Bill introduced to preempt local authority over gas and oil drilling

January 27, 2012

gas well drilling


From the Colorado Municipal League Statehouse Report – January 23, 2012

Oil & gas: Preemption of local authority

This past week saw the introduction of the first of at least two bills aimed at radically limiting or completely extinguishing local government authority over one class of industrial land use: oil and gas operations. SB 12-088, which is sponsored by Douglas County Sen. Ted Harvey, R- Highlands Ranch, declares oil and gas regulation a matter of statewide concern and expressly preempts all local regulation of “oil and gas operations.” Colorado statutes give the latter term an exceedingly broad scope, so too would be the preemptive scope of this bill should it be enacted. The bill reverses longstanding Colorado law recognizing a local role in dealing with the land use impacts of this industry. CML will oppose this unfortunate legislation.

Still to come, we are told, is a preemption bill sponsored by House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, which will also preempt some or all of municipal and county authority. We have not seen a copy of this bill yet.

Legislators are responding to complaints from industry and the director of the state Oil & Gas Conservation Commission about consideration, and enactment in a few cases, of local moratoria on drilling. These moratoria have been adopted while a local government updates its regulations or responds to citizen alarm and requests for more information about hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” Those who have always sought preemption of our authority have opportunistically seized upon the latest controversy to once again push this agenda.

Despite the complaints from some in the industry, we are unaware of any actual adoption of any major new oil and gas regulations in any of our member municipalities – anywhere in Colorado – over the past year. Instead, we hear a lot about what somebody proposed somewhere, or what somebody is talking about somewhere else. If your municipality has adopted anything lately, please let us know so we can answer these concerns with specificity.

We expect an active election year session on this issue.

Bill: SB 12-088, Extinguish all local authority over oil and gas operations
Sponsor: Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch
Status: S. Local Government
Position: Oppose
Lobbyist: Geoff Wilson

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