The Colorado legislature is so exasperating I rarely comment on it. Most of the time the legislators behave like the Society to Exploit Colorado’s Natural Resources at All Costs. Last month SB 88 was introduced, which would have granted supreme oversight of the oil & gas industry to the COGCC and prohibited cities and counties from making their own rules on local drilling operations. The Senate Local Government Committee defeated the bill 4-1.
Yay. Sanity prevails, right? Not exactly. The Colorado House defeated two bills which would have given Coloradans more protection from oil and gas drilling near their homes.
From the The Colorado Statesman Legislative Briefs –
Rep. Su Ryden’s bill, House Bill 1176, would have set a 1,000-foot minimum statewide setback for drilling operations near schools or residential areas. The current standard, 350 feet, has come under criticism with the recent surge in drilling activity along the Front Range, the most heavily populated part of the state.
Ryden, D-Aurora, said the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission had promised for years to introduce a higher standard that codifies best practices already observed by most of the oil and gas industry.
“With thousands of Coloradans’ health, safety and property values at stake, I believe we need to act now,” she said.
Rep. Roger Wilson’s House Bill 1173 would have directed drillers to store drilling fluids in tanks. Many drillers store drilling and hydraulic fracturing fluids in open pits, where the volatile compounds they contain can evaporate, leak or be washed out in a flood.
Wilson, D-Glenwood Springs, described open pits as “an accident waiting to happen,” with potentially catastrophic results for the environment and the energy industry. “I fear such an accident — spilling fluids out of a pit into the Colorado River or into other tributaries — would be a serious blow to the industry in the state of Colorado,” he said.
The House Local Government Committee voted 8-3 against Ryden’s bill and 7-3 against Wilson’s bill.
One step forward, two steps backward. It’s the dance we know well. At least there’s still a chance for cities and counties to make their own rules regarding setbacks and open pits.