(March 21) – A bill by Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, and Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora, to affirm local control of where the oil and gas industry can operate passed the House State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee on a 5-4 vote this afternoon. HB16-1355 would amend the county and municipal land use statutes to clarify that local land use authority extends to the siting of oil and gas facilities.

“I introduced this bill to give local residents and their own elected officials a voice in the location of oil and gas operations,” said Rep. Foote. “Right now, an oil and gas company simply decides where it wants to drill, gets a permit from the state, and the company goes to the local government and demands access. Impacted residents are cut out—but I believe they should have a say. Let’s treat the oil and gas industry the same as any other industry in Colorado.”

“The aim of this bill is to create an atmosphere of fairness and balance,” said Rep. Ryden. “Oil and gas should play by the same rules as any other industry and that means listening to the concerns of the community where they are operating.”

Testimony lasted over four hours and included many local Colorado elected officials concerned about their lack of authority for siting decisions.

“HB 1355 would alleviate many issues by giving the county the authority it needs—not to ban oil and gas operations—but to better regulate the siting of these operations,” testified Adams County Commissioner Eva Henry.

“If it’s closer to where we work, where we pray, and where we learn, that’s where our local municipalities need greater accountability when it comes to safety,” testified Lafayette Mayor Christine Berg who testified that the current process puts cities at a disadvantage.

The bill specifies that counties and municipalities can regulate the siting of oil and gas facilities within their existing land use authority. It also clarifies that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s (COGCC) authority to regulate oil and gas operations does not exempt oil and gas facilities from local governments’ siting authority.

The 5-4 vote sends the bill to the House floor for second reading.

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