bill designed to exert more local control over the construction of oil and gas wells approved by the colorado legislature
A controversial bill passed by the Colorado State Legislature that will significantly change the way oil and gas well drilling projects are approved in the state is on its way to Governor Jared Polis for his signature.
Senate Bill 181 gives to local government bodies more authority to regulate, and also reconstitutes the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, requiring it to more aggressively evaluate the environmental impact of well project applications.
The bill also mandates that a newly-drawn commission must include a public health specialist, with one other member representing the oil and gas industry, down from the current three industry members.
The measure has been opposed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, which said the legislation could have a negative impact on future well development, as well as the larger Colorado economy.
In a statement after passage of the bill, Sara Loflin, executive director of the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans, said, “It is time that communities have a voice when it comes to massive industrial projects being forced into their neighborhoods and near their schools.”
Last year Colorado voters rejected by a 56 to 44 percent margin Proposition 112, which would have expanded the current 500-foot setback for any new well being built near a home to 2,500 feet.
Proponents of the setback measure pointed to several explosions related to wells, including most prominently a 2017 explosion caused when leaked gas from an abandoned oil well flow ignited and killed two men in Firestone, Colorado
According to industry sources there are roughly 60,000 active oil and gas wells in Colorado, along with another 20,000 that are abandoned.
By Garry Boulard
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