DENVER — House Democrats Wednesday afternoon quickly killed off a proposal to prevent any city or county that bans hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, from receiving severance tax revenues from the state.
Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, sponsored House Bill 1064 to ensure that severance taxes paid to the state by oil and gas companies, which measure in the hundreds of millions of dollars every year, aren’t providing revenue for cities that won’t allow fracking.
The House Local Government Committee, which is controlled by Democrats, voted down the bill Wednesday on a party-line vote.
“This bill would have punished local communities making land use decisions,” Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, said. “My community is downstream and downwind from oil and gas operations and we feel the public health impacts of fracking regardless of existing fracking bans.”
Sonnenberg presented his proposal as a measure of fairness, ensuring that cities don’t benefit financially from a practice they’ve banned and that those communities that do allow fracking benefit from more of the severance tax revenue.
“Passing this bill would have directed a higher percentage of severance tax funds to communities that help provide for the energy needs of our state,” said Sonnenberg.
“I am disappointed the Democrats failed to see the importance of providing these communities additional revenue to support the oil and gas industry.”
The vote comes just a day after a group of citizens filed paperwork for a ballot measure that would allow communities to ban fracking — and any other business deemed to be a threat to its health, safety and well-being.