House Passes Oil and Gas Safety Measure

(March 29) – Rep. Mike Foote’s bill to increase the margin of safety for students and teachers in oil country won final House approval this morning.

HB17-1256 would specify that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s 1,000-foot rule on oil and gas drilling setbacks from schools would be measured from the campus property line, including ballfields, playgrounds and modular classrooms, not just the permanent buildings. The bill would not apply in cases where schools are built near existing oil and gas production facilities.

Rep. Foote, D-Lafayette, pushed back against Republican efforts to misconstrue the bill.

“This bill is about one thing: keeping kids safe. Anyone who says otherwise simply has it wrong,” he said.

The real issue, Rep. Foote said as he gestured to the side walls of the House chamber, “is whether or not it makes sense to put a large, dangerous industrial operation on this end of the room, when a playground is on that end of the room.”

No Republican accepted Rep. Foote’s invitation to come to the mic to declare that it is a good combination to have oil and gas development in close proximity to children.

“Talk about setbacks — the biggest setback for the oil and gas industry would be not passing this bill,” Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, told the House during floor debate on Tuesday. He was alluding to the possibility of voter-approved measures to impose statewide restrictions on oil and gas operations in Colorado.

On a party-line vote of 37-28 this morning, the House sent HB17-1256 to the Senate.

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