returns on the investments they have made.

We believe that this agreement will attract new revenue to our county. Not only will ad valorem and severance taxes go towards our schools, roads, and fire districts, but our communities will grow stronger through the addition of jobs that support the industry. Main street stores will be filled with shoppers.

To ensure Colorado's economic vitality, the South Metro Denver Chamber is leading a delegation of business leaders on a trip to Houston later this month to tell some of the country's largest oil and gas companies that Colorado and Arapahoe County are open for business. Should they do business in our state, they will have to adhere to strict environmental and health standards, but due to the efforts of our state and local elected officials and the input of our citizens and business community, we have created a clear and consistent framework of regulations for them to operate under.

Businesses value consistent regulatory environments, and Arapahoe County is leading the way in Colorado to reassure the industry that there will be no surprises and we will not run them out of town.

Our success both today and into the future depends on balance, something we need to see more of as Colorado determines how best to utilize natural resources like oil and gas. The South Metro Denver Chamber and the more than 1,300 businesses we represent commend Arapahoe County for their efforts to balance the environmental and economic needs of our community.

We congratulate the county for their leadership and we urge other communities to recognize the benefits of working together to find rational solutions to complex and contentious issues.

John Brackney is the president and CEO of the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce


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