(May 1) – The House gave final approval today to a trio of bills to put a few guardrails around oil and gas operations in Colorado.
“You know the industry is out of control when it wants to drill on public open space and next to schools,” said Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, who was a prime sponsor of all three bills. “These bills will help us do more to provide transparency and protect public health and safety.”
- HB18-1289, sponsored by Reps. Foote and Dave Young, D-Greeley, exempting local governments and school districts from “forced pooling,” an eminent domain provision for oil and gas operators. “Forced pooling impacts the rights of property owners, and it’s time for a change,” Rep. Young said. “We can start this reform by allowing local governments and school districts to opt out.” The bill passed 34-30.
- HB18-1352, by Reps. Foote and Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, clarifying that drilling operations’ minimum setback from schools should be measured from the fenceline, not the front door of the school. “Oil and gas development in residential areas is the most concerning issue in my community right now, and it’s an area where the state must do more to help its citizens,” Rep. Gray said. “I’m eager to work with all parties to make that happen, and our schools are a great place to start.” The bill passed 35-29.
- HB18-1419, by Reps. Foote and Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora, requiring the state Oil and Gas Commission to ensure proper wellhead integrity of all oil and gas production wells and provide local governments with maps of underground pipelines. “This is a common-sense piece of legislation,” Rep. Jackson said. “All we’re asking is that the people of the state of Colorado be informed and kept safe.” The bill passed 35-29.
All three bills are headed toward the Republican-controlled state Senate.