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Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Comm'n

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20046
Nos. 16CA0564, (Colo. Ct. App., 03/23/2017)

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled against the state Oil and Gas Commission's narrow interpretation of its authority to readjust the balance of state oil and gas conservation regulations between the development of oil and gas resources and protection of public health, safety, and welfare. In November 2013, a petition for rulemaking was introduced requesting that the Commission not issue permits for drilling unless it can prove the practices do not harm human health or the environment. The Commission denied the petition, stating that the request was beyond its limited statutory authority. A district court, relying on Chevron, sided with the Commission, concluding that the Commission rationally decided to deny the petition. The appeals court held that the district court erred in its interpretation of the state oil and gas act, stating that it is not only within the Commission's authority to readjust the balance of development versus safety and welfare, it is its duty. The case was remanded to the district court to return the petition to the Commission for further proceedings.