David Neslin

David Neslin

Of Counsel

P: 303.892.7401

F: 303.893.1379




Susanne Joslin

P: 303.892.7593

Admitted In

  • Colorado

David Neslin assists clients with energy and environmental matters, including policy issues involving federal, state, and local regulation, administrative proceedings before government agencies, and legal disputes arising under various resource and environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act.

Prior to joining Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP, Mr. Neslin led the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission for four years, where he oversaw record levels of oil and gas permitting, development, and production.  Under his leadership, the COGCC also completed bellwether rulemakings to tackle emerging regulatory issues, including those involving hydraulic fracturing, green completions, and waste management. 

Prior to entering government service, Mr. Neslin was a partner in the Denver office of Arnold & Porter, where his practice centered around permitting and litigation on behalf of major development projects facing complex regulatory requirements and extensive public opposition.  While at Arnold & Porter, he had extensive dealings in the recreation industry, including representation of Vail Resorts in securing federal, state, and local approvals for the largest ski area expansion in Colorado history.  

While with the State, Mr. Neslin served as chair of the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations, which conducts peer reviews of state environmental programs, and as Colorado’s representative to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, which provides leadership on domestic oil and gas issues.  He also assisted the Ground Water Protection Council in developing and promoting the hydraulic fracturing website www.FracFocus.org.

Mr. Neslin has worked with federal and state legislators, regulators, industry representatives, environmental groups and other stakeholders to encourage responsible regulation of energy development, and he frequently writes and speaks on this subject. He has also been listed in the Denver Business Journal’s Who's Who in Energy 2013 - 2015. He also has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of Energy Law and Natural Resources Law and has earned the AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rating™ from Martindale-Hubbell®.


University of Washington, J.D., cum laude, Order of the Coif, 1983
University of Washington, B.A., 1980

Representative Matters

  • Government of Colombia:  Assisting a group of four government agencies in developing new environmental and technical requirements for the exploration and production of unconventional oil and gas.
  • Local regulation issues:  Representing oil and gas operators in connection with efforts by Colorado local governments to regulate development.   
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District: Represented a public utility in obtaining a $40 million judgment against the federal government for failure to timely remove spent nuclear fuel.
  • Telluride Ski Resort: Represented a ski resort in successfully resolving the largest wetlands enforcement action at that time in Colorado.  
  • Loon Mountain Resort: Represented a ski resort in obtaining approval for major expansion and in resolving alleged Clean Water Act violations.
August 2016

Colorado Anti-Oil and Gas Initiatives Move Toward November Ballot

On August 8, 2016, environmental groups and supporters filed their Petition for Verification of Signatures for two oil and gas ballot initiatives with the Secretary of State and claimed to have enough signatures to add the initiatives to the November ballot.

May 2016

Colorado Supreme Court Re-Affirms State Preemption of Local Government Fracking Bans

On Monday, May 2, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court issued decisions in two cases involving local bans on hydraulic fracturing or fracking in City of Longmont v. Colorado Oil and Gas Association, 2016 CO 29, ___ P.3d ___ (Longmont) and City of Fort Collins v. Colorado Oil and Gas Association, 2016 CO 28, ___ P.3d ___ (Fort Collins). 

March 2016

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - Recent Developments Concerning Induced Earthquakes

States are adopting new regulatory requirements to address seismic concerns, and last month the Sierra Club filed a first-of-its-kind RCRA lawsuit over this issue. Please join us for a discussion of these developments.

February 2016

Governor's Task Force Implications

Join us for a discussion of the new COGCC rules to implement Governor's Task Force Recommendations 17 and 20. Topics will include new rules governing the development of large scale facilities in urban mitigation areas, new rules governing the submittal of certain information to municipalities, lessons learned from the rulemaking, and implications for future development in and near urban areas.

January 2016

COGCC Adopts Rules Implementing Task Force Recommendations No. 17 and 20

On January 25, 2016, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ("COGCC" or "Commission") approved rules for coordinating the work of the COGCC with local jurisdictions when large scale oil and gas facilities are proposed near communities and for facilitating municipal planning. These rules stem from Recommendations No. 17 and 20 of Governor Hickenlooper's Oil and Gas Task Force and will become effective 20 days after they are published in the Colorado Register.

August 2015

52 DGS Attorneys Named Best Lawyers®

Fifty-two Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP attorneys were named Best Lawyers® by publisher Woodward/White, Inc. in its annual guide recognizing legal excellence. The 2016 edition of The Best Lawyers in America is based on a peer-review survey in which more than 43,000 attorneys comment on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas. The publication only recognizes the top four percent of attorneys in the country.

Clearing the Waters: EPA Finds No Systemic Impacts to Drinking Water from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities

Clearing the Waters: EPA Finds No Systemic Impacts to Drinking Water from Hydraulic Fracturing Activities

On June 4, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft study report entitled Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources, which analyzes the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water.

March 2015

The Federal Government Joins the Fray: The BLM's Final Hydraulic Fracturing Rules

On March 20, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its final rules for hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands (Final Rules). The Final Rules govern approximately 700 million subsurface acres overseen by the BLM, and they culminate a rulemaking process that began in November 2010.

Viewpoint: Can the oil and gas task force lead Colorado to the pennant?

The Denver Business Journal

It was unrealistic to expect the oil and gas task force to resolve the recent controversy over state and local energy regulation to everyone's satisfaction. After all, this issue has a 30-year history in Colorado and has provoked dustups in other energy-producing states such as New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.


Air Quality Summit

It's hard to deny that air quality regulations are one of the most important government initiatives impacting business and industry today. To help understand what the latest and likely future air quality requirements will look like, we have assembled three panels consisting of some of the leading federal and state regulators, as well as several industry and air quality planning experts, to provide their perspectives.

January 2015

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Adopts Changes to Enforcement and Penalty Rules

On January 5, 2015, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) amended Rules 522 and 523 governing enforcement and penalties. These amendments implement House Bill 14-1356, which the legislature adopted last April.

December 2014

Colombian Environmental and Technical Regulation

Questions & Answers About Fracking forum (Bogota, Columbia)

October 2014

Oil Spilled Is Down Amidst Oil Boom

Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development Newsletter

Coloradans sometimes ask me about the potential environmental harms of oil and gas development, including fracking. With the current oil boom in Colorado, some assume a corresponding increase in oil spilled. In fact, the opposite is true.

June 2014

COGCC Shuts Down Wastewater Injection Site in Response to Small Earthquakes - How This Could Impact Colorado Operators

This past Tuesday – June 24, 2014 – the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) issued a press release, explaining that it had ordered High Sierra Water Services to temporarily cease operating a 10,000 barrel-per-day injection well in Weld County. The COGCC described the order as “a precautionary step” that would enable the agency to analyze whether well operations are tied to recent low-level seismic activity nearby.

May 2014

Hydraulic Fracturing: Recent Trends & Updates

Please join us for this seminar discussing the recent trends and legal updates surrounding hydraulic fracturing. Our guest speaker, Mike Paque, Executive Director of the Ground Water Protection Council, will address the recent report from the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, FracFocus 2.0 Task Force.

The Devil's in the Details: EPA's Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Hydraulic Fracturing Disclosure

On May 9, 2014, the U.S. EPA issued a pre-publication copy of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) requesting public comment on regulatory and voluntary mechanisms for obtaining information on chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing (HF) operations.

April 2014

The Future of Fracking

The Denver Post

March 2014

Enforcement Issues Facing the Oil and Gas Industry

Please join us for two seminars on current enforcement issues affecting oil and gas operators in Colorado. Our first panel, on April 17, will begin by discussing recent changes to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's (COGCC) enforcement program including changes to the notice of alleged violation (NOAV) process and certain new templates, tools, and procedures.

DGS Partners to Speak at the Hispanic National Bar Association Annual Convention

DGS partners Damian Arguello and David Neslin will be speaking at the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) Annual Convention being held September 4-7 in Denver. HNBA is a nonprofit that represents the interests of the more than 100,000 Hispanic legal professionals in the U.S.

Shale Gas Radio Interview

Chinese Radio International

At a time when the world population is growing all the time and energy dependency is one of the biggest headaches facing every government, fracking might be a good way to be less reliant on gas and oil imports from the more volatile parts of the world. But what environmental impacts does fracking have on our planet? 

Listen to the interview.

Nuisance, opportunity in oil and gas development

The Denver Post

Recent press reports on U.S. Rep. Jared Polis contemplating a lawsuit to halt oil and gas development near his farm illustrate several important points. To begin with, this type of development is creating new opportunities for small businesses, like Sundance Energy, which is drilling the well at issue.


AAPL Pooling Seminar

American Association of Professional Landmen Pooling Seminar

Co-presenters: David Neslin and Lamont Larsen

April 2013

Shale Gas Development “Need Not Cost Environment”

viEUws - The EU Policy Broadcaster

Leading environment journalist, Sonja van Renssen, is joined by David Neslin, former director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (the government agency that regulates all oil and gas development in the state of Colorado), to discuss Shale Gas Development.

March 2013

2013 Survey on Oil & Gas

Texas Wesleyan Law Review

During the past year, a number of important judicial decisions and regulatory actions concerning oil and gas development occurred in Colorado. These decisions and actions should be of interest to all persons who are involved in Colorado oil and gas activity.


February 2013

COGCC Issues New Drilling Setback Rules

On Monday, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) gave final approval to new rules which expand the setbacks for oil and gas wells and production facilities and impose new notice, meeting, and mitigation requirements to better protect nearby homes and neighborhoods. The COGCC touts the new rules as "the strongest rules in the country for limiting the impact of drilling near residences and other occupied buildings." These rules will go into effect on August 1, 2013.


Strange Bedfellows - Bicycles and Hydraulic Fracturing

What do bikes and hydraulic fracturing have in common? Prior to this week, the answer was probably very little. On February 4, 2013, however, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously issued an opinion striking down the City of Black Hawk’s ban prohibiting bicycle traffic on certain local streets. 

October 2012

State Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing and Other Environmental Issues Associated With Unconventional Gas Development

U.S. – Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission Energy Working Group Round Table - Energy Law in XXI: Views from the U.S. and Russia

COGCC’s “Setback” Rulemaking Means More Regulation for the Oil and Gas Industry

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has embarked on a significant new rulemaking that promises to have big impacts on oil and gas operations in Colorado. On September 21, 2012, the COGCC rolled out a conceptual outline of potential amendments to the existing COGCC setback rules, and on October 1, the Commission gave the go ahead to begin a rulemaking to amend the setback rules. Proposed rules were published October 15.

Hydraulic Fracturing Litigation: Recent Developments and Current Issues in Cases Involving Alleged Water Supply Impacts

RMMLF Special Institute on The Water-Energy Nexus: Acquisition, Use and disposal of Water for Energy and Mineral Development

Many experts agree that new supplies of natural gas and oil from shale and other unconventional formations have the potential to decrease our energy costs, increase our employment, enhance our national security, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.


DGS Partners Zach Miller and David Neslin to Participate in RMMLF Special Institute

Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP partners David Neslin and Zach Miller will be participating in the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF) Special Institute on The Water-Energy Nexus: Acquisition, Use and Disposal of Water for Energy and Mineral Development.

July 2012

Natural Gas Supports Healthy Job Growth in Colorado

The Daily Sentinel

Colorado is at the forefront of domestic natural gas development and, according to a recent study by IHS Global Insight, the state will benefit from this development with substantial and  sustained job growth. In Colorado, development of unconventional natural gas – including shale, tight sands and coalbed methane – is projected to support more than 126,000 jobs by 2015.


Colorado Supreme Court Decides Grand Valley Citizens' Alliance Case

Yesterday, the Colorado Supreme Court decided Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission v. Grand Valley Citizens' Alliance, No. 10SC532 (Colo. June 25, 2012), which involves the public's right to a hearing before the Commission. In a 6 to 1 decision, the Supreme Court held that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act requires the Commission to hold a hearing in response to a public request only for rules, regulations, or orders. Other hearing requests by the public are governed by the Commission's regulations, which do not entitle the public to hearings on applications for permits to drill (APDs).


June 2012

Ukraine sees Colorado as model for sound gas development

Denver Business Journal

I recently spoke at a shale gas conference in Kiev, Ukraine, about Colorado's experience producing the energy that we need while protecting the environment that we treasure. 


Federal Oversight of Hydraulic Fracturing

CLE International - Hydraulic Fracturing: The Debate Continues

May 2012

EPA Issues Permitting Guidance on Hydraulic Fracturing Activities Using Diesel

On the same day that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its proposed rules governing hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and Indian land (read the DGS Alert), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft of its long-awaited “Permitting Guidance for Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing Activities Using Diesel Fuels.”  The guidance is intended to aid in the permitting of oil and gas hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels under the Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) Underground Injection Control Program (UIC) where EPA is the permitting authority – including, importantly, in Pennsylvania and New York.  The guidance, however, suggests that it also would prove useful to state UIC permit writers.  It also notes that some states may seek to revise their current UIC program to follow the guidance.


BLM Issues Proposed Rules Regulating Hydraulic Fracturing

Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its much anticipated proposed rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing on public and Indian land. The rule, which has been delayed for the past several months as the Bureau conducted tribal consultations and made last minute changes, imposes three major categories of new requirements on hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells on public and Indian land: (1) disclosure requirements; (2) standards related to well-bore integrity; and (3) obligations related to flowback and other water management plans.


DGS Partner Dave Neslin to Speak at Global Workshop on Shale Gas Development

Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP partner David Neslin will speak at a two-day regional workshop on shale gas exploration and extraction presented by the Civilian Research & Development Foundation (CRDF). The workshop, taking place in Kiev, Ukraine on May 24-25, 2012, will help identify key issues to address as the region looks to encourage production on unconventional gas and set a road map for addressing them.


DGS Partners Dave Neslin and Gail Wurtzler to Speak at CHWMS Workshop

Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP partners David Neslin and Gail L. Wurtzler will be speaking at the Colorado Hazardous Waste Management Society (CHWMS) Workshop on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, which will be held at Geotech Environmental in Denver, Colorado. DGS associate Radcliffe Dann IV is on the planning committee for the half‐day event, which will feature an overview and discussion of important issues and developments with respect to hydraulic fracturing. The agenda will focus on baseline sampling programs, regulatory and litigation updates, and current governmental studies related to the impacts of hydraulic fracturing.


March 2012

Guest Commentary: Get to the Truth on Fracking

The Denver Post

The current dialogue about hydraulic fracturing is healthy because we should all understand how we obtain the energy we use.  In Colorado, much of this energy currently comes from natural gas and oil.  Natural gas heats about three out of every four homes and generates about one-fourth of our electricity.  Oil fuels most of the 5 million motor vehicles that we own or lease and the 46 billion vehicle miles annually driven on Colorado roads.


DGS Partner to Speak at National Journal Policy Summit

Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP partner David Neslin will be speaking at the National Journal policy summit entitled “Unleashing Potential: Finding the Best Regulatory Environment to Boost Responsible Natural Gas Production.” The event, underwritten by the American Chemistry Council, will be held in the Knight Broadcast Studio at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 2012, starting at 8:30 a.m.


David S. Neslin, Director of Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, To Join Davis Graham & Stubbs

Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP today announced the expansion of its oil and gas and public lands practices with the addition of David S. Neslin as a partner effective March 1, 2012. Dave is currently the Director of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency that regulates oil and gas development in Colorado. The addition of Dave Neslin continues the firm’s expansion of its team serving energy industry clients and brings to DGS a national figure in energy development.