Oil and Gas Reform Bill Clears Final Hurdle, Now Awaits Governor’s Signature

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg

One of the most heavily-discussed bills in Colorado completed its journey through the state legislature on Wednesday. Senate Bill 181 was given final approval by the State Senate — including all amendments added by the State House — and now moves to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who is expected to sign the legislation within the coming days.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, one of the prime sponsors of SB-181, announced the bill’s success in an email message earlier today:

SB181 marks the most sweeping and comprehensive reforms to oil and gas laws our state has seen in over 60 years! Health and safety will finally be the top priority in the regulation of oil and gas. Local governments will finally be able to have a voice in what is happening in their communities.

Here’s a quick summary of what the bill accomplishes:

♦ Puts health and safety first by clarifying the mission of the regulator, the COGCC, is to regulate (not foster) the oil and gas industry.

♦ Empowers local governments to have decision-making authority over the siting of oil & gas activities in their community and allows local regulations to be stronger than state requirements.

♦ Strengthens protections for wildlife, dramatically increases air quality and emissions standards, and addresses & prevents abandoned orphan wells.

♦ Protects property owners from forced pooling by increasing the threshold of consent required before forcing other mineral interest owners.

♦ Enhances worker safety by raising safety and training standards.

♦ Reforms the COGCC by reducing industry representation and influence on the commission.

9News has more on the final passage of SB-181, which included more than 30 hours of public testimony.

61 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Gilpin Guy says:

    How many sheriffs are going to ignore this law?

    • unnamed says:

      I dunno.  But unless one succumbs to insane troll logic, it won't matter much, because localities can decide whether they want more stringent O&G Regs than the state.  I don't think the Sheriff has any authority on who serves on COGCC.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        I was trying to make a snarky comment on situational ethics.  In this case it will be the Oil and Gas companies who will try to ignore these new regulations.  We've descended to the point where every law is scrutinized to determine if it should be followed.

    • MADCO says:

      With or without shirts?

  2. doremi says:

    So when is the O&G industry going to quite running those totally deceitful ads?

    When will the Denver Post require that people at least tell the truth in their letters to the editor?

    No:  This bill is not a redo of amendment 112 (no 2500' setbacks, right?)

    Yes.  This bill was considered in the middle of the night, but only because so many people came to speak on it.  It wasn't like hinted at in the ad as some nefarious secret meeting.

    No.  The bill isn't going to cause the loss of all those jobs they claim.  

    O & G folks.  Get a grip!   Be honest! Shame on Dan Haley, former newspaper reporter.



    • Genghis says:

      O & G folks.  Get a grip!   Be honest!

      That's like telling former Sen. David Vitter (R-La) to refrain from donning a diaper and supporting the sex industry via direct cash involvement.

  3. Duke Cox says:

    I don't think we can be too lavish in our praise and gratitude to all the tree huggers and associated liberals for this accomplishment. Thanks to all the members of the Democratic caucus and the governor!

    Your job is half done.

    DO NOT leave any rule creation that stems from this law to the agencies and the industry alone. Make sure you have and keep an oversight presence until rules are finished, accepted by the COGCC, and implemented.

    The past directors of the COGCC have forever been hamstrung by the language. For the purposes of the COGCC, the word "conservation" in the name means the preservation of the value of the resource for the benefit of the people of Colorado. That is interpreted as getting all the resource out of the ground…all of it. You do that by staying out of the way and deferring to what is "reasonable and customary". The industry gets to decide what those two words mean.

    The inequities in the balance of influence between citizens and the industry is baked into the rules. They will swarm rulemaking sessions with large numbers of lawyers and technicians. It will be necessary for the governor to be vigilant and commit substantial resources to monitor the proceedings and make sure the rulemaking process ends with NOTHING unresolved.

    Good luck.


    • MADCO says:

      It's gonna be on the ballot in … 25 weeks?

      We can show thanks then

    • The realist says:

      Agree, Duke – the rulemaking process will be the key. The industry will work to shave every bit of meaning from the new law – if they can get away with it.

    • gertie97 says:

      Duke is correct. The real nutcutting happens when the rules are formulated. The enviros need to bring their top lawyers and science types, because the industry sure will. What's left of our press should cover every minute, too. It's excruciatingly boring, much like water court, but it needs to be done.

  4. Voyageur says:

    Cry havoc!  Let loose the dogs of NIMBYism!smiley

  5. JohnInDenver says:

    Did someone set a baseline so we can measure the impact of this sweeping legislation?

     * how many permitted drill rigs in Colorado?

     * How many employees in the state economic figures?

     * Will there be a need for additional Labor Department functionaries for processing the unemployment compensation requests?

     * Is someone watching the decline in state income tax revenues?

    • Voyageur says:

      Expect a rise in legal fees as the nimby hounds are set free. But my hunch is that the industry will be okay for the most part.  Frankly, if it costs them some production that's good.  The current oversupply has prices in the toilet.

      • DaftPunk says:

        NIMBY is really an investment in the future, and capitalism at the community level. Government that is closest to the people effected is best, no? 

        The smallest level of government gets to decide how to preserve the environment its citizens inhabit, and the mineral resources that lie below it.

        In the future, if a financially stable O+G industry can develop those resources safely enough, maybe those people will make that economic trade-off.  The dinosaur poop only gets more valuable as it runs out, right?

    • mamajama55 says:

      J i D, the answers to your questions, at least about Colorado employment, are easily answered by anyone with basic internet access and the ability to navigate a website, prepare queries, and interpret them. Go to the Colorado Department of Labor Website, Labor Market Information tab.

      As of February 2019, there were 2,749,600 nonfarm jobs in Colorado, per the "Colorado Employment Situation" press release from CDLE. I've attached the pic of their graph below, so one can get an idea of the contributions of the various industries. Mining and logging, which includes all oil and gas extraction activities, is still less than 3% of Colorado's economy. Trade, transportation, and utilities are still by far the largest sector, followed by government and business services. The dark blue column is jobs in thousands. Mining, logging which includes oil and gas extraction, comprises 28,600 jobs.


      Total employment (including farm labor) is

      The number of people actively participating in the labor force increased 3,800 over the month to 3,138,900 and the number of people reporting themselves as employed increased 5,300 to 3,023,600, causing the number of unemployed to decrease 1,500.

      It would be a good idea to get that baseline data now, as the oil and gas industry will surely spin its narratives of DOOM, aided and abetted by Leeds Business College Frackademia.  However, the data will not be lost  – anyone can get onto the Labor Market Information gateway and pull a report for anytime in the last decade.

      The current (as of 2/19) information on Colorado direct oil and gas jobs can be found by following the labor market information gateway to "Industry Profile", typing in "oil and gas extraction"in the search box. Here are the numbers as of 2/19:

      While there may be a "multiplier effect" wherein some of these oil and gas jobs create other jobs, exact numbers on it would be hard to come by, as the job of a gas station quick stop attendant would be equally supported by all the other industries in the area. The only county which could reasonably claim a large "multiplier effect" might be Weld and possibly Garfield counties, as one can see from the numbers of jobs posted above.  In any case, COGA's and API's "250,000" jobs is a patently untrue exaggeration.

      • Voyageur says:

        Give mj credit for sticking to her guns, if not for honesty.  To believe her, you have to be lieve all that drilling doesn't create a single transportation job, since pipe appears by magic at the site, that $10 billion a year in direct investment doesn't create a single job in finance, etc.  If you're dumb enough to believe that, you are her lawful prey.  At least she didn't repeat her racist rant that most of the jobs went to illegal aliens, whom sheclaimed were easier to exploit.

        • mamajama55 says:

          You are a liar and a terrible person. If you quote my posts in the future, kindly have the journalistic integrity to quote my actual words, not what your inexhaustible rage and egotism dictates that you think I must have written.

          • Voyageur says:

            The liar is you.  You indeed made the claim that most workers were illegal aliens, which you said the industry prefered because they were easier to exploit.  For $70 an hour!  Imagine what those jobs would pay if they went to american citizens.

            I don't know if your bottomless reservoir of hate for "oily boyz" promped the rant or if you were just drunk again.  But you said it and you own it.

            • Curmudgeon says:

              Can you actually refute any of MJ's data with real data, or are you just going to keep shrieking nonsense?

              • Voyageur says:

                Of course.  Goggle Energy jobs in colorado leeds or energy jobs in Colorado API.  Both studies put the total around 232,,000.  MJ didn't do a study, she just blew some numbers out her nose.  Not one credible source is anything close to her lowball estimate and by her own admission she uses zero as a multiplier effect.  That is either a deliberate lie or utter stupidity.  Maybe both. Go ahead — try to find a real expert that is even close to her Trumpian bellowing.

                • Curmudgeon says:

                  So, you don't have the data to post, as she did. 

                  You could have just said that.

                  • Voyageur says:

                    Isn't it a bit early for you to be drunk and abusive, Curmy?  Or are you just pulling an all-night binge?

                    • Curmudgeon says:

                      Yeah, sorry.  Your personal insults are completely meaningless to me. In order for that to happen, I'd have to consider you as something other than an obvious and comically predictable troll, and I just can't.  So, save your tough guy BS for the other Liberals who roll their eyes and stay above your level.  I'm not as righteous as they are.  Best throw out another "Trump Stinks" or switch to a different alt.  We'll wait. 

                    • Voyageur says:

                      So, you're saying it's not booze, just your pre-Alheimer's condition.  I'll try to be more forebearing, you really can't help what you are.

                    • Curmudgeon says:

                      You do love to throw out insults based on age and medical conditions, don't you?  Someone far smarter than I am might think there was an underlying reason for  your constant accusations that other people are somehow physically infirm.  Regardless, it's not an issue for me.  

                      Even in the late stages of such a condition, anyone can see what you are.  

                      What else ya got? 

                    • Voyageur says:

                      I rest my casesmiley

                  • Curmudgeon says:

                    That's it?

                    That's almost disappointing.

            • mamajama55 says:

              You would know about posting while drunk. I leave that to your expertise.

              I did share some stories about former students, undocumented young men, who went to Wyoming, North Dakota, or Weld County to work in oil and gas over summer and spring breaks. They take the roughneck labor jobs, sometimes welding or driving if they are skilled, and yes, there are often two different pay scales for the native born English speakers and the immigrant non-English speakers. The undocumented guys do not get anywhere near $70/ hr – more like $15-25 / hour, which they think is great money for someone without papers.  My student knew enough and was confident enough to challenge the practice, and he managed to get what the white welders were getting paid.

              If you look at the death and injury rates for oilfield labor,you notice that 25% of those injured or killed are Latino and Hispanic, a greater rate than one would expect proportionate to Colorado's 21% Latino  population, half of that being males. My students reported that sometimes when these guys get injured, they don't report it because they want to keep working, and don't want to get deported. That's in all dangerous industries, not just gas and oil.

              I don't and didn't claim that most or all of the industry labor is undocumented immigrant males – but, yes, they are working in the industry for sure, and they are being exploited for sure.

              I hear from these guys when they come back to visit, or when they're in their senior years and thinking over options. I keep trying to talk them into college instead of the quick and dangerous money in oil. Mostly, they go for the quick money, because they have family to help out.

              Now if you think that's "racist" that I listen to undocumented Latino people and share out their stories, that shows that isn't something you normally do.  I would guess that listening, in general, is not something you are skilled at. Pre-judging, substituting your own narrative, and jumping to your own conclusions – that's more your style. I stand by my students' anecdotal stories of working as undocumented or limited English speaking people in the oil and gas industry.

              Your accusations of bias did prompt me to seek out alternative scholarly studies to Leeds SoB, the oil industry's preferred mouthpieces. I found another body of researchers from CU Boulder.

              Air Water Gas research group is a long term study consortium, funded by the National Science Foundation, that looks at the "big picture" of fossil fuel development. Most of their researchers are affiliated with CU Boulder.

              AWG is looking at all of the external costs to public health and environmental quality, as well as the economic gains. Their publications have mostly been in the pollution and public health topics, although they do have some socio-economic publications, as well, that I will read and report out on. Most of their data on jobs and employment, like mine, will come from the Colorado Department of Labor, since those are the folks who actually interview employers, review tax returns, etc, to come up with accurate job counts.

              Job "multiplier effects" probably exist – I know for sure that Colorado's 31,000 some cannabis jobs have multiplier effects, as I can see the BEST grant construction proceeding outside my classroom window. I would submit that these effects are not easily quantifiable, and are easily exaggerated for political effect, as CHB mentioned, and as the American Petroleum Institute, Colorado Oil and Gas Association, and yourself do every day.

              I realize that none of this will change your narrative – you'll keep on raving. It's what you do, after all. Everyone needs a hobby. But your credibility is shrinking all the time.

              • Voyageur says:

                Job multiplier effects "probably" exist?  And you're sticking with thenotion that the industry is rife with illegal aliens?

                Uhh, if there are so few jobs, how can they hire so many illegal aliens?

                Anyway, you admit that not a single credible source agrees with your wild attacks on the oil and gas industry.

                For you, that's progress.

              • MichaelBowman says:

                MJ – here is a report on the direct jobs being created by the emerging US cannabis industry.  (be sure to download the full report).  

                The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently compiled a list of the industries with the fastest-growing employment figures. Opportunities for home health care aides are expected to grow 47%. Openings for wind turbine technicians are expected to increase 96%. The need for solar voltaic installers is expected to grow 105%. Those gains are projected to happen over the course of 10 years.

                Here’s the incredible thing: The 110% growth in cannabis jobs will have happened over just three years.

                Federal job counters won’t tell you that. We just did.


                • mamajama55 says:

                  Michael, I had seen that Leafly report – it's where I got the number of 31,400 cannabis related jobs in Colorado in 2018. Which is impressive for a relatively new (this time around) industry.

                  Somewhere – can't find it right now – I came across an explanation for why I can't see these hemp -related jobs in the Colorado Department of Labor page that I've been citing.

                  It seems that because hemp was only recently descheduled,  it could not be included in the categories which the CDL counts. But in 2020, I remember reading, they'll finally create a category for hemp, probably a subcategory under farming and agriculture.  You probably know more about it, but I thought that was interesting.

        • DaftPunk says:

          Does ad hominem make you feel better about yourself?

          It doesn't make your argument any more convincing.

  6. Diogenesdemar says:

    Baseline, schmasheline . . . 

    * market forces

    * market forces

    * market forces

    * market forces

    . . . whether or not some Saudi prince, or Putin, or an Ayatollah, develops a case of gastrointestinal diarrhea will have a greater impact on all of these.

  7. DaftPunk says:

    ♦ Empowers local governments to have decision-making authority over the siting of oil & gas activities in their community and allows local regulations to be stronger than state requirements.

    ♦ Strengthens protections for wildlife, dramatically increases air quality and emissions standards, and addresses & prevents abandoned orphan wells.

  8. MichaelBowman says:

    Would someone kindly (wo)man-splain to the good once-senator that 181 is nothing like Prop 112?  Because, of course Democrats are trying to trigger a recession. <insert extra-large eye roll emoji>

    [T]he bill amounts to a recession-through-legislation – devastating an industry that employs more than 100,000 Coloradans and generates over $1 billion per year in state government revenue, most of which goes to support public schools.

    • notaskinnycook says:

      Are you kidding, Michael? We can't even explain it to V, and he isn't being paid (I don't think) to shill for the oily boyz.

      • Voyageur says:

        Not true, Cookie.   I have never called for the defeat of 181.

        Stalinist 112 was a brutal attack o n the property rights of thousands of Coloradans,  including me.  181, in contrast, used the legitimate legislative process

         and gave all Coloradans the chance to be heard that Stalinist 112's backers denied us.    

        THAT’s the difference, and it’s a vital one.

        Could it be better?  Sure.  But Democrats did accept some amendments that ameliorated the process.

        Yes, on the bad side, it lets loose the dogs of NiMBYism.  But the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution still protects the rights of mineral rights owners to fair compensation.

        So, yes, I think you will get a lot of litigation under the NIMBY rules.  But I think the industry as a whole can live with it.

        Would I have voted for it were I a legislator?  Probably not.  But will I lose any sleep over it?  No.  On the whole, the story of 181 vs. 112 simply illustrates that for all its faults, the legislative process is far superior to initiatives like Tabor.

        Little in politics is absolute, however.  I think we can salute the likes of Mike Bowman for passing cannabis reform when the legislature balked.

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