Colorado: Bill would tilt oil and gas playing field

Colorado Republicans want to hand control of the oil and gas conservation commission back to industry. PHOTO VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Republicans seek to kill input from public health and wildlife stakeholders

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado lawmakers are considering a bill that would once again tip the balance of power on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission toward industry.

House Bill 1223, approved in the House Agriculture Committee this week, would add two commissioners with industry experience and kill the voting power of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Department of Natural Resources ex officio members.

The changes would leave the commission with nine voting members, with five of them representing industry, going back to a scenario last seen in the administration of ex-Governor Bill Owens. Conservation groups opposed to the measure testified against it in the committee hearing this week.

The bill now moves to the House Appropriations Committee, where it is expected to pass easily, setting up a vote in the full House. The timing is not clear yet, but there is some concern that the bill could move quickly if the House leadership makes it a priority.

Environmental groups said the changes could result in the roll-back of hard-won conservation measures from the last few years. They are trying to round up support for a battle in the Senate, should the bill win House approval.

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