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April 18, 2024

Story, Brown’s Pipeline Safety Bill Passes Committee

DENVER, CO –  Pipeline safety legislation, sponsored by Representatives Tammy Story and Kyle Brown, passed the House Energy & Environment Committee today. HB24-1357 would address transparency and enforcement concerns about the Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) Pipeline Safety Program.  

“This bill is about keeping our neighbors and environment safe from dangerous pipeline leaks,” said Rep. Tammy Story, D-Conifer. “A recent state audit confirmed – pipeline operators are not being held to a high safety standard, jeopardizing people’s lives and livelihoods. We’re stepping up to ensure the Pipeline Safety Program is working as intended by increasing transparency requirements and establishing a minimum penalty amount for violators. Public health and safety is a top priority and this bill would require pipeline operators to check for and fix leaks in a timely manner.”

“Damaged or leaky pipelines can pose a risk to public health and safety, and add powerful greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere that contribute to climate change,” said Rep. Kyle Brown, D-Louisville. “This legislation ramps up the state’s enforcement, reporting and transparency regulations on pipeline operators so we can keep our communities safe. Minimum penalties for pipeline operators who violate the law will also help deter noncompliance. We’re serious about improving pipeline safety, and this bill gives the state the tools it needs to hold pipeline operators accountable.”

HB24-1357, which passed committee by a vote of 9-3, would require minimum penalty amounts for failure to follow rules designed to protect public health and safety. This bill would also limit the PUC's discretion for reducing or eliminating fines on violators and increase maximum penalty amounts. 

In 2023, the Office of the State Auditor produced a report that detailed six years of systemic failure of the Pipeline Safety Program, including failure to enforce safety requirements for 94 percent of instances of operator noncompliance. 

In addition to improving the efficacy of enforcement, this bill would also update pipeline reporting and transparency measures. Specifically, it would require the PUC to develop a user-friendly, public-facing website for pipeline safety data, including leak information, public complaints, and follow-up actions taken by the PUC in response.

HB24-1357 would also improve public safety by requiring the PUC to engage in rulemaking to require pipeline operators to utilize advanced leak detection technologies, prioritize and fix leaks based on severity, and address owner responsibilities for abandoned or decommissioned pipelines.

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