This Casenote asserts that the Colorado Supreme Court's decision in COGCC v. GVCA, while legally adequate, condones a harmful public policy that necessitates legislative correction. The case pitted two landowners whose property was adjacent to a proposed well that would drill down within a three-mile radius of an underground nuclear detonation site known as the Rulison blast zone, as well as a citizens'group from the Rulison area, against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). Using different canons of statutory interpretation, the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court reached opposite decisions, but in the end a COGCC rule permitting only surface owners, local governments, and oil and gas operators to request hearings on COGCC permitting decisions was upheld. Thus, the petitioners were denied standing until and unless they actually suffer harm from released radiation. In upholding the COGCC's narrow standing rule, the Colorado Supreme Court pointed to several other ostensible means through which the aggrieved parties could be heard, such as filing a complaint with the COGCC, appealing to their local government designee to request a hearing, or litigating in court. This Casenote first explores the history of the site, the COGCC's regulatory scheme, and the judicial progression from the filing of the complaint to the Colorado Supreme Court's decision. It then explores each of the potential alternate avenues proposed by the Colorado Supreme Court, and attempts to demonstrate why each is insufficient to protect landowners who are legitimately aggrieved by COGCC permitting decisions in which the surface of the well is not located directly on their land. Finally, it explores the possible solution of the legislature applying a form of the Colorado APA's "aggrieved party" standard-which has thus far been administratively and judicially eliminated from the realm of oil and gas drill-permitting decisions-to all COGCC decisions, including those relating to drill-permit approval
Won't You Be My Neighbor? The Fallout from the Colorado Supreme Court's Decision in COGCC v. GVCA,
U. Colo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/lawreview/vol85/iss3/7