PROMO Energy - Oil Pump Rig - iStock - Karina Movsesyan

Compromise legislation in Colorado appeases energy industry, environmentalists

© iStock - Karina Movsesyan
Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – A truce was declared between multiple organizations with competing interests regarding regulations of Colorado’s oil and gas industry.

Democratic Governor Jared Polis and other Democratic legislative leaders announced Monday an agreement with oil and gas industry to propose less-stringent legislation in exchange for a withdrawal of ballot measures by the industry and environmental groups.

PROMO Politician - Colorado Governor Jared Polis

Colorado Governor Jared Polis

In a statement released by Colorado House Democrats, legislation that has yet to be introduced would create more permitting and enforcement authority to reduce emissions, improve air quality and reduce pollution throughout the state. More funding for mass transit, conservation and restoration of wildlife habitat and new fees on oil and gas production will be included in the legislation.

"Our industry is committed to working with state agencies, stakeholders, and environmental groups to achieve our shared goals of safely producing affordable natural gas and oil, and improving our air quality standards; these bills are further evidence of that cooperation,” Kait Schwartz, director of the American Petroleum Institute Colorado, said in a statement.

In February, a bill in the Senate was introduced to adopt rules to end the issuance of new oil and gas permits by 2030. Senate Bill 24-159 also would reduce the total number of permits for new wells in 2028 and 2029 and require new permits issued after 2024 to stop operations by 2032. A Common Sense Institute report found the legislation could have a $2 billion impact on state and local tax revenue.

The bill was defeated in committee. Colorado’s legislative session ends May 8.

"Forging consensus on an issue like this is hard, which is what makes today's announcement all the more exciting," Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said in a statement. "This agreement represents Coloradans of all stripes coming together to put the needs of our state and our community first. It's taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, and I am grateful to everyone, especially the members of my caucus who have come to the table willing to work and, more importantly, listen to each other in the pursuit of an agreement we can all get behind.”

Environmental groups Conservation Colorado, Earthjustice, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, GreenLatinos and oil and gas producers Chevron, Occidental and Civitas supported the agreement, according to the Democrats’ news release.

“We have said for years that providing regulatory and legislative certainty for business owners and operators across the state and ensuring stability for a vital industry is of utmost importance,” Schwartz said. “We are pleased to see that the Governor agrees. The regulatory landscape for our industry has been completely overhauled during the last five years and it is crucial that those regulations, some of which have only just recently been implemented, be given the chance to work.”