Tell Your Legislators: Support Protective Oil & Gas Legislation

Updated May 3, 2013 –

The 2013 legislative session at the Colorado Statehouse is shaping up to be a busy one for legislation that would increase protections for public health and the environment from risky oil and gas development. A number of bills have already been introduced, and more are on the way. Check this page over the coming months for information about introduced bills.

 

Contact Your Elected Officials!

Click here for a list of elected officials’ contact information for most geographic areas in the Delta County Region. Then let your state representative and senator know that you support legislation that will protect people and the environment from irresponsible oil and gas development!

Introduced Bills

SB 202 – More Inspectors for Oil & Gas Facilities (bill history)

Senate Sponsorship: Sen. Jones

House Sponsorship: Rep. Singer

Bill Summary: The bill requires the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission to use a risk-based strategy for inspecting oil and gas locations that targets the operational phases that are most likely to experience spills, excess emissions, and other types of violations. The number of commission inspectors must be equivalent to that needed to ensure that each oil and gas location is inspected at least once per year.

HB 1267 – Increased Penalties for Violations (bill history)

House Sponsorship: Rep. Foote

Senate Sponsorship: Sen. Jones

Bill Summary: Current law specifies that a violation of the “Oil and Gas Conservation Act” is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 per day, subject to a penalty schedule promulgated by the oil and gas conservation commission that considers aggravating and mitigating circumstances. The maximum total fine is capped at $10,000 for violations that are not significant. The bill increases the maximum daily fine to $15,000, sets a minimum fine of $5,000 per violation per day for violations that have a significant adverse impact on public health, safety, or welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources, and repeals the cap on the maximum total fine.

HB 1268 – Homebuyer Disclosure (bill  history)

House Sponsorship: Rep. Moreno; Co-Sponsors: Reps. Foote, Hullinghorst, Lebsock, Mitsch Bush, Pabon, Singer

Senate Sponsorship: N/A

Bill Summary: The bill requires a seller to disclose in the sale of real property that a separate mineral estate may subject the property to oil, gas, or mineral extraction. A standard disclosure or a substantially similar disclosure is required. A seller that provides this disclosure is not liable for any damages of the purchaser from oil, gas, or mineral extraction.

HB 1269 – Remove Conflict of Interest at COGCC (bill history)

House Sponsorship: Rep. Foote; Co-Sponsors: Reps. Court, Duran, Fields, Fischer, Ginal, Hamner, Hullinghorst, Kagan, Labuda, Lee, Levy, Melton, Mitsch Bush, Moreno, Pabon, Primavera, Ryden, Salazar, Schafer, Singer, William

Senate Sponsorship: Sen. Jones; Co-Sponsors: Ulibarri, Kefalas

Bill Summary: Under current law, the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission:

  • Has mandates to reduce waste and to foster the development of oil and gas resources in a manner consistent with the protection of public health, the environment, and wildlife resources; and
  • Can include at least 3 commissioners who are employed by the industry

Section 1 of the bill amends the commission’s mandate to ensure that the development of oil and gas resources protects public health, the environment, and wildlife resources. Section 2 redefines “waste” to exclude reduced production that results from compliance with government regulation. Section 3 prohibits a newly appointed commissioner from being an employee, officer, or director of an oil and gas operator or oil and gas service company while serving on the commission.

HB 1273 – Financial Resources for Local Governments (bill history)

House Sponsorship: Rep. Fischer; Co-Sponsors: Reps. Foote, Ginal, Hullinghorst, Lebsock, Levy, May, Mitsch Bush, Pabon, Primavera, Ryden, Singer

Senate Sponsorship: Sen. Kefalas; Co-Sponsors: Sen. Jones

Bill Summary: Current law authorizes local governments to designate a person to participate in certain proceedings before the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission, including the issuance of permits to drill a well. Section 2of the bill requires oil and gas operators to pay to the commission a local government designee fee, established by the commission by rule, when applying for a permit to drill. The commission will allocate the fee equally to each local government that has registered a local government designee with the commission within whose boundaries an oil and gas facility authorized by the permit is located. The commission must set the fee, after consulting with local governments, at a level to provide reimbursement to a local government for its costs associated with maintaining a local government designee. The prohibition on local governments charging a tax or fee to conduct inspections or monitoring of oil and gas operations with regard to matters that are subject to rule, order, or permit condition administered by the commission is repealed. Section 3 authorizes local governments to collect an environmental or public health and welfare oversight charge on new oil and gas development, collectible upon issuance of a development permit by the local government.

HB 1275 – Front Range Health Impact Assessment (bill history)

House Sponsorship: Rep. Ginal; Co-Sponsors: Reps. Fischer, Foote, Hullinghorst, Schafer, Singer

Senate Sponsorship: Sen. Aguilar

Bill Summary: Section 1 of the bill directs the state board of health in the department of public health and environment to issue a request for proposals to conduct a review of existing epidemiological data regarding the effects of oil and gas operations on human health in the counties of Larimer, Weld, Boulder, and Arapahoe and one or more control areas. The selected contractor must provide its analysis of the data in a report to the general assembly by March 15, 2014. The contractor must file interim reports with an oversight committee appointed by legislative leadership and the governor. The report must include the committee’s recommendation regarding whether a follow-up study to collect and analyze new epidemiological data is warranted. Section 2 authorizes the use of the mill levy on oil and gas production to pay for the review.

The final report or an interim report may include a finding regarding whether the division of administration in the department or the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission should enter a cease-and-desist order against continued oil and gas operations, emission of air pollutants, or the discharge of water pollutants from any specifically identified oil and gas facilities. Section 3 directs the division to enter a cease-and-desist order against the continued emission of air pollutants from those facilities if the report finds that it should and the division agrees that it should, section 4 requires the same for the discharge of water pollutants, and section 5 requires the same of the commission.

HB 1278 – Lower Threshold for Spill Reporting (bill history)

House Sponsorship: Rep. Mitsch Bush

Senate Sponsorship: N/A

Bill Summary: The bill requires an oil and gas operator to report a spill of one barrel or more, or the equivalent of one barrel or more, of oil or exploration and production waste within 24 hours after the discovery of the spill. The operator is required to make the report to the oil and gas conservation commission; and to the entity with jurisdiction over emergency response within the local municipality, if the spill occurred within a municipality, or the local county if the spill did not occur within a municipality; to the surface owner; and to the owners of land adjacent to the spill. The operator’s report of the spill must include information concerning the constituent compounds involved in the spill. The bill authorizes the commission to promulgate rules to implement these requirements.

HB 1316 – Close Anadarko-Noble Loophole, Require Uniform Water Sampling Rule (bill history)

House Sponsorship: Reps. Hullinghorst and Salazar; Co-Sponsors: Rep. Young

Senate Sponsorship: Sen. Ulibarri

Bill Summary:  The Colorado oil and gas conservation commission recently adopted rules that require oil and gas operators to conduct groundwater sampling but specify less rigorous standards for particular areas of the state. The bill requires the commission to adopt uniform statewide groundwater sampling rules that obligate operators to sample groundwater sources at specified intervals before and after drilling of a well.

HB 1322 – Treat Recovered Natural Gas as Lease Gas (bill history)

House Sponsorship: Rep. Young

Senate Sponsorship: N/A

Bill Summary:  After petroleum is pumped from an oil and gas well, the oil, gas, and water are separated. The oil and water are usually stored in tanks. After the initial phase of separation, some entrained gas remains in the oil, which then separates from the oil when the pressure subsequently drops. This is commonly referred to as flash gas. Depending on the amount, this gas may be vented or must be captured and controlled, often by flaring. The gas that has not yet passed through a sales meter can typically be used pursuant to the lease to run processing equipment on-site; neither severance taxes nor royalties are paid on this so-called “lease gas”.

Available technology allows for the recovery of flash gas vapors. Using this technology reduces potential air emissions when compared to venting or flaring, increases the supply of lease gas, increases the amount of gas that passes through sale meters, and thereby increases both royalty payments and severance taxes. Occasionally, the amount of recovered gas may exceed the amount needed to run processing equipment on-site. The bill defines lease gas to include recovered gas and gives the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission rule-making authority to
approve a method to allocate recovered gas that would otherwise be vented or flared as waste.

 

Up-to-Date News on Oil & Gas Legislation in Colorado:

May 3 – Denver Post: Oil and gas bills hit stiff opposition

May 2 – KDVR Fox 31 Denver: Hickenlooper, Democrats still at odds on bill to increase oil and gas fines

April 30 – Denver Business Journal: No oil and gas reps on oil and gas commission? The ban plan is back

April 25 – Colorado Public Radio: Oil and Gas Bill Could Cause Strife Between Governor, Majority Leader

April 23 – KDVR Fox 31 Denver: Democrats unsure where Hickenlooper stands on oil and gas oversight bills

April 17 – Denver Business Journal: Senate bill would reform Colorado oil and gas inspection

April 10 – KDVR Fox 31 Denver: Oil spill reporting legislation advances with bipartisan support

April 10 – NBC 11 News: COGCC bill makes its way through legislature

April 10 – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: Letter: Support House Bill 1269 on oil and gas commission as originally written

April 9 – Denver Business Journal: Colorado House passes bill to refocus oil and gas commission

April 8 -Denver Post: Oil and gas bills have Colorado legislature pitted against Hickenlooper

April 1 – Glenwood Springs Post Independent: Fines, spill reporting bills move through Legislature

April 1 – Grand Junction Daily Sentinel Letter: Oil gas commission contends with a conflicting mission

March 28 – Denver Post: Colorado oil commission conflict-of-interest bill goes to House

March 28 – Grist: Colorado lawmakers want to jack up ridiculously low oil-spill fines

March 26 – CBS Denver: Dems To Introduce At Least 10 Oil & Gas Regulation Bills This Session

March 22 – Denver Post: Hike in fines for Colorado oil and gas violations passes committees

March 21 – Colorado Public Radio: Life Inside Colorado’s Oil And Gas Boom

March 20 – Denver Post, The Balance Sheet Blog: Salvo of bills aim at Colorado oil and gas regulation on many fronts

March 18 – Denver Post: Oil and gas battles move to Colorado statehouse

March 14- Boulder Daily Camera: Jones-Singer bill would increase oil, gas well inspections