Just four months after voters in Colorado turned down a proposal requiring that all new gas and oil wells be drilled at least 2,500 feet away from the nearest residential dwelling, members of the state legislature are approaching the contentious issue from a different angle.
Newly introduced Senate Bill 181 would give local governments a greater say in where new wells can be drilled, a power that is now vested in the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
The bill would also allow local governments to direct the conservation commission to find other sites when a well proposal is too close to a populated area.
The bill stipulates that local government will have the “authority to regulate the siting of oil and gas locations,” regulating “land use and surface impacts,” and imposing fines for any leaks, spills, and emissions.”
The legislation is in response to the growing number of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of wells in a state that is currently one of the largest producers of oil and gas in the country.
An analysis of the bill provided by Colorado’s Legislative Council Staff said the legislation’s impact on both local revenues and expenditures “will depend on the type of regulations, if any, a local government chooses to adopt.”
The same analysis also notes that any new drilling prohibitions will “reduce future local property tax collections, since producing well sites have higher assessed value than non-producing areas.”
The legislation is currently under review in the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.
By Garry Boulard
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