(Feb. 2) – Rep. Joe Salazar’s bill to make the protection of public health, safety and welfare the primary consideration in decisions relating to oil and gas development passed the House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee late Thursday night.
HB18-1071 is a game-changing bill that recognizes the Colorado Court of Appeals’ 2017 ruling in Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which found that public health, safety and welfare must come first when the COGCC makes decisions on drilling permits. The COGCC has long maintained that mineral rights owners’ development interests should be given equal weight with public health and safety.
The bill also follows passage of Question 301, a 2017 Broomfield ballot initiative prioritizing public health and safety in oil and gas siting decisions.
“This bill doesn’t stop oil and gas drilling in Colorado,” said Rep. Salazar, D-Thornton. “But it will set a more reasonable standard to protect public health and safety. And it will break the stranglehold that the industry has on Colorado.”
After more than four hours of testimony from four dozen concerned citizens and half a dozen industry representatives, the Health, Insurance & Environment Committee voted 7-6 to send HB18-1071 to the full House.