SMART Act Presentation from Department of Natural Resources
COMMITTEE ON JOINT AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
02:21 PM -- SMART Act Presentation from Department of Natural Resources
Bob Randall, Executive Director, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), introduced himself to the committee and provided a brief overview of DNR. Committee received the department's FY 2017-18 Performance Plan (Attachment D). Mr. Randall described challenges that DNR is currently facing, including rapid population growth, a decrease in Severance Tax funding, federal partnerships and funding, and environmental trends.
Bill Levine, Budget Director, DNR, introduced himself to the committee, and gave the committee an update on the Severance Tax Operational Fund. Mr. Levine stated that year to date Severance Tax revenue is at $18 million, a great shortfall from earlier projections. Additionally, he stated that the revenue stream from severance tax has been permanently depleted and the Operational Fund is projected to run out of money at the end of FY 2017-18. Mr. Levine stated that programs funded through the Severance Tax Operational Fund are in danger of not being funded at all. Moreover, Tier II programs are not being funded this year or in the foreseeable future.
Mr. Levine discussed a recent rule change by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) raising the current mill levy for oil and gas production. Mr. Levine explained that the COGCC is currently spending more than the mill levy is bringing in, and an increase in the mill levy will offset that spending. Mr. Levine responded to questions from the committee regarding the disparities in forecasts of Severance Tax Revenue. Mr. Levine responded to further questions regarding the revenue collected by the proposed mill levy, specifically how a raise in the mill levy would be affected by TABOR.
Tobin Follenweider, Cheif Operating Officer, DNR, introduced himself to the committee and discussed the Performance Plan for DNR.
Bob Broscheid, Executive Director, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), introduced himself to the committee and discussed CPW. He stated that the majority of funding for CPW comes from hunting and fishing licenses. Mr. Broscheid discussed CPW's desired trend of stream miles and lake acreage occupied by the Greenback Cutthroat Trout and explained that CPW's goal is to recover that species and "delist" it as an endangered species. He also discussed the number of interceptions of watercraft containing aquatic nuisance species and key figures representing access of sate parks. He stated that with the introduction of CPW's new licensing system, the number of people purchasing hunting and fishing licenses will be easier to report. Mr. Broscheid responded to questions from the committee regarding the performance audit of CPW and GOCO. He also responded to questions regarding the updated hunting and fishing licensing system.
Matt Lepore, Executive Director, COGCC, introduced himself to the committee and discussed the primary process of the COGCC. He discussed a recently developed online tool that provides information about all oil and gas wells and improved processes for issuing complaints. He also discussed funding that would be generated from the proposed mill levy increase. The major funding sources for the COGCC are severance tax revenue and the mil levy assessed on the value of oil and gas production. Mr. Leopre discussed the inspection process of COGCC and the process for inspections of high-priority wells inspected each year. Mr. Leopre responded to questions from the committee regarding the logging of complaints, specifically nuisance complaints. He also responded to to questions from the committee regarding the recent capping of Crestone Peak well in Aspen, which occurred near the property line of a school. Mr. Lepore responded to questions from the committee regarding the close proximity of oil and gas wells to school property.
Mr. Leopre continued to respond to questions from the committee regarding resources used on false oil and gas complaints. Mr Levine responded to questions from the committee regarding tax credits being paid to oil and gas companies as a result of the decision in BP vs. Department of Revenue.
Rebecca Mitchell, Executive Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), introduced herself to the committee and gave a rief overview of CWCB. She also stated that CWCB recently released a two-year progress report of the implementation of the Colorado Water Plan, which can be found here: https://cwcb.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=b588bcb8451d4ae1bccabde5a05a8952. Ms. Mitchell discussed the annual water conservation projects bill, which is annually introduced. She also discussed the species conservation trust fund and critical strategies and activities of the CWCB. Ms. Mitchell responded to questions from the committee.
Kevin Rein, State Engineer, Division of Water Resources (DWR), introduced himself to the committee and gave the committee and overview of DWR. Mr. Rein described the DWR's major programs, including compact enforcement, dam safety, and the administration of water rights. Mr. Rein discussed the funding of DWR.
Bill Ryan, Director, State Board of Land Commissioners (State Land Board), introduced himself to the committee and provided the committee and overview of the board. He discussed the mission of the State Land Board, mainly the goal of providing funding for K-12 education. He discussed the board's strategic initiatives and revenue streams for the board. Mr. Ryan responded to questions from the committee regarding the distribution of funds generated by the board to K-12 education. Mr. Ryan discussed multiple leases on State Land Board owned properties and management plans for lease agreements. He also responded to questions from the committee regarding a potential pilot project involving using SLB land for small cabins. Mr. Ryan responded to questions from the committee regarding the performance audit of the SLB. Mr. Ryan responded to questions from the committee regarding hunting access on SLB lands and private leases on SLB lands.
Mr. Ryan responded to questions from the committee regarding the distribution of funding generated by SLB leases.
Ginny Brannon, Director, Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety (DRMS), introduced herself to the committee and provided the committee with an overview of the program. She discussed how the shortfall of severance tax revenue and how that affects programs within DRMS. Ms. Brannon also discussed the DMRS Mineral Regulatory Program and the strategy of DRMS to increase the number of high priority inspections. She stated that DMRS is evolving the inspection policy in order to conduct more inspections. Ms. Brannon discussed the Inactive Mine Reclamation Program and explained the accomplishments of the program. She discussed legislative priorities of DRMS, including creating limited impact permits for mineral mining. Ms. Brannon responded to questions from the committee.