DENVER – A controversial bill that would dramatically change how Colorado regulates its $32 billion oil and gas industry is on its way to Governor Polis’ desk.
On Wednesday, the Colorado legislature voted in favor of the final passage of the bill in a 19-16 party-line vote, with majority Democrats supporting it.
Many conservation groups responded positively to the bill’s passage.
“Coloradans can breathe easier today knowing that our state is finally on track to put the health and safety of workers and residents, and our environment ahead of oil and gas industry profits. Thank you to our leaders who heeded voters’ clear message and delivered these overdue reforms,” Kelly Nordini, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado, said.
The legislation would make the protection of public health and safety and the environment the top priorities of state regulators. It also would grant local governments new authority over where wells can be drilled.
Currently, regulators’ top priority is encouraging production, and only the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state’s regulatory body, can approve well locations.
Minority Republicans in both legislative chambers and the industry mounted fierce challenges to the bill, which they claimed could jeopardize thousands of jobs and reduce tax revenues.
Governor Polis is expected to sign the bill into law.