Mitsch Bush’s Oil Spill Bill Gets Bipartisan Support

(April 19) – A bill to improve reporting requirements for oil spills passed the House today with  bipartisan support.

HB13-1278, sponsored by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat Springs), was approved by a 39-24 vote. The bill sets a one-barrel threshold for required reporting of any oil spill. The current threshold is five barrels. The spill must be reported within 24 hours to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the local jurisdiction responsible for emergency response.

By tightening the reporting deadline, the bill, if enacted earlier, might have reduced the impact of the spill now threatening to contaminate Parachute Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the Colorado Petroleum Association joined environmental groups expressing support for the consultations that produced the bill. The House Democrats voting for the bill today were joined by Reps. Don Coram (R-Montrose), Spencer Swalm (R-Centennial) and Jared Wright (R-Fruita).

“I worked with all stakeholders on this bill, so it’s wonderful to see some bipartisanship behind this common-sense piece of legislation,” Rep. Mitsch Bush said after the vote.

Also gaining final House passage was HB13-1273, sponsored by Rep. Randy Fischer (D-Fort Collins). It sets up a new fund, paid for through oil and gas operators’ drilling application fees, to help local governments mitigate the impacts of drilling, and allows local governments to charge fees for monitoring of new oil and gas development.

“Local communities will get help dealing with the collateral damage caused by drilling and gain reassurance that their environmental and health concerns are being addressed,” Rep. Fischer said after the 34-28 vote that sent the bill to the Senate.

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