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April 25, 2019 03:57 PM UTC

BREAKING: Big Oil Abandons SB-181 Repeal Initiative

  • by: Colorado Pols
Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

That’s the word from the AP via FOX 31–there will be no attempt to repeal Senate Bill 19-181 this year, the landmark legislation granting more local control over oil and gas drilling and reforming the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to refocus its mission on public health and safety:

Opponents planned to ask voters this November to repeal and replace the law, but last week the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office rejected four versions of their proposed ballot initiative.

Officials said the proposals violated a law requiring initiatives to address only one subject.

Opponents of the oil and gas law say they’ll wait to see how the new rules take shape before deciding whether to ask voters to overturn it. [Pols emphasis]

Although their ballot initiative drafts were rejected by the Secretary of State’s office, the industry of course had both the time and resources to try again. The fact that they are choosing not to do so, instead waiting for the process of implementing the new law before deciding whether to commit to the costly process of a statewide ballot measure, only demonstrates again what proponents of SB-181 have maintained from the beginning: despite the shrill warnings that this legislation would “destroy oil and gas in Colorado,” nothing even remotely close to that is going to happen.

There will be more deference to local authority and a greater focus on public health and safety by the COGCC, but the fossil fuel industry will continue to play a major role in the state’s economy–subject to market forces that already act for and against fossil fuel production every day. Much like with the 2013 recall elections over gun safety laws, there’s a rush right now to do as much retaliatory political damage to majority Democrats as possible before it becomes clear that the overblown allegations that motivated backlash were not accurate. This is most evident in the recall campaign against Rep. Rochelle Galindo, where wild predictions of devastation for the oil and gas industry are the primary deflection from that campaign’s less savory motivations.

But the enormous expense of a statewide ballot campaign does not lend itself easily to a political bluff, and the smart money is moving on. This could be a watershed moment, the first sign of months of bellicose rhetoric meeting the wall of a far less controversial reality.

That would be good for the blood pressure of both sides of the aisle.


3 thoughts on “BREAKING: Big Oil Abandons SB-181 Repeal Initiative

  1. So many recalls . . . 

    . . . I guess it was bound to happen.

    . . . there’s probably just not enough good Colorado Nazis left to go around right now???


    (Yep. First post, straight to Godwin. It’s been one of those days weeks months years . . .)

  2. Big Oil is not moving out of Weld County. Far from it. They're buying up the leases of smaller operators, according to people who know. SB181 really doesn't faze them at all. Anadarko, after facing multiple lawsuits from injured workers, blown-up residents, and sexually harassed women, is selling out to Chevron. Chevron has no problem with SB181. Behind a paywall on Greeley Tribune:

    In the wake of the Colorado Legislature’s passage of a controversial oil and gas regulations measure, Chevron appeared to double down on Colorado oil and gas, becoming the world’s second largest energy producer with its $33 billion acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum, Weld County’s largest oil and gas producer.

    And a company spokesman didn’t indicate any major concerns about Senate Bill 181, which will increase local control of oil and gas regulations, among other changes, saying the company will work with Colorado communities to continue development.

    “We look forward to partnering with government officials and communities in Colorado to continue responsible, efficient and safe development of oil and gas,” Veronica Flores-Paniagua, Chevron’s external affairs advisor, said in a statement to The Tribune. “At the appropriate time, we will engage with all the appropriate parties to be sure that we understand their expectations and that we operate responsibly, which is what Anadarko has done and we plan to continue to do.”

    update: Anadarko was ultimately bought by Occidental, which outbid Chevron.  "Oxy" claims that it is  a leader in a "lower carbon future"

    Occidental has a proprietary tech to recapture carbon. Instead of spewing it all into the air, they inject most of it back into the ground.

    So…No DOOM, no huge job losses,  some job shuffle as smaller operators who can't afford to invest in pollution monitoring and abatement equipment sell their leases to bigger companies. But this has always been the way in Weld County.

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