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When Colorado Democratic Governor Jared Polis approved Senate Bill 181, this new law significantly redirected the historical focus of Colorado oil and gas regulation. This provided a significant delegation of land use related authority to local government for the first time since the passage of this Act in 1951. This new law moved away from the traditional notion of statewide regulation based upon exclusive jurisdiction by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (“COGCC”). While this change of legislative focus is significant, this latest direction is probably a natural continuation of a general trend that has been emerging in Colorado since certain Supreme Court Opinions were announced in 1992, as explained later in this Article. As the State of Colorado has, among other things, grown in population, residential housing now significantly finds itself competing with oil and gas development in the same geographical areas, especially the suburbs of the “Front Range.” Simultaneously, the political sentiment of Colorado has trended into a more significantly Democratic direction from a historically Republican majority. The law as to the governance of the oil and gas industry has now changed as a result of the passing of SB 181—from fostering the development of oil and gas industry to a new paradigm requiring the weighing of interests, including environmental concerns. This Article provides a historic explanation to allow the reader to better understand how this transition has come about. That which is observed in Colorado might also be seen as a potential harbinger of future change that could be noted in other oil and gas states.



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