These are all of the Energy and Environment bills proposed in the 2018 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, pros, and cons are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium and Minor. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!).

House

Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:

MAJOR

HB18-1071: Regulate Oil Gas Operations Protect Public Safety KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB18-1150: Local Government Liable Fracking Ban Oil and Gas Moratorium KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB18-1274: Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050 KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB18-1297: Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB18-1352: Oil and Gas Facilities Distance From School Property KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

MEDIUM

HB18-1008: Mussel-Free Colorado Act SIGNED
HB18-1123: Conservation Easement Tax Credit Time Out KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB18-1157: Increased Reporting Oil and Gas Incidents KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB18-1194: Conservation Easement Transparency KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB18-1215: Safe Disposal Naturally Occur Radioactive Material KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB18-1270: Public Utilities Commission Evaluation of Energy Storage Systems SIGNED
HB18-1271: Public Utilities Commission Electric Utilities Economic Development Rates SIGNED
HB18-1289: Exempt Local Government School Districts Forced Pooling KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB18-1301: Protect Water Quality Adverse Mining Impacts KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

MINOR

HB18-1080: Climate Leadership Awards Program KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB18-1122: Accounting of Conservation Easements in the State KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB18-1216: Youth Shooting Light Geese Hunting Permit KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB18-1281: Public Utilities Commission Ethics and Improved Public Information Reporting KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB18-1345: Electric Transmission Lines Right of First Refusal KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB18-1382: Create Energy Legislation Review Committee KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB18-1387: Eliminate Oil & Gas Abatement Refund Interest KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB18-1400: Increase Fees Stationary Sources Air Pollutants SIGNED
HB18-1419: Oil Gas Operators Disclosures Wellhead Integrity KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
HB18-1428: Authorize Utility Community Collaboration Contract KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

HB18-1008: Mussel-Free Colorado Act

Asks the federal government for help in preventing nuisance aquatic species in federal waters within the state. Adds an aquatic nuisance stamp for boats ($25 for residents, $50 for out-of-state), as well as fines for using boats without the stamp. All of this money goes toward combating nuisance aquatic species.

SIGNED

Pros

Aquatic nuisance species have devastating economic, environmental, and social impacts on Colorado waters. Recreational vehicles are a significant source of the spread of these species. So it makes sense to charge those operating these vehicles in order to generate funds to combat these species, instead of creating some sort of intricate system to check or monitor boats in order to hone in on those responsible.

Cons

These fees hit responsible recreational boat owners and irresponsible alike. The state should fund its efforts through those who are causing the problem.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1008

HB18-1071: Regulate Oil Gas Operations Protect Public Safety

The law currently states that oil and gas operations must be consistent with protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources. Courts have ruled that development is not balanced with these things, but that development must be consistent with protecting these things.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

This is not mere rhetoric. If you think about it in terms of balancing, then you are inevitably weighing damage to one side (usually the environment and public health) versus development to the other (oil and gas). This change, already court approved, means that the state will operate to try to prevent damage entirely, not “balance” it out.

Cons

This is a sneak attack on one of Colorado’s biggest economic drivers: the oil and gas industry. The industry is already heavily regulated, including regulations to protect public health and the environment. Balancing these needs is crucial, after all any attempt to extract oil or gas is going to run a risk of environmental damage. But we have developed safety rules and regulations to mitigate this risk and the balance achieved here has worked for Colorado. This bill is about undoing that balance and putting oil and gas development at a severe disadvantage, which will cause economic damage to the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1071

HB18-1080: Climate Leadership Awards Program

Creates climate leadership awards to be granted by the state’s climate change position.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Acknowledging those who are helping in the fight against climate change serves multiple purposes. First, it drives awareness of potential solutions so that other may benefit. Second, it drives awareness of climate change itself, which unfortunately is still needed. Third, it rewards those who are helping to try to save us from the worst effects of climate change. No state money is appropriated here.

Cons

This just perpetuates the climate change myth and wastes the time and energies of people on the state payroll. While the bill appropriates no funds, it does leave the door open for gifts, grants, or donations from public sources.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1080

HB18-1122: Accounting of Conservation Easements in the State

There is currently no centralized source of public information for conservation easements (where a landowner agrees to limit use of their land in perpetuity to protect one or more conservation purposes). This bill requires a comprehensive audit of all the easements created in the state since 1998.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Getting an easement comes along with a state income tax credit for the property. We need to know what all of these easements are, what they are for, and who is benefiting from them. Circumstances may have changed in 20 years and some of these easements may no longer be necessary.

Cons

It’s not like there isn’t already a thorough process for creating an easement, if the concern is about fraud. This is just an attempt to relitigate past easements that have a positive effect on our environment.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1122

HB18-1123: Conservation Easement Tax Credit Time Out

Puts a three year moratorium on the state income tax credit that comes from a conservation easement (where a landowner agrees to limit use of their land in perpetuity to protect one or more conservation purposes).

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

We need this moratorium while we figure out what’s going on with these easements. There is no centralized source of public information on them and another bill in the current session creates an audit to examine them.

Cons

This is unfair to taxpayers, who have done nothing wrong and do not deserve to lose their tax break while a perfectly legal process that isn’t harming anyone (and in fact helping our environment) is put through the wringer.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1123

HB18-1150: Local Government Liable Fracking Ban Oil and Gas Moratorium

Makes any local government that bans fracking liable for the oil and gas owner for the value of the untapped minerals and any local government that puts a moratorium on any oil and gas activities must compensate operators for all costs, damages, and loss of market value associated with the moratorium.

*This bill has been assigned to the House’s “kill” committee, state affairs*

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Oil and gas development is critical to the state’s economy and is therefore an activity that needs to be regulated at the state level. We cannot allow local NIMBYism to derail the economy of the entire state but unfortunately that is exactly what we are starting to see. This bill makes sure that we get the economic activity either way: if the local government doesn’t want it to happen with fracking then they can pay the difference to keep the state’s economy humming.

Cons

Local governments have the ability to decide what kinds of dangerous industrial activities they want in their areas. This is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent local authority by making it impossible to ban fracking or any other oil and gas activity by making it prohibitively expensive. No local government could possibly be expected to reimburse and oil and gas company it the amounts they would require. And what other industry operates this way? Let us work in your area or pay the amount we’ll lose. Completely un-American.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1150

HB18-1157: Increased Reporting Oil and Gas Incidents

Requires oil and gas companies to file written reports with the state’s commission and other affected stakeholders for every major and minor reportable event. Major events also require oral notice. Reportable events are spills, unauthorized flaring, venting, or wasting, fires, accidents, blowouts, or uncontrolled gas releases. The severity of the problem dictates whether it is major or minor. The commission will report these incidents on its website in a searchable database.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

The sad truth is that we cannot trust the oil and gas industry to honestly self-report all incidents, not just the huge ones that are obvious. Without a central database, we also don’t have an easily accessible public record of these events, which can provide the public with insights into the safety records of various companies. As the fatal explosion last year in Firestone proved once again, this is a potentially deadly situation.

Cons

Oil and gas companies already report their incidents and are already heavily regulated. Tragic accidents should not be used an excuse to try to drive the companies, which are critical to the economic health of Colorado, out of business. These reports represent a slippery slope toward bringing a heavier hammer down on oil and gas companies.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1157

HB18-1194: Conservation Easement Transparency

Freezes the application fee for state income tax credits for a conservation easement on private property. Requires the local government where the easement will be located to hold a public hearing prior to any action dealing with an easement. Limits easements to 20 year terms instead of the current indefinite one. Allows landowner to transfer or extinguish easement if they become insolvent, dissolve, are delinquent or otherwise fail to live up to the purpose of the easement.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

The easement process needs some more guardrails. Giving out tax breaks in perpetuity without public input the way we do now is not sufficient. Approximately 14-18% of all easements created in the state have been disallowed: the appraised value is almost always lower than initial amount provided to the landowner and the easement itself makes it more difficult for the owner to sell the property or secure financing related to the property. Worse, the easement binds all future owners as well. Slowing the process down and opening it up more, as well as giving an out later, should improve the entire thing. It does no one any good to have an easement that isn’t being treated correctly by the property owner.

Cons

Making easements in 20 year increments makes the entire process more complicated, since we’ll have to go through the entire process (even if it is somewhat streamlined for renewals) every 20 years. Another way of looking at the easement statistic is that approximately 82-86% of all easements in the state have been fine, there’s no reason to mess with a process that is working in its intent to protect our environment.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1194

HB18-1215: Safe Disposal Naturally Occur Radioactive Material

Current law does not allow the state to adopt rules for the disposal of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) unless the federal government does first. This bill removes that requirement and requires the state to adopt rules for both NORM and technologically enhanced NORM. These materials generally are brought to the surface through oil and gas exploration and mining operations.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

These materials can cause bone cancers from prolonged exposure and can cause other damage as well. We cannot wait for the federal government to get its act together on this, with the large amount of oil and gas activity in the state we need to protect our citizens now. Many other states already do this, including so-called red states like North Dakota and West Virginia.

Cons

The EPA has not acted yet on this, so there is no need for the state to get out in front. There are already regulations for radiation that companies must follow and those are sufficient until we get more guidance from the federal government.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1215

HB18-1216: Youth Shooting Light Geese Hunting Permit

Creates a special permit for youth to hunt geese on private land as members of a youth shooting sports organization.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

If private land owners want to allow people to hunt geese on their land, the state should let them. This is a win-win situation where youth shooting sports get places to hunt as well.

Cons

The state should not be in the business of supporting youth shooting organizations. What people want to do with their own children is their business, but the recent shooting in Florida shows the dangers of training children in shooting guns. These organizations have the right to exist but the state of Colorado doesn’t need to be involved.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1216

HB18-1270: Public Utilities Commission Evaluation of Energy Storage Systems

Directs state public utilities commission to adopt rules for investor-owned electric utilities to procure energy storage systems.

SIGNED

Pros

Energy storage is the future. It provides the ability to mitigate peak usage times, increase efficiency of weather-dependent energy sources like solar and wind, and reduce costs overall. We need some rules to guide the state’s regulatable utilities in this process to make sure that any storage purchases will actually achieve our goals and not waste money.

Cons

This is too much red tape for a decision these utilities can make without any outside help.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1270

HB18-1271: Public Utilities Commission Electric Utilities Economic Development Rates

Allows public utilities to charge economic development rates for commercial and industrial users who locate or expand their operations in the state so as to increase demand by at least 3 megawatts. Rates must be approved by public utilities commission and users must demonstrate that the cost of electricity is a critical part of their decision to locate or expand. Lower rates can be offered for up to 10 years. Bill also authorizes expansion of energy resources through renewable energy to meet the needs of a commercial or industrial customer that makes a capital investment of $250 million or more. Bans subsidizing lower rates by increasing rates on other customers.

SIGNED

Pros

Cost of electricity is an important consideration for larger private businesses, which can further stimulate economic growth in the state. It is therefore in everyone’s best interest to give these incentives to businesses for which it is truly an important part of their decision-making process.

Cons

Large private businesses already get plenty of corporate welfare to locate themselves here and we don’t need to add to the pie. Furthermore, the process around deciding if the cost of electricity is “critical” is vague and therefore open to abuse. We may end up giving these large companies extra money for a decision they would have made anyway.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1271

HB18-1274: Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050

Requires that by 2050 statewide greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by at least 80% of the levels in 2005.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Scientists have estimated that we must stop virtually all fossil fuel burning by 2050 to avoid the full devastating impacts of climate change. Climate change is real and it is happening. We keep piling up record highs and collecting top 5 record warmest years. We have seen increased flooding in coastal areas and more dangerous storms (how many 100 year weather events can we have in the space of a few years?) The entire world agrees, renewable energy is the future and Colorado is uniquely positioned to capitalize. Solar and wind are in abundance in this state, and high standards push us toward creating the green jobs of the future, not the dirty jobs of the past. Putting this into law makes it a target the state has to try to hit, which will spur efforts from public and private entities to make it happen. We cannot predict what green technologies will look like in ten years, but we can say where we want to be in 30 years: still living on a planet where Miami is a viable place to live.

Cons

This bill would be terrible for the Colorado economy, as it would doom non-renewable energy sources. That’s a lot of jobs that may not be so easily replaced by so-called green jobs. The oil is here, in Colorado. While it’s true that so are sun and wind, much more economic activity can be derived from extracting oil and gas than putting up solar panels and wind turbines. The way to the future is an all of the above energy plan, which is exactly what the state is currently doing. This bill lacks mechanisms. Declaring the goal is all well and good but there’s no teeth here to make it happen.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1274

 

HB18-1281: Public Utilities Commission Ethics and Improved Public Information Reporting

Adds some requirements for eligibility for the public utilities commission. Must not have served, within the previous four years, as an officer or director of an entity subject to regulation by the commission. Must not acquire or hold any official relation to, or have a financial interest in, any entity regulated by the commission.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

This is just common-sense good governance. You cannot have an independent regulatory commission if the regulators stand to gain or lose based on their decisions.

Cons

This disqualifies too many people for the position. Most often the people who are best equipped to regulate an industry served in it, which gives them a far deeper understanding than someone who has not. A lot can change even in just four years.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1281

HB18-1289: Exempt Local Government School Districts Forced Pooling

Currently the law allows for forced pooling (combining together small tracts to create enough acreage to receive a drilling permit) by which any interested person (usually an oil-and-gas operator) can apply to the state’s board for an order to pool and develop resources within an already identified unit without the mineral holder’s consent (they are compensated but at a lower amount that voluntary poolers). This bill exempts local governments and school districts that own mineral rights from forced pooling but maintains their ability to engage in voluntary pooling.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

We don’t want schools having oil extracted from underneath their property without their consent. Private eminent domain should not be able to be used against the government. It is really that simple.

Cons

Forced pooling enables oil and gas operators to extract resources without building wells in a checkboard pattern across the deposit area. This benefits everyone, as there are fewer wells and less disruption. Making chunks of land off-limits to the practice will result in more wells and higher costs, which will get passed on to Colorado consumers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1289

HB18-1297: Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency

By 2025 sets a goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 26% compared to 2005 by 2025 and carbon dioxide from electrical generation by 25% compared to 2012 by 2025 and 30% by 2030. Also sets up a program to create a model for the effects of climate change on Colorado and the effect these reductions would have on the model.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

Scientists have estimated that we must stop virtually all fossil fuel burning by 2050 to avoid the full devastating impacts of climate change. Climate change is real and it is happening. We keep piling up record highs and collecting top 5 record warmest years. We have seen increased flooding in coastal areas and more dangerous storms (how many 100 year weather events can we have in the space of a few years?) The entire world agrees, renewable energy is the future and Colorado is uniquely positioned to capitalize. Solar and wind are in abundance in this state, and high standards push us toward creating the green jobs of the future, not the dirty jobs of the past. Putting this into law makes it a target the state has to try to hit, which will spur efforts from public and private entities to make it happen. We cannot predict what green technologies will look like in ten years, but we can say where we want to be in 30 years: still living on a planet where Miami is a viable place to live. Creating a model will give us a real way to examine what effect various changes would have.

Cons

This bill would be terrible for the Colorado economy, as it would doom non-renewable energy sources. That’s a lot of jobs that may not be so easily replaced by so-called green jobs. The oil is here, in Colorado. While it’s true that so are sun and wind, much more economic activity can be derived from extracting oil and gas than putting up solar panels and wind turbines. The way to the future is an all of the above energy plan, which is exactly what the state is currently doing. This bill lacks mechanisms. Declaring the goal is all well and good but there’s no teeth here to make it happen.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1297

HB18-1301: Protect Water Quality Adverse Mining Impacts

Currently, mining operations are able to use endless water treatment as a valid option for mitigating impacts of mining on water quality. This bill requires reclamation plans to have an end date where no further treatment is required to maintain water quality. Miners are also able to present their own financial statements as proof of the ability meet its reclamation requirements instead of a bond or other outside financial assurance. This bill eliminates this self-bonding option.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

The state currently oversees water treatment plants designed to run in perpetuity to reduce water contamination. The annual cost of just one of these, along the Alamosa River, is expected to reach $2.2 million in 2022. A recent study showed that Colorado was 4th in the nation for higher than permitted releases of containments into water. This bill is just a small step in addressing this problem, by making sure we don’t make it worse in the future. As for self-bonding, Colorado is now only one of 7 states nationwide that allows this sort of self-dealing. The entire point of a bond is to provide assurance that if something happens to the company, the public and the environment is still protected.

Cons

This would make it much more difficult to conduct mining operations in the state, harming the overall economy and potentially costing some people their jobs. It is just not reasonable to expect mining operations to be able to meet the end date standard required by the bill, so in effect the bill would make it extraordinarily difficult to open any new mines at all.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1301

HB18-1345: Electric Transmission Lines Right of First Refusal

Gives incumbent electricity utility that owns the existing transmission facilities up to 180 days to given written notice that they intend to build, own, and maintain newly approved electricity lines. If they do not respond within 180 days or decline, they surrender their right of first refusal.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Those who already control the facilities are in a much better position to serve new lines. It will be cheaper and more efficient. But they cannot be allowed to sit on those facilities if they don't want to build the approved lines.

Cons

This would force these utilities to let others use their transmission facilities for these new lines, with all of the potentially resulting problems.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1345

HB18-1352: Oil and Gas Facilities Distance From School Property

Clarifies that the 1,000 foot distance requirement for oil and gas company operations from a school refers to the school property line, not a school building. Also clarifies that the restriction does not apply if the school begins operations within the 1,000 foot distance of already existing facilities, unless the property is already owned by a school district and building is planned within five years.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

The legislature has already wisely decided that we don’t want dangerous oil and gas operations too close to children at school, but we need to further clarify that this means children at school period, not just the school buildings. Most schools are nearly surrounded by green space for children to play in, that space needs to count too.

Cons

This is not a “clarification” it is changing the boundary by pushing it farther out. A school means the school itself, not however much space is around the building. Limits operations like this will hurt the Colorado economy by making it more difficult for oil and gas developers, one the prime drivers of our state’s success.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1352

HB18-1382: Create Energy Legislation Review Committee

Creates an energy legislation review committee to study energy development, energy supply, grid security, and transmission planning.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Energy is critically important to the state, both its present economic health and its future economic and environmental health. We need concrete plans to move away from fossil fuels, while not disrupting our economy, to the abundant wind and solar this state receives.

Cons

A committee isn’t going to solve the fundamentally irreconcilable differences between Democrats and Republicans on energy. Democrats want to move away from fossil fuels and greatly limit their environmental impact. Republicans don’t. That is why there is so little bipartisan agreement on so few bills passed in this area. The status quo will reign until one party or the other seizes full control of the state government.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1382

HB18-1387: Eliminate Oil & Gas Abatement Refund Interest

Currently erroneous property taxes on mineral and gas leaseholds and lands entitle the taxpayer to not only a refund, but also a 1% interest payment for each month from when the taxpayer protested, unless it came from an error made by the taxpayer in their paperwork. This bill extends the exception to also include errors made by the oil and gas owner or operator statement.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

The idea behind the exception is that no interest should be due when it is not the government’s fault because they were given incorrect information. The oil and gas owner or operator statement is another place where this error can seep in, and once it again it would not be the government’s fault since it was given faulty information.

Cons

It also is not the taxpayer’s fault, they were merely passing along what they were given. Part of the point of the interest is that the taxpayer has been forced to loan the government the erroneous amount and is due compensation for that time they did not have the money themselves. If it was the taxpayer’s fault, then sure, makes sense not to compensate them for the “loan”. But if it wasn’t, it doesn’t matter that the government didn’t make the error, the taxpayer still needs to be made whole.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1387

HB18-1400: Increase Fees Stationary Sources Air Pollutants

Increases the caps on fees for stationary air pollutants and sets future increases to inflation. The Air Quality Control Commission sets the actual fees below the caps as needed to comply with TABOR.

SIGNED

Pros

This is a bipartisan effort to simply keep up with inflation and all increases are prioritized toward reducing permit processing times.

Cons

The department is managing to function on its current fees and so should continue to do so.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1400

HB18-1419: Oil Gas Operators Disclosures Wellhead Integrity

Requires oil and gas commission to create rules to ensure proper wellhead integrity of all oil and gas production wells. Requires each oil and gas operator to give electronic notice of the location of each flow line and gathering pipeline installed, owned, or operator to the commission and each local government where the subsurface facility is located. Also requires operators to share their development plans with municipalities within whose jurisdictions the proposed operations will occur.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

Current law doesn’t require oil and gas companies to disclose the locations of their pipelines, which pose an obvious public safety risk, to disclose their development plans to the counties in which they reside, or to implement best practices regarding wellhead integrity.

Cons

This is an unreasonable burden on oil and gas companies who are already heavily regulated. Having to share all of their development plans gives local communities more ability to marshal forces against them and is not something that you see in other industries.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1419

HB18-1428: Authorize Utility Community Collaboration Contract

Allows the government of a city, town, county or city and county to enter into an innovation agreement with an investor-owned utility, subject to approval by the public utilities commission. The agreement must promote at least one of: innovation, economic development, increased use of eligible energy resources, or other energy related goals within the community and cannot interfere with the reliability or safety of the energy service and cannot impose additional costs on communities outside of the agreement community.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

This allows communities to create innovative energy solutions that may become models for wider adoption. By placing it on the community level, the bill ensures that communities are able to mold their energy desires in the direction the community wants.

Cons

A patchwork quilt of energy policy in the state may be both confusing and counter-productive for nearly everyone: utilities, energy companies, consumers, and environmentalists. In addition, this may open the door for some communities to resist going to cleaner energy sources in the name of economic development and thus cause general harm to the environment of the entire state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1428

SB18-003: Colorado Energy Office

Removes some of the clean energy elements of the Colorado Energy Office: wind for schools grant, energy and energy efficiency for schools loans, integration with forest service to support woody bio-mass in bio-heating, office involvement in grants with Colorado Energy Institute, renames clean and renewable energy fund as just energy fund, adds authority to spend money out of the fund on educating public, removes requirement that money in innovative energy fund be directed toward innovative energy efficiency projects and policy, repeals green building incentive pilot program, removes some responsibility for solar installation oversight, and a few other small things. It also specifies nuclear and hydroelectric power as clean energy sources the office should promote and adds that the director of the office must receive Senate approval.

SIGNED

Pros

The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the private sector. This bills removes the thumb on the scale for wind and solar in this office and keeps the government from discriminating against other oil and natural gas sources, some of which are critical to the Colorado economy. It also gives people the freedom to make their own energy choices. The programs removed were never used.

Cons

Climate change is real and getting worse, this bill hurts the ability of the Colorado Energy Office to help encourage energy sources that do not worsen climate change and the environment. The oil and gas industry is doing just fine in Colorado right now with the Office as is, these changes will only harm our efforts to move toward a cleaner future where we avoid the most severe impacts of climate change.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-003

SB18-009: Allow Electric Utility Customers Install Energy Storage Equipment

Gives electricity consumers the right to install, interconnect, and use electricity storage systems on their property without unfair or discriminatory rates or fees.

SIGNED

Pros

Technology continues to advance in the area of energy storage but Colorado residents aren’t able to take advantage of it. Being able to store the energy you are not using now to use later will benefit everyone: smooth out peaks and valleys in demand, offsetting the need for expensive additional facilities or power purchases during peak times and facilitate usage of variable energy sources like wind and solar. Store up and save the power when it’s sunny to use when it’s not.

Cons

This bill places unreasonable burdens on utility companies, who will have to ensure that a wide variety of devices can connect properly to their grid, without allowing the companies to charge what they believe is appropriate for this service. It may also lead to higher utilities pricing, as companies lose electricity served to some customers they may charge others more.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-009

SB18-045: Repeal Architectural Paint Stewardship Act

Repeals architectural paint stewardship act which requires paint producers to create programs for recycling paint.

KILLED IN SENATE

Pros

These programs are funded by passing on the cost to the consumer and are unnecessary government regulation. They also represent a government sanctioned monopoly, as the law is setup to favor only one provider of this service.

Cons

Paint disposal in landfills creates environmental and public health problems. One gallon of improperly disposed paint has the ability to pollute up to 250,000 gallons of water. When this bill was passed in 2014 it was estimated that 10% of all new architectural paint sold in the US goes unused. The fees are small, maximum of $1.60 for 1 to 5 gallons much less than what anyone who wanted to recycle paint had to pay previously, and a small price to pay for a clean environment.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-045

SB18-048: Protect Act Local Government Authority Oil & Gas Facilities

Current law only gives local governments powers over oil and gas extraction if the state oil and gas conservation commission has designated the area as a place of state interest. This bill repeals that limitation and gives local governments authority to regulate these facilities through their existing land use authority. Bill also allows governing body of municipality and board of county commissioners to zone out oil and gas operations.

*This legislation has been sent to the Senate “Kill” committee, State Affairs*

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

Local governments routinely use their authority to regulate industrial activity and oil and gas production is among the most dangerous industrial activities on the planet. Local communities should be given the opportunity to choose for themselves if they want these dangerous activities taking place in their community.

Cons

Oil and gas production is a vital interest to the economic well-being of Colorado and of the nation. It is already heavily regulated by the state. Allowing Not In My Backyard interests to prevent these facilities from operating will cause harm to the entire state, so the entire state must be the entity that ultimately decides.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-048

SB18-063: Oil Gas Higher Financial Assurance Reclamation Requirements

Adds “clear and convincing” evidence standard to the financial assurance oil and gas companies are obligated to make to the state that the companies have enough financial resources to fulfill any obligations for complying with state regulations. The bill also adds a simple formula for the state board to use to calculate the financial assurance required (number of facilities times projected cost of every foreseeable eventuality). Finally, it adds reclamation language that mimics the requirements for hard rock mines.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

We need to make sure that before any oil and gas project is undertaken, the company doing it has the ability to cover potential expenses from things as mundane as regular safety and environmental compliance to the potentially more damaging mishaps that can occur and cause damage to the environment and our citizens. The previous standard was too lax, this brings Colorado up to the standards of many other states in the country. Reclamation is another huge problem, as current law gives no timetable and requires no plan for reclamation prior to activity. This bill fixes both of these problems with rules that have served another high-impact industry. The highly profitable oil and gas industry should have no problem adhering to these new standards.

Cons

This bill makes it much harder for oil and gas companies, which are critical to Colorado’s economy, to operate in the state. Much more onerous financial requirements and post-activity reclamation requirements will mean fewer projects which will mean fewer jobs.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-063

SB18-064: Require 100% Renewable Energy By 2035

Updates the state’s renewable energy standard, which currently both excludes municipality owned utilities serving populations under 40,000 and tops out at 30% of electricity coming from renewable sources in 2020 (we’ve already passed the 20% threshold in 2016 and hit 24% last year). This bill keeps the 30% threshold until 2029, at which point it jumps to 70% until 2035, when fully 100% of the state’s energy must come from renewable sources. Coops get a slightly easier road, with lower percentages, but must still hit 100% in 2035. The bill also provides a ramp-down of renewable energy credits that zeros out in 2035.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

Climate change is real and it is happening. We keep piling up record highs and collecting top 5 record warmest years. We have seen increased flooding in coastal areas and more dangerous storms (how many 100 year weather events can we have in the space of a few years?) The entire world agrees, renewable energy is the future and Colorado is uniquely positioned to capitalize. Solar and wind are in abundance in this state, and high standards push us toward creating the green jobs of the future, not the dirty jobs of the past. Technology continues to push prices down, and will continue to do so in the future. Companies ranging from Apple, Google and Facebook to General Motors, Johnson & Johnson and Coca Cola have already committed to going 100% renewable. So have cities like Rochester, Minn., San Diego, Georgetown, Texas, St. Petersburg, Fla., Greensburg, Kan., and Burlington, Vt. And so have universities from Colorado State University to Cornell. In many states, wind is already cheaper than gas or coal. Xcel energy just issued the results of its request for services, with median bids for wind+storage and solar+storage both cheaper than coal. The median bid for solar+storage was the cheapest EVER. That’s the middle bid, not the lowest. Scientists have estimated that we must stop virtually all fossil fuel burning by 2050 to avoid the full devastating impacts of climate change. We are already bumping toward our previously determined requirement for renewable energy, now is the time to make the big push, our moon shot, toward a better future for our children.

Cons

This bill would be terrible for the Colorado economy, as it would doom non-renewable energy sources. That’s a lot of jobs that may not be so easily replaced by so-called green jobs. The oil is here, in Colorado. While it’s true that so are sun and wind, much more economic activity can be derived from extracting oil and gas than putting up solar panels and wind turbines. The way to the future is an all of the above energy plan, which is exactly what the state is currently doing. This notion of moving from 30% to 70% in nine years is foolish, perhaps only outdone by the notion of moving from 70% to 100% in six years, or from 30% to 100% in just 15 years. Even proponents of this bill acknowledge that the technology to make this happen does not exist. And no other state in the country has 100% for a future target. For good reason, because it could cause energy costs to skyrocket, as everyone scrambles to build the technology required to make this happen.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-064

SB18-117: Collect Long-Term Climate Change Data

Sets up an, at minimum, biannual greenhouse gas emissions report that largely mimics the current, executive mandated report due out in 2019 and 2024.

*This bill has been assigned to the Senate’s “kill” committee, state affairs*

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

Measuring every five years, as we are set to do, is not enough to combat the crisis that is climate change. This bill makes the measurements more frequent so that we can reach our greenhouse gas reduction goals, which everyone wants: we all want cleaner air for Colorado.

Cons

This is an unnecessary waste of resources, both state and private, to create a report every two years instead of the already set in place five.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-117

SB18-184: Permit Short-Term Extraction Construction Material

Creates a new class of construction materials permit for one-time activities that produce construction material as a by-product and are not intended to be ongoing mining operations (must also be incidental the intent of the project). Limited to twelve months of production, if a company goes over twelve months they have to convert to the appropriate regular construction license.

SIGNED

Pros

There is no reason to put companies in this situation into the more onerous process required by the stricter licenses. They are still required to protect the environment and must be done with land reclamation within the twelve month window. This just fills a gap in our existing licensure structure.

Cons

Ongoing or not, any operation that deals with taking things out of the earth needs to be held to higher standards, not lower.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-184

SB18-192: Local Government Liable Fracking Ban Oil and Gas Moratorium

Makes any local government that bans fracking liable for the oil and gas owner for the value of the untapped minerals and any local government that puts a moratorium on any oil and gas activities must compensate operators for all costs, damages, and loss of market value associated with the moratorium.

*This bill is essentially identical to HB18-1170*

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

Oil and gas development is critical to the state’s economy and is therefore an activity that needs to be regulated at the state level. We cannot allow local NIMBYism to derail the economy of the entire state but unfortunately that is exactly what we are starting to see. This bill makes sure that we get the economic activity either way: if the local government doesn’t want it to happen with fracking then they can pay the difference to keep the state’s economy humming.

Cons

Local governments have the ability to decide what kinds of dangerous industrial activities they want in their areas. This is nothing more than an attempt to circumvent local authority by making it impossible to ban fracking or any other oil and gas activity by making it prohibitively expensive. No local government could possibly be expected to reimburse and oil and gas company it the amounts they would require. And what other industry operates this way? Let us work in your area or pay the amount we’ll lose. Completely un-American.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-192

SB18-226: Prohibit Colorado Involvement Climate Alliance

Prohibits the state from participating in any state-level collaboration that attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or otherwise promote the goals of the Paris Climate agreement.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

These programs target fossil fuel industries, which are a big driver of Colorado’s economy. They therefore would be detrimental to our state and we should not participate.

Cons

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions is good. This remains true even if you deny the fact that climate change is real. Because it is real, it is one of the most important challenges of our time and entering into these collaborations helps save our way of life for our children and our grandchildren. As for the economic impact, the impacts of climate change are far greater: drought, violent weather, rising sea levels. Even the third one will impact Colorado: any federal action taken to combat it will involve our tax dollars at work.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-226

SB18-230: Modify Laws Drilling Units Pooling Orders

Clarifies that forced pooling under current law can authorize more than one well. Makes nonconsenting owners immune from liability from oil and gas operations involving their pool. Increases the amount nonconsenting owners must pay for wells greater than 5,000 feet from 200% of the costs to 300% (comes out of profits, basically the nonconsenting owners get less of the revenue of the pool).

SIGNED

Pros

Nonconsenting owners of course should be immune from liability, as this is all being done against their wishes. Just as clearly, if multiple wells are required to get at the pool, then multiple wells should be authorized. It is also more expensive to do operations in deeper wells and nonconsenting owners should not be rewarded for their nonparticipation, which may be what is causing the deeper well requirement.

Cons

This makes a bad situation worse. The fig leaf of immunity is not enough to cover opening up wells all over the place and taking even more money from nonconsenting owners to line the pockets of the oil and gas companies.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-230

SB18-245: Allow Natural Occurring Radioactive Material Rules

Repeals the prohibition on the state developing rules for the disposal of naturally occurring radioactive materials only after the EPA adopts rules. Unlike HB18-1215, the bill does not mandate the state adopt rules.

SIGNED

Pros

These materials can cause bone cancers from prolonged exposure and can cause other damage as well. We cannot wait for the federal government to get its act together on this, with the large amount of oil and gas activity in the state we need green light protection for our citizens now. Many other states already do this, including so-called red states like North Dakota and West Virginia. This bill differs from the House variant in the crucial area that it doesn't force the regulations.

Cons

The EPA has not acted yet on this, so there is no need for the state to get out in front. There are already regulations for radiation that companies must follow and those are sufficient until we get more guidance from the federal government.

SB18-246: Renewable Energy Standard Repeal Senate Bill 13-252

Largely repeals SB 13-152. Repeals the requirement from a 2013 bill for increasing renewable energy for cooperative electric associations serving 100,000 or more meters from 10% to 20%. Reduces maximum permissible retail rate increase due to compliance with bill from 2% to 1%. Also removes synthetic gas produced by pyrolysis of municipal waste as an eligible resource but adds large and preexisting hydroelectric facilities. Eliminates the reporting and renewable energy credit requirements for wholesale utilities.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

This is all about helping keep consumer electricity bills down. Any transitions to renewable energy standards should not be done at consumer expense. We have abundant oil and gas energy in this state which helps fuel our economy. We should not turn our backs on it.

Cons

Climate change is real and it is happening. We keep piling up record highs and collecting top 5 record warmest years. We have seen increased flooding in coastal areas and more dangerous storms (how many 100 year weather events can we have in the space of a few years?) The entire world agrees, renewable energy is the future and Colorado is uniquely positioned to capitalize. Solar and wind are in abundance in this state, and high standards push us toward creating the green jobs of the future, not the dirty jobs of the past. Technology continues to push prices down, and will continue to do so in the future. The last thing we need to do is remove already existing clean energy goals, we need more of them, not less.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-246

SB18-256: Leases Public Lands State Board Land Commissioners

Allows lessees of public lands to assign their lease to another party so long as they notify the state board of land commissioners. The board may charge a fee but only to recoup costs of processing the assignment. The bill also eliminates the requirement that an applicant for a lease give evidence of their responsibility to fulfill the terms of the lease. Also prohibits the board from requiring reporting of yields, production, income, expenses, or other data related to the use of leased or private lands.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

This is something that the board already allows in practice so the bill merely codifies it into law while making the process unintrusive, the government doesn't have the right to know every little thing about you and your business. As for the payments, if you can't make the payments the land gets taken away, there isn't much downside risk at all to not asking for assurances.

Cons

When we lease out very valuable things, we require proof that the person leasing it can pay. This is a principle that cuts across all sorts of businesses and should apply to entrusting public lands to someone else. The fact that these are public lands also means we have the right to know to allow or disallow a third party to come in and use them. Otherwise it would be easy to set up multiple corporate entities and have an approved entity obtain a lease with the full intent of assigning to another entity that may not have been able to gain approval.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-256

SB18-275: Evaluate Prerequisites Seaplane Operation in Colorado

Currently it is essentially illegal to land a seaplane in a state park (or take off). This bill directs the division of parks and wildlife to create a procedure for the inspection and decontamination of seaplanes to prevent aquatic nuisance species spread and create a stakeholder process to evaluate access to two state park lakes. All must be reported back to the general assembly. The law also stipulates that a seaplane can land in a state park in an emergency, which includes seaplanes engaged in firefighting operations.

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Pros

The obvious problem with seaplanes in our parks is that we don’t want to contaminate the water, so let’s figure out how to decontaminate the planes. Then we can see if the proposed solution is workable and if access to the lakes is workable and make an informed decision.

Cons

It’s about more than just water, planes are noisy and disruptive. If we don’t want seaplanes operating in our state parks for that reason, then there’s no need to waste anyone’s time.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-275