Report evaluates Colorado’s environmental permitting process

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The Competitive Enterprise Institute today released a new report examining environmental permitting in Colorado, the latest in a series of reports on this topic.

“Colorado has reformed its regulatory processes over the past decade to help businesses and citizens obtain environmental permits to do what kinds of things,” said James Broughel, CEI senior fellow and author of the report. “But Colorado’s permitting process remains too costly and snarled in red tape, needlessly delaying and preventing economic opportunities and infrastructure improvement in the state.”

“Unfortunately, the state appears to be moving in the wrong direction with recent changes targeting the oil and gas industry and making the permitting process more burdensome,” said Broughel. Specifically, a 2019 law redirected agency focus away from encouraging responsible energy development and toward regulation.

The report suggests reforms state lawmakers should make:

  • Water permits – Lawmakers should shorten water permitting timeframes, clarify agency roles, and establish firm deadlines for regulator permit decisions.
  • Federal coordination – The state should work with federal regulators and establish a permit review team to coordinate with federal regulators and laws.
  • MOUs – State agencies should expand use of memoranda of understanding between governments and agencies to coordinate regulatory and permitting processes.
  • Lean – Lawmakers should expand the state’s use of a management system called “Lean” aimed at instilling an agency culture that seeks continuous improvement.
  • Environmental justice – The state should reevaluate its approach to environmental justice considerations in oil and gas permitting. There are currently too many veto points for energy developments.
  • Record keeping – Policymakers should catalog every permit requirement, procedural step, responsible agency, and review timeframe to understand the big picture. Building on existing ePermitting efforts through online permit tracking tools could increase transparency and highlight areas of overlap, bottlenecks, and quick fixes. That kind of mapping process has already proved valuable in other states.

View the report on Colorado environmental permitting reform, Distilling Efficiency: Colorado’s quest to refine its permitting process, by James Broughel.