(March 1) – Majority Leader Steve Fenberg today introduced SB19-181, Protect Public Welfare Oil And Gas Operations, a piece of oil and gas legislation that will empower local governments and prioritize the health and safety of Coloradans. Co-sponsored in the House by Speaker KC Becker, the legislation seeks to provide the most meaningful changes to oil and gas regulations Colorado has seen in over 60 years.
“Colorado’s communities simply cannot afford to wait any longer,” said Majority Leader Fenberg. “We also must empower communities to take control over what’s happening in their backyards and equip them with the tools they need to stand up for their best interests. These common-sense reforms will ensure the industry operates in an accountable and cooperative manner.”
“Coloradans deserve a government that works for them – not the special interests. It is past time for action on this critical issue,” said Speaker KC Becker. “Let’s work together to update our antiquated oil and gas laws to give local communities more of a say when it comes to development near their homes and schools and protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.”
In the last decade, oil and gas development in Colorado has rapidly evolved, introducing new technologies and expanding heavy industrial operations to populated urban and suburban neighborhoods. Unfortunately, as the industry has changed, our laws and regulations have not kept pace, leaving our neighborhoods, communities and our environment to bear the impacts and increasing risks.
Key elements of the bill include:
- Providing clear language that local governments have land use authority to protect their public health, safety and welfare, environment and wildlife as drilling occurs.
- Clarification that the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is to regulate oil and gas activities, not foster oil and gas development as statute currently reads.
- Enhancement of staff capacity and balanced representation on the COGCC, including adding a commissioner with public health expertise and ensuring COGCC can charge appropriate permit fees.
- Direction to the COGCC to increase disclosure of pipeline and flowline locations and enhance monitoring for pipelines.
- Ensuring proper financial assurances for operations in Colorado designed to prevent continued orphan wells.
- Allows the commission to conduct a rulemaking to establish a pipeline certification safety process for oil and gas field welders to ensure that workers are properly trained and as result enhances safe operations.
- Current law allows for permission from just one mineral right owner to make the determination to “force pool” other mineral interest owners and require development of those resources against the will of the owners. The bill establishes a threshold requiring more than 50 percent of the mineral rights owners to consent to developing before forced pooling occurs.
- Directs air quality commission to put forward common sense rules that reduce harmful emissions including methane, and ensure wells are being constructed to high standards.
For more information about SB19-181, please visit https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-181.