Report: State rarely fines oil, gas companies for violations

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Fracking equipment. (Photo: MGN Online/SpiroFlo)

DENVER — Colorado regulators rarely hand out large fines to oil and gas companies that violate state rules.

According to the Fort Collins Coloradoan, of the 3,852 violation notices handed out by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission since 1996, just 267 or less than 7 percent, resulting in fines.

Of the 267 fines handed out, a little less than half (112) have been for $2,000 or less.

State law prohibits an energy company from being fined more than $1,000 for a single violation per day with a total fine cap of $10,000.

The COGCC doesn’t often aim for high fines because it considers compliance to be more important.

Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, has introduced a bill that would allow the state to charge more for fines. His bill would increase the max fine to $15,000 per day for violations. It would also impose a minimum $5,000 fine for a serious violation.

This bill is up for a House Finance Committee hearing this week.