Oil & Gas
While Colorado is moving rapidly from dirty energy sources to renewable energy, oil and gas still remain a large part of our state’s economy. During this transition, we need to be sure this heavy industrial activity is conducted as safely as possible, without infringing on the rights of local communities. Two bills this year aimed to clarify local authority and provide safeguards for our neighborhoods - but they were shut down by powerful oil and gas industry lobbying. We can change the balance of power by electing pro-conservation legislators this fall.
Spotlight: BP Severance Tax Fight
In April, multinational oil company BP won a lawsuit that it brought against the state of Colorado in the state Supreme Court. The case revolved around how much oil and gas companies can deduct from their severance taxes, the funds that they owe to Colorado taxpayers for the privilege to drill.
BP argued it could deduct theoretical “costs of capital” from its severance tax payments. The court sided with BP, and now Colorado taxpayers will have to pay up to $100 million back to oil and gas companies and potentially millions more dollars over the coming years.
This hurts Coloradans because severance tax funds help mitigate the impacts of oil and gas development in neighborhoods, fund clean water infrastructure, support energy assistance for low-income communities, and contribute to other important projects.
Ultimately, the state legislature decided to use “rainy day” funds to pay back oil and gas companies this year, but a bill to permanently fix this new handout to oil companies failed.
With oil and gas development rapidly encroaching on suburban areas, the conflicts between heavy industrial activities and residential areas have grown. This bill would have affirmed that local governments have a say in where and how oil and gas is developed in their communities.
Pro-Environment Vote: YES
Bill Sponsors: Representatives Mike Foote & Su Ryden, Senators Jessie Ulibarri & Matt Jones
Status: House Vote: Failed 33-32
Drilling and fracking in neighborhoods troubles many Colorado homeowners. Risks from man-made earthquakes (Colorado ranks 4th for risk), impacts to water wells, and damage to homes concern many. This bill would have made it clear that the oil and gas industry is liable for damages to homes.
Pro-Environment Vote: YES
Bill Sponsors: Representative Joe Salazar, Senator Morgan Carroll
Status: House Vote: Passed 33-31 | Senate: Died in Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee