2022 Conservation Scorecard

Oil & Gas

Oil and gas drilling in Colorado is pushing further into communities. Several commonsense measures were introduced this year to protect human health, safety, and the environment from the dangers of living near oil and gas activity.

Bills Tracked

PriorityHB 1256 Oil and Gas Facilities Distance From School Property

Oil and gas operations are currently required to be 1,000 feet away from school buildings, but not school property lines that encompass playgrounds and sports fields. This bill would have clarified that wells must be 1,000 feet away from a school’s property boundary, closing a loophole that puts children at risk.

Pro-Environment Vote: YES

Status: Killed in Senate Committee

HB 1336 Additional Protections Forced Pooling Order

“Forced pooling” allows oil and gas companies to extract minerals without the mineral owner’s permission. Under current law, if one neighbor in a subdivision signs a lease for energy development, the entire neighborhood’s mineral rights could be developed by an oil and gas company. This bill sought to increase how much notice oil and gas companies have to give mineral rights owners before force pooling, as well as create better statewide tracking of the number of people and acres subjected to forced pooling.

Pro-Environment Vote: YES

Status: Killed in Senate Committee

SB 35 Tampering with Oil and Gas Equipment

It is currently a misdemeanor to knowingly tamper with or vandalize equipment used for oil and gas activity such as pipelines, fences, and well pads. In Colorado, these crimes rarely occur. Yet this bill would have created a new felony with punishments up to 18 months in prison and a $100,000 fine for tampering with oil and gas equipment. Several proper legal channels to address these actions already exist, so this bill was unnecessary.

Pro-Environment Vote: NO

Status: Killed in House Committee

Spotlight: An Industry Versus the People

Oil and gas development has been a controversial topic in Colorado for years, but this year the controversy took a more urgent turn. In April, two people in Firestone, Colorado were killed when their house exploded from natural gas leaking out of a flow line from a nearby oil well. Lawmakers tried to pass a bill to require oil and gas companies to release maps of their flow lines, but it failed in the state Senate due to pressure from the oil and gas industry.

This wasn’t the only bill killed at the behest of the oil and gas industry this year. Safeguards to keep oil and gas away from school properties and to protect homeowners from being forced to allow development of their mineral rights were also defeated. In addition, Republicans in the Senate refused to pass two practical budget amendments: adding oil and gas field inspectors and buying mobile air quality monitoring units.

Rather than passing productive bills to make oil and gas drilling safer, the oil and gas industry focused their time and lobbying might on “solving” a nonexistent problem: creating a new felony charge for tampering with oil and gas equipment. In other words, the industry used its lobbying power at the Capitol to protect itself, not Coloradans.

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