Blame the economy or blame the new regulations recently enacted by Governor Bill Ritter, the news is still the same: The approval of oil-and-gas drilling permits dropped last year. Officials approved about 5,100 permits in 2009, down from the record 8,027 issued in 2008 before the recession hit, according to the Associated Press. Energy companies and their supporters have complained that regulations have led to longer processing times for permits, discouraging development in the state, while regulators say they've worked hard to reduce a backlog and improve processing. Meanwhile, an environmental-protection specialist for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is investigating whether a spill at an oil-and-gas well pad has contaminated spring water northwest of Parachute, writes Grand Junction's Daily Sentinel. Recently, ProPublica dug into the subject of wells and the problems they pose, including issuing data about the 11 enforcement staff members who oversee more than 34,000 wells across the state.
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