RIFLE — Matt Lepore, the new Executive Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, spoke to the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board late last week and offfered some relevant comments, including the observation that his organization has a split personality of sorts. Here is John Colson’s report in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:
“Our mission is very clearly a dual mission,” he said. On the one hand, the COGCC was created to promote the development of oil and gas.
But the COGCC also was created “to protect public health, safety and the environment,” said Lepore, who was appointed last month to replace former COGCC director Dave Neslin.
“Those things have to be done in balance,” he said, speaking both to the EAB members and to an audience of about 40 people, a mixture of COGCC staffers, industry personnel and citizens hoping to learn about Lepore’s plans for the commission.
With a background as an environmental lawyer, Lepore said, he hopes to engage in an “honest, frank and civilized conversation” with oil and gas industry boosters, critics and those who have no fixed opinions either way.
An example of his plans, he said, is to continue a program of baseline water quality sampling in areas where the industry is active, to determine existing levels of pollutants as a way of gauging the effects of industry activities in the future.
He said the program is voluntary so far, and claimed a participation rate of 90 percent among oil and gas operators around Colorado. But he hopes to make it “more mandatory” to ensure that all operators are involved.
He lauded Garfield County for embarking with Colorado State University on a $1.8 million air quality study, which is expected to get under way early next year. MORE …