(April 12) –The House gave voice-vote approval today to a bill to add teeth to the state’s oil and gas regulations and enhance penalties on rulebreakers.

HB13-1267, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote (D-Lafayette), will bring Colorado’s schedule of fines for oil and gas spills or other infractions up to date. 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 the equivalent of a 10-cent parking ticket, and often makes noncompliance the less expensive option.

Republicans argued vociferously against regulations that hold the industry accountable. 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, and discourage scofflaws.

“Responsible operators, and that’s the vast majority of the operators in this state, will have no problem with this bill,” Rep. Foote said. “We need penalites that will actually hold accountable those who would jeopardize Coloradans’ jobs and health and the state’s clean air and water.”

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