Hundreds rally for and against oil and gas bill at Colorado Capitol

DENVER — Testimony is expected to last late into Tuesday night at the State Capitol as SB 181, the oil and gas reform bill, is heard for the first time in committee.

More than 400 people were signed up to testify for and against the bill.

Before the hearing, a rally took place on the west steps of the Capitol, which was attended by hundreds in the energy industry. Some workers confirmed to FOX31 their company gave them the day off to come to the Capitol and testify.

“Today, we go inside to protect our jobs,” said Dan Haley, the president the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

“The sponsors of this bill hate everything about you guys. They hate your job and they hate Weld County,” said State Sen. John Cooke (R-Weld County).

Inside, supporters of the bill chanted, “Health and safety first” before the 2 p.m. hearing began.

The measure gives more regulatory power to the State Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, demanding the health and safety of Coloradans play a more important role.

The bill also gives more power to local governments to regulate oil and gas.

“We have worked on this bill with many stakeholders," said State Sen. Steve Fenberg, the chief Democratic sponsor of the bill in the Senate.

Fenberg emphasized that while the bill may force energy companies to change their business model, it will not shut down the industry in Colorado.

As expected, some of the most emotional testimony of the day came from Erin Martinez.

Martinez lost her husband and brother in the Firestone home explosion in 2017.

“With proper regulations and testing, this tragedy could have been prevented,” Martinez told lawmakers.

The bill does call for more flow line data to be shared publicly. An unknown flow line was determined to be the cause of the 2017 home explosion.

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