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!).

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 combatting nuisance aquatic species.

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.

PASSED HOUSE

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.

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).

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*

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

SB18-003: Colorado Energy Office

Removes much 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.

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.

Cons

Climate change is real and getting worse, this bill guts 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.

PASSED SENATE

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.

Pros

These programs are funded by passing on the cost to the consumer and are unnecessary government regulation.

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