(March 27) – A pair of bills to increase transparency and accountability surrounding oil and gas operations advanced in House committees today.

HB13-1268, sponsored by Rep. Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City), requires sellers of real estate to disclose any relevant information about mineral rights associated with the property, including the presence or potential for oil and gas drilling in the area. It passed the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Committee this morning on a unanimous vote.

Sellers of new homes are already required to make such disclosures; the bill would extend the rules to the resale market. The Colorado Association of Home Builders and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association testified in favor of the bill.

“We want buyers of property to know what they’re buying, and we want sellers to be protected from future claims if the buyer suffers damage from oil and gas exploration,” Rep. Moreno said.

HB 13-1267, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote (D-Lafayette), increases the maximum penalty for violations of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act from $1,000 to $15,000 per day, removes a $10,000 cap on fines for each violation, and sets a $5,000-a-day minimum for violations that are found to result in a significant adverse impact to public health or safety. It passed its second House committee, Finance, on a 7-5 vote this afternoon.

The bill would bring Colorado’s schedule of fines into the same ballpark as surrounding states. The current Colorado fines, unchanged since the 1950s, amount to chump change for oil and gas operators. Irresponsible operators regard a $10,000 fine as preferable to compliance, making enforcement difficult or impossible.

“The bill will allow the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to enforce its regulations, incentivize safe practices, encourage quick remedial action, deter scofflaw behavior and protect Coloradans’ jobs and health,” Rep. Foote said.

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