Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission director Matt Lepore to resign

Posted at 10:44 AM, Feb 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-20 12:44:27-05

DENVER – The director of the Colorado agency tasked with regulating the state’s oil and gas industry will resign at the beginning of March to take a job with a private energy consulting firm.

Matt Lepore, who had led the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission since his appointment in August 2012, will resign effective March 2.

Gov. John Hickenlooper credited Lepore with performing “one of the most demanding jobs in state government” with “style and substance that provided calm over an area often at the center of controversy.”

Lepore has overseen the agency in a tumultuous time. The agency has been caught in between battles between oil and gas companies, environmentalists, lawmakers and community members over oil and gas development across the state.

After a series of explosions involving various industry infrastructure last year, Lepore has been in charge of a vast effort to map flow lines statewide and push the distance between which new homes, schools and businesses can be built from old oil and gas infrastructure.

Part of that effort includes mapping, disconnecting, sealing or removing old flow lines. The COGCC also in recent weeks raised taxes on energy developers to help pay for what local government officials and environmentalists said was the environmental impact of oil and gas drilling. Part of that is also meant to address a multi-million-dollar budget shortfall, but the energy industry balked at the new tax.

The COGCC is also still involved in an ongoing lawsuit originally brought by a group of Colorado teens and environmental groups regarding environmental rules and the commission’s authority, which will be reviewed by the Colorado Supreme Court.

But Colorado officials praised Lepore Tuesday for what they said was his focus on transparency and environmental issues during his time as director.

“Matt always put safeguarding public safety and the environment first,” Hickenlooper said. “Under his leadership, Colorado developed regulations that have been used as models across the country.”

“Colorado and [the Colorado Department of Natural Resources] have benefitted from his dedication and perseverance in developing one of country’s strongest regulatory approaches to oil and gas development,” said DNR executive director Bob Randall.

Randall has appointed Julie Murphy to be the new director of COGCC. She is currently the assistant director for energy and minerals at DNR, where she works on policy, technical and legal issues relating to oil and gas and mining. She has previously worked with the COGCC as the hearings and regulatory affairs manager and as an assistant attorney general for the commission’s division of reclamation, mining and safety.

“Julie brings a steady hand to the agency helm,” said COGCC’s board chairman John Benton. “Her experience, intellect and equable nature will serve her - and our state - well. We’re fortunate to have someone of Julie’s capability and competency ready to step into this role and oversee the responsible and balanced development of Colorado’s oil and gas resources.”

Lepore will be joining private energy company Adamantine Energy.

“Leading this agency has been the professional privilege and challenge of a lifetime,” Lepore said. “We benefit from the participation of so many outstanding citizens, industry representatives and COGCC staff and commissioners, working together in good faith through the inherently difficult issues that can arise in balancing increasing energy production within a growing state. We have made it a priority to engage with a broad range of stakeholders to forge durable regulatory solutions.  The resulting regulations have often been held up as national and even international examples of effective oil and gas regulation.”