Ken Salazar speaks out against oil and gas reform bill

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US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar speaks to reporters January 20, 2011 at the Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo in Washington, DC. The US and China signed the Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreementwhich allows the giant pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian to remain at the zoo for five more years. Credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

DENVER — A renowned Colorado Democrat is speaking out against an oil and gas bill currently being considered by state lawmakers. In a press release, Ken Salazar said the bill is “too extreme for Colorado.”

Salazar served as a U.S. senator, Colorado attorney general and secretary of the interior under President Barack Obama. He currently works for a law firm that represents Anadarko, one of the state’s largest oil and gas producers.

Senate Bill 181 supporters say the bill would prioritize the safety and health of citizens. It would give local governments authority over the location of new wells, a power now held by state regulators.

The far-reaching measure also would reorganize the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, reducing the number of industry representatives and adding commissioners with expertise in environmental protection and public health.

In the press release, Salazar described himself as a “proud Democrat” who has worked to protect the environment. However, he also said that when he was a senator, liberals and conservatives worked together to make the United States energy independent.

“Colorado has played a key role in securing that energy independence for our nation. Colorado is a leader of renewable energy. Colorado is also a center of oil and gas,” the statement reads, adding that more than 100,000 Coloradans work in the industry and it provides $1 billion in funding for schools and roads.

“S.B. 181 will wrongly bring our Colorado energy success story to an end,” Salazar said.

Salazar said the bill would allow local governments to effectively ban oil and gas development.

“That would be the wrong result for Colorado,” Salazar said.

The former interior secretary urged lawmakers to oppose the bill.

“Colorado’s oil and gas laws could be improved to address the targeted need for reform, including improvements in health and safety, environmental protection, and local engagement. But S.B. 181 is simply too extreme,” his statement reads.

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