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From this story on the Denver Post:
_Gov. Bill Ritter and energy companies on Tuesday unveiled deals aimed at minimizing harm to wildlife from oil and gas drilling across 554 square miles of western Colorado. The deals negotiated over the past 18 months will allow the state to streamline the permitting process for companies that choose to take wildlife protection into consideration before drilling begins. State regulators said that by consulting with wildlife officials on how to prevent or mitigate harm, oil and gas operators can secure approval for thousands of wells more quickly. Among the beneficiaries: Exxon Mobil Corp., Encana Oil & Gas, Williams Production, Marathon Oil Co., Noble Energy Inc. and Black Hills Exploration & Production.

__Colorado’s 10 signed deals are the result of good working relationships between land managers and companies aiming for “a viable drilling program that, at the same time, protects habitat and minimizes impacts,” Encana spokesman Doug Hock said. Wildlife advocates said that, while they would prefer greater protection, they welcome efforts to prevent landscape-wide degradation. “We’re glad that wildlife mitigation plans have been negotiated. We’re hopeful they will minimize adverse impacts on wildlife,” said Suzanne O’Neill, executive director of the Colorado Wildlife Federation.

Colorado’s approach “creates an additional level of protection that federal policies aren’t giving us,” National Wildlife Federation regional representative John Gale said. Ritter announced the deals at the Capitol, lashing out at critics who see Colorado’s regulatory system as onerous. Republican gubernatorial candidates have said they may roll back state rules. “All the time they were politicizing it, we were working with industry to get to today,” Ritter said. Rolling back regulations “would be a bad idea,” he said, though “tweaking” may make sense.

In its deal with the energy companies, Colorado will grant permission to drill wells as densely as one every 10 acres in return for advance planning to protect deer, elk, bears, raptors, bobcats and grouse in designated wildlife areas._

Your thoughts? Should oil and gas companies have been doing that already, at least on public lands?

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