DENVER -- The task-force set up to find a solution on local control issues related to oil and gas drilling -- and, in the short term, to avoid a risky and expensive campaign fight over two anti-industry ballot measures -- met for the first time Thursday.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Democrat who brokered the agreement that created the 21-member panel, urged the group to be open to opposing points of view and to try hard to reach a compromise.
"Issues around oil and gas drilling are really complex. You're going to have to be fair and productive and really focused," Hickenlooper said, while noting the strain between many of the homeowners that sought to severely limit drilling under the initiatives and an industry that viewed them as an existential threat.
"Despite the differences, and I know there's difficult negotiating ahead of you and a lot of difficult history, I think you guys can do it."
The panel, which includes government officials, civic leaders and representatives of the energy industry, will meet several times during the coming months and issue suggestions to lawmakers by next March on how to resolve property disputes and public health concerns arising from oil and gas drilling near homes and schools.