Energy development task force to meet in Rifle

A task force established in a compromise to strip energy development initiatives from the general election ballot is scheduled to meet in Rifle.

The meeting is set for Dec. 10 and 11 at the Farm Fresh Event Center.

While details of the Rifle meeting weren’t available at press time, it’s expected the task force will take public comment on Dec. 11.

Two previous Western Slope meetings had been cancelled by the task force, which has already held meetings in Denver, Durango and Loveland.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper created the task force to address land use conflicts related to energy development as an alternative to what was shaping up as a fierce election battle.

Two proposed ballot measures would have bolstered local control over energy development. Two counter measures would have withheld state oil and gas revenues from communities banning drilling and required a fiscal impact note to all initiatives. Backers agreed to drop the measures as a result of the compromise.

The task force will look at oil and natural gas regulations in the state, particularly at issues that drove environmentalist groups to prepare the ballot measures — granting local communities the rights to further regulate and restrict oil and gas development, bans on development and such practices such as hydraulic fracturing and the possibility of increasing the required setback for oil and gas drilling and production operations from buildings.

The 18-member task force includes representatives from the energy and agricultural industries as well as conservation groups, local governments and civic leaders.

The task force is expected to make recommendations to the Colorado Legislature by Feb. 27.