March 4, 2019 Read More →

Colorado legislators propose major changes to state’s oil, gas drilling regulations

Associated Press:

Colorado Democratic lawmakers released a plan late Friday afternoon for a major overhaul of oil and gas regulations that would make human health and environmental protection the state’s highest priority, not energy production.

The bill also includes provisions giving local governments the authority to regulate the location of new wells and to impose fines for spills and pollution. Currently, only the state has those powers. The bill would also put a hold on some new state drilling permits until the revised rules are in place.

The legislation would bring a fundamental change to the way the state oversees one of its biggest and most contentious industries. State law currently requires regulators to encourage oil and gas production and says health and environmental protections are limited by what is feasible and cost-effective.

Drilling often leads to conflicts in Colorado, where growing suburbs overlap lucrative oil and gas fields. The state has repeatedly revised regulations over the past few years, but the changes did not go far enough to satisfy health and environmental advocates and some local governments.

Republican lawmakers blocked previous attempts at major changes, but Democrats now control both houses of the Legislature after capturing a majority in the state Senate in November.

Newly elected Democratic Gov. Jared Polis supports the overhaul. At a news conference Thursday that previewed the bill, he said change was overdue.

More: Colorado Dems unveil plan for big change in oil-gas drilling

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