Chase v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 12012COA94 (June 7, 2012)

Designated Outdoor Activity Area (DOAA) could describe nearly all of Colorado.  So could “oil and gas bonanza.”  This case chronicles the struggle of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to balance its power to locate well sites on private property while protecting the landowner’s property.  After examining COGCC’s authority, the case turned on the interpretation of one ambiguous rule: to be a DOAA (and there are no oil wells in a DOAA), the area must be “occupied” by at least twenty people for forty days or more.  A playground is a DOAA.  To be consistent with other rules, the court held that all twenty people need not be present at any one time. It remanded so COGCC could make appropriate findings of fact in deciding the landowner’s request for the designation. But, the COGCC can also consider if the designation would be economically wasteful.


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