(March 21) – Rep. Mike Foote’s bill to add real teeth to the state’s regulations for oil and gas producers made a successful debut today when the House Transportation & Energy Committee approved it on an 8-5 party-line vote.
HB13-1267 will bring Colorado’s schedule of fines into this century and make operators think twice about cutting corners at the expense of local jobs and public health. The bill increases the maximum daily fine for violators of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regulations to $15,000 and repeals the cap on the maximum total fine.
Under current law adopted in the 1950s, the daily fine limit is $1,000 and the total fine is capped at $10,000. In the high-stakes world of energy exploration, that’s pocket change, and often makes noncompliance the less expensive option.
Responsible operators should have no problem with the bill. But by making sure the state can impose sufficient fines on careless and reckless operators, HB13-1267 will allow the COGCC to enforce its regulations, incentivize safe practices and quick remedial action, deter scofflaw behavior, and protect Coloradans’ jobs and health and the state’s clean air and water.
Rep. Foote (D-Lafayette) noted that Colorado’s fine schedule is one of the lowest in the nation. “In the Texas legislature there’s a proposal to increase that to $200,000 per violation, per day, with no cap,” he told the committee, “and apparently there’s a trade association that’s in favor of that bill.”