Late on Friday, March 1st, Senate Bill 19-181 was introduced in the Colorado State Senate. The Bill would bring sweeping changes to oil and gas regulation in Colorado, less than 6 months after voters rejected Proposition 112 at the ballot box. After its first marathon 12-hour hearing Tuesday before the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee, the Bill passed its first vote 4-3 along party lines to move to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.
Labeled the “Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations”, the Bill would drastically impact the oil and gas industry in Colorado and potentially put the jobs of over 30,000 employees of the oil and gas industry in jeopardy. The changes in the Bill include among other proposals:
- Revise the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) from fostering oil and gas development to increased regulation.
- Change the makeup of the COGCC by decreasing industry representation on the Commission from three members to one.
- Provide for local control of oil and gas operations, which could lead to outright bans in certain localities.
Some of the proposals contained in the Bill have been overturned by previous court challenges or voters have directly rejected the same on election day.
The Bill was set for its first hearing one business day after it was introduced. Large protests against the Bill have already taken place outside the Colorado State Capital. Industry supporters are questioning why the Bill appears to be on the fast track in the legislature and fear that the changes proposed could cause unintended consequences, including job losses and decreases in taxes on oil and gas production which provides funding for public schools.