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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis Signs Sweeping Oil and Gas Bill into Law

April 16, 2019

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a sweeping oil and gas bill on Tuesday as Boulder County officials and lawmakers celebrated a bill that will give local governments more control over drilling and mandate state regulators emphasize public safety.

Polis on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 181, which made its way through the state Legislature thanks to the Democrats’ newfound control of state government following November’s elections.

“Today, we take a step to ensure the health and safety of our communities and give local communities a meaningful voice in the activities in their neighborhoods,” Polis wrote in a tweet . “I am proud to stand alongside bipartisan elected officials, environmental orgs, and O&G industry to sign SB181.”

House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, and Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder, introduced the bill in February alongside Erin Martinez, whose brother and husband were killed in a home explosion in 2017 in Firestone .

Martinez was also at Tuesday’s signing of the bill, which gives local governments land use authority over extraction proposals, changes the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to protecting public health and safety, and raises the burden on oil and gas companies before they could force pool of mineral rights.

The Boulder County Commissioners released a statement applauding the signing Tuesday afternoon.

“While not perfect, the bill is a meaningful step forward in addressing the conflicts that have erupted from oil and gas development in recent years, particularly along the Front Range of Colorado,” the statement read. “The bill levels the playing field for local governments by giving them more control and a stronger voice in what takes place inside their borders. The improved control gained by local governments is not unlimited, but the bill does provide them with clearer authority to regulate oil and gas development — to protect public health, safety, and welfare, along with the environment and wildlife — like they do every other land use in their communities.”

The commissioners also stated the county would “continue to enforce its regulations” and “will be an active participant in upcoming rule-makings at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Air Quality Control Commission.”

The county is suing Crestone over a proposed plan to drill 140 wells along Colo. 52 north of Erie.

Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, said in a statement the next year would see “an extensive rule-making process to determine exactly how the executive branch enacts this new law.”

“We must remain involved and vigilant throughout the process,” Foote said in the statement. “But for today, we should take a moment to celebrate our real progress on this issue.”

Those who opposed the bill said it would negatively effect Colorado’s economy and cost jobs.

“Senate Bill 181 remains a threat to one of the foundations of Colorado’s economy,” said Colorado Petroleum Council spokesman Ben Marter in a statement. “Colorado’s energy future is too important to be wielded as a partisan weapon, and all Coloradans deserve to know the consequences of this bill, both intended and unintended.

Mitchell Byars: 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars