Oil and Gas Leasing

Making Sure Wildlife are Protected in Colorado’s Energy Future

Recording from our July 8, 2020 webinar on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

We are in a unique position at this moment in time to help determine the future for Colorado’s wildlife and our outdoor heritage. Please lend your voice!

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the state board that approves drilling permits and regulates the oil and gas industry, is undergoing important changes that will impact Colorado’s wildlife.

The COGCC was previously directed to “foster” development of the state’s oil and gas resources and to balance energy development with impacts on public health, the environment, and wildlife. Legislation passed last year (SB 19-181) changed the COGCC’s mission to specify that energy development must be done safely and require that the COGCC protect wildlife from oil and gas impacts when issuing permits.

The details of how this will be done are being considered right now and the COGCC needs to hear from people who care about birds and wildlife.

In this one-hour webinar—organized by Audubon and partner conservation and hunting/angling groups—experts break down what’s happening and provide guidance on how you can make a difference. This is a time-sensitive and important opportunity to ensure a better future for Colorado’s wildlife.

Positive changes being proposed by the COGCC in their draft amendments to its 1200 Series wildlife rules as part of its mission change rulemaking that will result in better permitting decisions, protection of more species and habitats, and long-term protection of wildlife resources.

  • Protect High Priority Habitat.  COGCC has proposed to expand the number of species and habitats that operators must avoid, or that trigger consultation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).  
  • Require operators to develop plans to protect wildlife.  The draft rules would require operators to prepare a wildlife protection plan for all new pads and wildlife mitigation plans for new pads in high priority habitat. 
  • Involve CPW earlier in the process.  The draft rules would call for CPW involvement on an oil and gas development plan, which predates a drilling-pad permit, and which also involves consultation with local governments, state health officials, and others. 
  • Require compensatory mitigation where impacts cannot be avoided.  The draft rules would require operators either to complete compensatory mitigation projects approved by CPW, or to pay a mitigation fee that CPW can use to complete projects on its own. 

Additional important improvements COGCC should make to improve wildlife protection in its rulemaking:

  • Increase protection for certain wildlife species
  • Enhance riparian-area protections
  • Prohibit pad construction in big game migration corridors
  • Ensure compensatory mitigation benefits wildlife
  • Protect biological resources

Ways you can weigh in on behalf of wildlife:

  • Support the improvements already being proposed and ask for additional protections (see additional resources below).
  • By 12 pm MDT on Oct 8, 2020, email comments to the COGCC commissioners at DNR_COGCC.Rulemaking@state.co.us. Be sure to include  “800/900/1200 Series Rulemaking” in the subject line of your email.
    • Important: There are issues with the COGCC’s online Public Comments Portal. If you previously submitted comments using COGCC’s online portal, please resend them via email (see above) to the commissioners. 
  • Encourage others to become engaged, to speak up for wildlife on this important issue.
  • Write a letter to the editor at your local paper. Please let us know so that we can help elevate it with decision-makers!
  • Offer oral comment at the COGCC Commission hearing on October 13, 2020. The COGCC will make an online registration available the week before the hearing on its website (sign-up must be done before noon on October 8).
  • If you'd like to offer oral comments at the COGCC Commission hearing on October 13, 2020, please note that you cannot submit written comments via email (as the COGCC will default to your written comments). The COGCC will make an online registration available the week before the hearing on its website (sign-up must be done before noon on October 8).

Additional Resources:

Photos clockwise from top left: Mule Deer, Tom Koerner/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Golden Eagle, Daniel O'Donnell/Audubon Photography Awards; Oil & Gas Rig, Daly Edmunds/Audubon Rockies; Greater Sage-Grouse, M. Verdon Tomajko/Audubon Photography Awards; Trout, CO Trout Unlimited

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How you can help, right now