The Durango Herald | Purple Mountain Politics

La Plata rancher elected to oil and gas leadership post

Hesperus rancher Tom Compton was elected vice chairman of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission this morning.

Compton has served on the nine-person commission since 2007, when the Legislature and Gov. Bill Ritter reorganized it to pay more attention to environmental matters.

The new commission has to reflect a number of interests, and Compton fills several roles as an agriculture producer, royalty rights owner, Republican and Western Slope resident.

His fellow commissioners elected him this morning after elevating Michael Dowling to chairman. Dowling, a founder of the Colorado Conservation Trust, has served on the commission as long as Compton.

Compton generally sided with industry-friendly commissioners during the 2007-08 rewrite of the COGCC’s rules, although the nine commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the final rules package.

The elections of Dowling and Compton keeps up an informal agreement among the commission to divide the chairman and vice-chairman positions between environmental and industry interests.

Current chairman Joshua Epel is leaving the COGCC to serve on the Public Utilities Commission.