Jeff Robbins, GOCCC

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Jeff Robbins speaks to reporters about a proposed $18.25 million penalty against the oil and gas producers behind an April 2017 home explosion in Firestone at a press conference on March 12, 2020.

Tension between regulators and Colorado's oil and gas companies likely wasn't improved by an insulting email mistakenly sent to hundreds of industry officials, CBS4 Denver reported Tuesday night.

Reporter Shaun Boyd learned the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was testing a new e-filing system when employees sent a test message referring to a fictional Colorado company as Snake Oil Inc. represented by the law firm Blah Blah Blah in the case numbered 666, the numerical symbol of the Antichrist.

Other fictional operators on the list, according to Boyd, included Acme Company, likely a play on Acme Corp., the brand made famous by the Wile E. Coyote in the "Roadrunner" cartoons; Bad Oil and Gas; and Really Rich.

The gag was immature at best and showed signs of inherent bias by the regulatory agency at worst. Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate have imposed new regulatory measures, with new rules under consideration.

Chelsie Miera, the executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, told the TV station the joke was in poor taste, explaining "I expect more from my 2- and 4-year-old."

She said the "horrible comments" reflected on the Coloradans who depend on the oil-and-gas industry for the livelihoods.

“This unfortunately just really highlights the level of bias that we are dealing with," she told Boyd. "These are the staff that deal with our permit applications. They’re also ones who go out and do our inspections and issue corrective actions. They’re the ones who help draft these regulations that we’re going through."

The regulatory commission apologized and said the jokesters on staff "have had this addressed by their supervisors" and referred to as an "unfortunate incident" that "does not reflect upon the quality of work" by the regulatory agency.

Boyd reported that the governor's office initially declined to comment, but after he story aired, provided a statement attributed to the governor:

“This is completely unacceptable. Whether you agree with everything the oil and gas industry does or not, in Colorado we treat everyone with honor, respect and professionalism. I have confidence in Chair (Jeff) Robbins and director (Julie) Murphy’s leadership and know that they will be taking this opportunity to make sure all employees at COGCC understand their responsibility to the oil and gas industry and its workers.”

Watch Boyd's entire story by clicking here.

Polis is fighting a perception that he opposes oil and gas, as his first campaign pledge entering the race for governor in 2015 was to move the state to 100% renewable energy.

Democrats in the 2019 legislative session pushed through more than a dozen bills aimed at climate change, renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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