Rodger Steen: Reform of Colorado oil, gas permitting
March 12, 2019
On March 1, legislation was introduced in the Colorado General Assembly that would finally update the way our state makes decisions about permitting the oil and gas industry, which will take into account its impacts on its neighbors' health and welfare. These neighbors are the citizens of Colorado.
This legislation is known as Senate Bill 19-181 and is overdue by more than a decade, to catch up with citizen protections required of other industries. This is a complex bill and is available for review at leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-181. At its core is the rebalancing of state priorities to protect citizens' health, safety, welfare and the environment over saving money for the industry.
These new protections will apply statewide, so they will affect our Western Slope and highly impacted places such as the retirement community of Battlement Mesa as well as the more densely populated Front Range.
Some other features of this bill include:
• Providing for local (city and county) land use control (requiring minimum setbacks, quality of access roads, etc.)
• Protecting property owners from forced pooling
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• Requiring consideration of alternate well location when near populated areas
• Improving air emission controls and focusing on limiting toxins and methane (as a global warming gas) using currently-available control technology
• Strengthening wildlife protections
• Providing for adequate funding of local and state government for administration and oversight of the industry
As with any industry that has for many years enjoyed special protections from impacted citizens, we anticipate well-funded pushback on this legislation, probably focusing on loss of jobs and revenue. These are the same 50-year-old industry arguments against tighter regulations that never come to pass.
We ask that each of you consider the arguments for and against this legislation, hopefully recognize the value in passage of this bill and that you will contact your state representatives indicating your support. For Routt County, Bob Rankin — email@example.com — is your senator and Dylan Roberts — Dylan.Roberts.House@State.CO.US — is your state legislator.
Chairman of Western Colorado Alliance’s Oil and Gas Committee