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The Latest: Ex-Sen. Ken Salazar opposes planned oil-gas rule

March 6, 2019
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Colorado Speaker of the House K.C. Becker, D-Boulder, makes a point during a rally inside the State Capitol in support of lawmakers' plan to advance a bill to overhaul the state's oil and gas regulations. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER (AP) — The Latest on a proposal to overhaul Colorado oil and gas regulations to focus on human health and safety (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar, a former U.S. senator and interior secretary, says a proposed overhaul of the state’s oil and gas regulations would give too much authority to local governments and could effectively ban drilling in some areas.

Salazar said Wednesday he understands the need to reform the rules, especially on health and safety. But he says a bill currently before the Legislature gives “unfettered” power to local government to limit the location of new wells.

In a written statement, Salazar said energy independence is important to U.S. national security, and Colorado’s oil, gas and renewable energy contribute to that.

Salazar was a U.S. senator from 2005 to 2009 and interior secretary under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013. He’s now an attorney in private practice in Denver and works for oil, gas and renewable energy companies.

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12 p.m.

Nearly 190 witnesses have weighed in on a proposal before the Colorado Legislature to overhaul the state’s oil and gas regulations to focus on human health and safety.

Legislative staffers say 101 people testified in favor of the change and 86 opposed it during a 12-hour hearing before the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee. The hearing ended early Wednesday.

The committee approved the bill by 4-3 on a party-line vote. The next stop is a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday.

The bill would also give local governments the option of regulating the location of new wells.

Backers say it’s a common-sense approach to dealing with frequent conflicts over health and safety. Opponents say it could lead to a virtual ban on drilling in some areas and cost jobs.

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9 a.m.

A Colorado Senate committee has advanced a bill that would overhaul oil and gas regulations to give local governments more authority over industry operations.

The Senate Transportation and Energy Committee voted 4-3 early Wednesday to send the bill to the chamber’s Finance Committee.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg, a bill co-sponsor, says it’s a common-sense approach to dealing with frequent conflicts over health and safety.

Opponents say it could lead to a virtual ban on drilling in some areas and cost jobs.

Drilling sparks frequent political battles, especially in fast-growing communities north of Denver, which overlap the rich Wattenberg oil and gas field.

The proposal would charge the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry, with protecting people and the environment first, not promoting energy production.