Update on oil and gas bills

March 28, 2013

Colorado

Crews work at the site of a natural gas seep four miles north of Parachute, Colo., at the Parachute Creek Gas Plant on Monday, Mar. 18, 2013. The leak has spilled about 5,400 gallons of a hydrocarbon fluid that has not yet been identified. (AP PHOTO/ Dean Humphrey/ The Daily Sentinel)

Crews work at the site of a natural gas leak 4 miles north of Parachute CO, at the Williams Parachute Creek Gas Plant on March 18, 2013. To date, more than 153,600 gallons of contaminated groundwater and more than 6,000 gallons of unidentified hydrocarbon compounds have been removed from the site. (AP PHOTO/ Dean Humphrey/ The Daily Sentinel)

Oil and gas violations could be costlier
Legislative committees approve raise in fines

With the majority of gun control bills in the rearview mirror, Democrats have set their crosshair on regulating the energy industry. Committees of both the House and Senate on Thursday advanced key oil and gas agenda items, readying for another fight with Republicans under the Gold Dome …

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Bill speeds reporting of oil, gas spills, toughens notification rules (subscribers only)

House Bill 1278, introduced March 25 by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D-Steamboat Springs)

would require reporting within 24 hours of all spills of oil and exploration and production waste involving one barrel (42 gallons) or more. Current Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules vary, ranging from requiring reporting of general spills of five barrels or more within 10 days, to mandating immediate reporting of any spills if they affect or threaten a surface water supply.

Under the bill, notification requirements would be extended to include landowners adjacent to the spill site and the emergency response authority within the affected municipality, or the local county if in an unincorporated area. Currently, reports must be made principally to the commission, with certain other requirements, including notification of the owner of a spill site within 24 hours of reportable spills, and immediate notification of emergency contacts for surface water intake facilities for spills that harm or threaten their water …

HB 13-1278
Oil Spills Gas Releases Reporting
House Committee: Transportation & Energy

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HB 13-1273
New Funding Local Governments Oil Gas Dev Impacts
House Committee: Health, Insurance & Environment

Introduced on March 20 and sponsored by state Rep. Randy Fischer (D-Fort Collins) and Sen. John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins) would require the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to create a new fee on drilling permits. It was assigned to the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee. The new fee would be high enough to cover local governments’ costs associated with having a “local government designee” (LGD). The bill would also allow local governments to levy a new “environmental or public health and welfare oversight charge” on new oil and gas wells within their jurisdiction.

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HB 13-1275
Front Range Oil & Gas Human Health Study
Sponsored by state Rep. Joann Ginal (D- Fort Collins) and Sen. Irene Aguilar (D-Denver)
House Committee: Health, Insurance & Environment

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.

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HB 13-1267
Increase Maximum Penalty Oil Gas Violations
Introduced by Rep. Mike Foote (D-Longmont), HB 1267 would increase maximum fines for violations, such as spills or safety issues. On an 8-5 vote, the House Transportation and Energy Committee approved House Bill 1267 on March 21.

Lafayette lawmaker looks to pump up oil and gas fines
Industry trade group to work with Foote on bill to increase penalties for spills, pollution

For more information about HB-1267 and other oil & gas related bills introduced so far this session see: Three more oil & gas bills introduced

Follow the progress of these bills at Colorado Capitol Watch.

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