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Oil and gas hearing postponed following reform bill approval

The Crestone Comprehensive Development Plan would have been heard by the commission in the April hearing, which has been postponed until sometime in May.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Editor's note: An earlier version of this article misidentified the agency postponing the COGCC hearing. The article has since been updated.

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has postponed its April hearing until all new rules resulting from the passage of Senate Bill 2019-181 in the Legislature are finalized.

Included in the April hearing was the proposed Denver-based Crestone Peak Resources's project, which involves drilling wells near County Line Road and State Highway 52

The COGCC, a government organization charged with "fostering the responsible development of Colorado's oil and gas natural resources," may undergo changes to the make up of the commission due to the passing of SB 181. 

An update on the COGCC website states: "Today the Senate passed SB 181. SB 181 will become law once signed by the Governor, which we expect to happen soon. When SB 181 is signed into law the Commission itself will be reformed. To allow the Governor and his team time to conduct an evaluation of SB 181, the April hearing is postponed until sometime in May. When we have more information about the next hearing we will communicate those details to you. In the meantime, we appreciate your understanding as we work through these details." 

RELATED: Colorado lawmakers OK'd new oil and gas regulations. What's next?

SB-181 passed the state Senate early Wednesday after clearing the state House in March and now sits on Gov. Jared Polis' desk for signing. He has expressed support for the bill when it was first announced and has given no indication he has concerns about the current legislation.

In one of the bill's larger changes to the industry, the importance of oil and gas production and public health would no longer be on equal ground: The environment, wildlife and public health would take precedence over oil and gas production.

COGCC is currently the only regulatory body in the state that would have any say over where new pipelines, wells and drill sites are allowed to be. 

SB-181 gives local government increased control over oil and gas development in Colorado.

Polis has not yet signed the bill, but he is expected to do so any day now.

> Click/tap here for the latest on what the bill would change and where it currently stands.

The Crestone Comprehensive Development Plan would have been heard by the commission, but due to potential changes in the makeup of the commission, COGCC officials have postponed the hearing until all the new rules are finalized.

A planned April 9 public comment session has also been canceled. More details are expected on the rescheduled hearing "as soon as the information is available."

Boulder County officials have long been against the project - a press release from the county in November of last year outlines why the county thinks the Crestone project should be scrapped. In September of last year, Boulder County sued both Crestone Peak Resources and 9 North LLC.

The county's chief complaint was that the companies had applied for drilling permits in areas "that [are] either county-owned open space or protected by county conservation easements."

Crestone - according to the county - applied for drilling permits from the COGCC after the county filed their lawsuit against them. 

The back-and-forth between Crestone and the county spilled into 2019. After the COGCC offered to hear Crestone's permit requests in December 2018, a district judge in Boulder County tossed out 23 of the 27 claims made by officials against the company - allowing four to continue forward. It is not clear, with the recent potential changes to the COGCC and drilling in the state, if the lawsuit will continue.

9NEWS anchor Kyle Clark contributed to this report.

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