Colorado Democrats unveil plan for big change in oil and gas drilling

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DENVER — Colorado Democratic lawmakers have released their plan to overhaul rules for oil and gas drilling, making public health and environmental protection the state’s highest priority.

Lawmakers introduced a bill late Friday afternoon that would fundamentally change the way the state oversees the industry. It includes provisions that give local governments authority to regulate the location of new wells and to impose fines for spills and pollution.

Under current law, only the state can regulate the industry, and the primary role of regulators is to encourage oil and gas production, not protect health and the environment.

The bill would also put a hold on some new state drilling permits until the revised rules are in place.

Industry and environmental groups were reviewing the 27-page bill and had no immediate comment.

On Friday evening, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association said that while it was still reading the bill, it had prepared the following statement:

“There’s a reason they dumped this bill late on a Friday with no stakeholder process, no conversation, no dialogue. It looks like a backdoor attempt to override the will of the voters. The industry is ready to have a conversation and strengthen our rules, but this bill is extreme. Let’s do this the Colorado way — stop playing this out through the media and get people of good faith in the room and work toward a balanced approach,” said Dan Haley, the president and CEO of COGA.

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