Fossils Threaten Job Losses After Colorado Moves to Regulate Oil and Gas Health and Safety
U.S. fossils are rumbling about a threat to hundreds of thousands of jobs after the transport and energy committee of the Colorado state senate voted 4-3 to refocus the state’s oil and gas regulations on health and safety.
The draft measure, adopted after 187 people addressed a marathon, 12-hour committee hearing, “would require regulators to make the protection of human health and the environment their top priority,” the Glenwood Post Independent reports. “Current law makes energy production the primary goal.”
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The draft law “also gives local governments the option of regulating the location of new wells,” the paper states. “Existing law says only the state has that authority.”
The bill cleared the senate finance committee Friday. The Colorado General Assembly website says it “enhances local governments’ ability to protect public health, safety, and welfare and the environment by clarifying, reinforcing, and establishing their regulatory authority over the surface impacts of oil and gas development”.
The measure has support from Democrats, who control both houses of the state legislature, and from Democratic Governor Jared Polis. Republicans oppose it…and fossils are beside themselves.
The American Petroleum Institute said Bill SB19-181 would “at the very least hinder, if not prohibit” energy development in Colorado, “directly threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of state revenue, and hundreds of millions in education funding,” industry newsletter Rigzone reports.
Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Tracee Bentley said the bill brings in “the most overreaching provisions of any energy proposal we have ever reviewed and all but guarantees that industry will be forbidden from operating in certain jurisdictions,” adding that “this bill simply goes too far. There are far too many unintended consequences.” Rigzone identifies the Council as a division of the API.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg, who’s co-sponsoring the bill, “said it is a common-sense approach to dealing with frequent conflicts over drilling, especially in fast-growing communities north of Denver, which overlap the rich Wattenberg oil and gas field,” the Post Independent notes. Last year, a lawsuit against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission brought attention to environmental justice issues around the location of oil and gas fracking sites in the state.
But opponents got a boost from former U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, who served as Secretary of the Interior under President Barack Obama, now an attorney in private practice working for oil, gas, and renewable energy companies. While acknowledging the need to reform health and safety rules, Salazar said the new law “would give local governments ‘unfettered’ authority over the location of new wells and allow them to effectively ban drilling,” the Post Independent writes. “In a written statement, Salazar said Colorado’s oil, gas, and renewable energy is important to national security because it helps keep the country from depending on other nations.”