Leaders of Colorado’s energy industry are warning that a recent appeals court decision in favor of anti-oil and gas activists could undermine one of the state’s most important economic sectors.

The case was brought by activists, who had demanded that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) suspend issuing permits for oil and natural gas projects unless it could be demonstrated that drilling “does not adversely impact human health and does not contribute to climate change.” The Court of Appeals ruled in their favor in a March 23 decision. The COGCC disagrees with the decision and is considering appealing the decision to the state supreme court, according to spokesperson Todd Hartman.

On a conference call with reporters this morning, Colorado Petroleum Council (CPC) Executive Director Tracee Bentley said she was “disappointed” with the “sweeping decision [that] imperils jobs, incomes, and development of natural resources in our state.” CPC, along with its parent organization the American Petroleum Institute, had intervened in the case.

“The Colorado oil and natural gas industry’s long record of environmental stewardship belies the need for additional onerous rules and restrictions,” Bentley continued. “When it comes to responsible energy development, Colorado has a record to be proud of.”

Bentley explained that imposing more regulations on the oil and natural gas industry would come with “major economic risks,” as the industry supports more than 200,000 jobs in Colorado, and provided over $26 billion in economic activity and $1.6 billion in revenues to the state in 2012.

Bentley’s comments follow Colorado Oil and Gas Association President and Chief Executive Dan Haley’s calls for the COGCC to appeal the decision. In a statement published in Fox 31 Denver last week, Haley said the agency had long balanced oil and natural gas development in the state with environmental protection.

“It’s clear the COGCC has employed this balancing act on numerous occasions as evidenced by Colorado’s comprehensive regulations, which are among the most stringent in that nation,” Haley said. “Coloradans can see for themselves that protection of our environment is a key pillar in existing statute. We encourage the COGCC to appeal this decision to the Colorado Supreme Court.”

Dave Neslin, former director of the COGCC, told the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel it was “ironic that the decision suggests the agency has not been sufficiently protective of the environment.” “The many hundreds of pages of regulations, policies, and guidance that the agency has issued during the past decade tangibly demonstrate the importance that it has placed on environmental protection,” he said.

“The Commission has consistently recognized its duty to balance health and environmental concerns with the promotion of oil and gas development,” Judge Laurie Booras wrote in the dissenting opinion.