These are all of the energy and environment bills proposed in the 2019 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, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about 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.
Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in . They are color-coded by party.
Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.
Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. 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!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.
Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:
HB19-1037: Colorado Energy Impact Assistance Act PASSED HOUSE AMENDED
HB19-1143: Distribute Plastic Straws Only Upon Request KILLED BY SPONSOR
HB19-1026: Parks and Wildlife Violations of Law PASSED HOUSE
HB19-1091: Conservation Easement Transparency KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1113: Protect Water Quality Adverse Mining Impacts PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE AMENDED
HB19-1003: Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB19-1159: Modify Innovative Motor Vehicle Income Tax Credits PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB19-1165: On-Site Wind Turbine Manufacturing Property Tax Exemption KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1188: Greenhouse Gas Pollution Impact in Fiscal Notes PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:
SB19-053: California Motor Vehicle Emission Standards KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-096: Collect Long-term Climate Change Data
SB19-181: Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations PASSED SENATE AND A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
SB19-054: Military Vehicle Motor Vehicle Regulation PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE HEAVILY AMENDED
HB19-1003 Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act [Hansen]
*This bill has been amended significantly*
PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE
Makes it easier to belong to a community solar garden and increases their maximum size to 5 10 megawatts. Community solar gardens are solar array with multiple subscribers who can purchase a portion of the power produced and receive a credit on their electric bill. They are designed for people who cannot host solar systems on their roofs. Adds requirements for solar gardens above 2 megawatts.
Changes the requirements for a community solar garden by increasing the maximum size to 5 10 megawatts (from 2) and removing the requirement that a subscriber’s physical location must be in the same county or in an adjacent county to the solar garden while retaining requirement that it must be within service territory of electric utility. Community solar gardens are solar array with multiple subscribers who can purchase a portion of the power produced and receive a credit on their electric bill. They are designed for people who cannot host solar systems on their roofs. Adds requirements for solar gardens above 2 megawatts, including all on-site electrical work subject to supervision by licensed master electrician, licensed journeyman electrician, or licensed residential wireman. A qualifying utility must use its own workers to operate and maintain equipment.
A recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory report finds that 49% of households and 48% of businesses are unable to host photovoltaic (PV) solar systems on their rooftops because they rent their spaces or have a lack of suitable owned roof space. Community solar addresses this issue and makes a clean energy option available to more people. The size restrictions in the current program are outdated and restricting users to the county or adjacent county where the energy is generated no longer reflects the reality of solar.
Someone who is located near the actual solar garden should not be treated the same way as someone who is across the state from it. Opening up the subscriber base to anyone in the same service area could cause more cost to actually get that solar energy to the end user from across the state.
HB19-1026 Parks and Wildlife Violations of Law (Coram, Donovan) [Catlin, McCluskie]
Doubles numerous fines for violating state hunting, fishing, and parks statutes and changes where the fine money goes in favor of more money going to the parks and wildlife division. If a parks and wildlife officer issues the citation all of the money goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division; if a peace officer issues the citation then ½ goes to the relevant parks and wildlife division and ½ to the agency of the peace officer.
These fines have not been increased since 2003 and are no longer sufficient to deter violations. The money from them will help the parks and wildlife division increase the number of hunters and fishers in the state and invest more money in state parks.
The raises are too high, doubling the amounts after 16 years of no changes is not appropriate. Draining some of this money from local law enforcement may hurt their budgets and may also incentivize their officers to put more focus than they should on catching people breaking these rules so that the local agency can still get ½ of the fine.
HB19-1037 Colorado Energy Impact Assistance Act [Hansen]
Authorizes any electric utility to apply to the public utilities commission to issue low-cost bonds to lower the cost to customers when a power plant is retired by refinancing the retiring plant. A portion of the bond proceeds will go to providing transition assistance to workers and communities affected by the closure.
Authorizes any electric utility to apply to the public utilities commission to issue low-cost bonds to lower the cost to customers when a power plant is retired. To lower the cost of the bonds, the commission is authorized to approve a special energy impact assistance charge on all customer bills (this allows the bonds to achieve at least an AA/Aa2 rating). A portion of the bond proceeds will go to providing transition assistance to workers and communities affected by the closure via a newly created Colorado energy impact assistance authority. Transition assistance includes payment of retraining costs (including apprenticeship programs and skilled worker retraining programs), direct financial assistance, compensation to local governments for lost tax revenue, and similar programs for areas that produced fuel used directly in the closed plant. At least 50% of the funds dispersed by the authority must go to workers, unless 15 or fewer employers are affected or the local advisory committee feels 50% would be excessive. In these cases the percentage is 30%. No money can go to a local government if that money would trigger a TABOR refund.
Before approving any bonds, the commission must hold a public hearing and make specific determinations concerning the necessity, prudence, justness, reasonableness, and quantifiable benefits to utility customers of issuing the bonds. The commission must include instructions on approved bonds for the bond amount, the imposition of the impact assistance charge, and the amount required from the utility for transition assistance.
Alternatively, if a utility needs to close a plant, it may transfer up to 15% of the net of the operational savings generated by the plant closure to the transition assistance authority.
Colorado’s electric utilities will continue to face the need to retire existing facilities to reduce rates and ensure the health and well-being of Colorado natural environment and residents. But the closure of these facilities may have a direct negative impact on communities where they are located and communities where fuel for them is produced. Colorado energy consumers are still footing the bill for plants that have long since been closed. The alternative financing bond mechanism this bill lays out is similar to what is currently used by more than 20 other states and will result in lower costs to consumers. Using this mechanism on one plant in Florida in 2013 is going to save customers there $700 million over 20 years. Using them can ensure that both the costs of retiring electric generating facilities and the transition costs for affected communities can be financed in a way that reduces the total cost of customer rates. The way to our clean energy future runs through transitioning our communities and our electric utilities. Electricity is now frequently cheaper from renewables than from aging coal-fired plants. This bill is the best way to navigate that tricky road. Xcel has already announced the closure of two coal plants ahead of schedule. The clock is ticking.
While well-intentioned, this bill provides positive incentives for utilities to close down plants early (and we are really talking about coal plants here) and could be devastating to both the communities where the plants are located as well as the coal producing areas of the state, beyond the ability of transition assistance funds to meet. Retraining is not some sort of magic bullet for communities that rely on these industries, there is some harm that you can’t spend your way out of.
HB19-1091 Conservation Easement Transparency [Lewis]
KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
Requires the county clerk and recorder to submit a complete copy of any conservation easement agreement, amendment, or transfer to the state commissioner of agriculture and the county tax assessor. The commissioner must then make a tracking form. All forms to be available on a public part of its website. Commissioner must also create a database for all easements in the state since 1997 and keep it updated going forward. Allows property owners to remove easements that have had any tax credits associated with them disallowed. If the owner does this, state must reimburse them for all reasonable costs associated with creating easement as well as any tax liability.
Requires the county clerk and recorder to submit a complete copy of any conservation easement agreement, amendment, or transfer to the state commissioner of agriculture and the county tax assessor. The commissioner must then make a tracking form, including at a minimum the date of the agreement, names and addresses of the grantor and grantee, legal description of property, number of acres being conserved, conservation purpose of easement, and reception number for easement. All forms to be available on a public part of its website. Commissioner must also create a database for all easements in the state since 1997 and keep it updated going forward. Database to include, to extent possible, location and acreage of each easement, names and addresses of grantors and names and addresses of any holders of easement since its creation, if the holder is a certified organization, conservation purposes of easement, any deeds, contracts, or other instruments affecting the easement, and the amount of tax credits claimed for the easement and amount of those credits transferred to another taxpayer. Database must have mapping ability and corresponding map displaying all easements. Allows property owners to remove easements that have had any tax credits associated with them disallowed. If the owner does this, state must reimburse them for all reasonable costs associated with creating easement as well as any tax liability.
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. We desperately need more transparency into the process statewide to make sure that anyone buying a property knows what they are getting into, not just with an easement but also its history of tax credits. The current owner can be held liable for the improper actions of a previous owner: the liability is four years after the credit was first claimed, regardless of any transfer of property in the interim. The existing national conservation easement database is not an official government project but a public-private one funded by grants and estimates that it has 25% of the easements in Colorado held by public entities and 73% of those held by non-profits in its database. Not good enough.
This is a massive amount of work for very little payoff: there is already a national conservation easement database that for sure is a work in progress, but there may be no magic wands that the state can waive to get information any more quickly or better than is already happening. Another way to look at the easement disallowment 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.
HB19-1113 Protect Water Quality Adverse Mining Impacts (Donovan) [Roberts, McLachlan]
AMENDED: Minor (requires repassage in House)
PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE
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 currently 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.
Long Description: n/a
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.
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 all mining operations to be able to meet the end date standard required by the bill, so the effect might make it very difficult to open new mines.
HB19-1143 Distribute Plastic Straws Only Upon Request (Fields, Priola) [Lontine]
KILLED BY SPONSOR
Short Description: Prohibits a restaurant, food vendor, or other food service establishment from providing a single-use plastic straw unless the customer asks for one. Waiters are allowed to ask if people want straws. This does not apply to self-serve, drive-through or off-premises service, or prepackaged foods. Bans local governments from regulating use of single-use plastic straws. Local governments can opt-out of these requirements, which would also allow them to move in both directions, more or less stringent.
Long Description: n/a
Plastics do not biodegrade, they instead photodegrade into smaller and smaller pieces that eventually get into animals and then into our food chain. Plastic straws are mostly too lightweight to make it through mechanical recycling sorters. And it is estimated that in America, we use over 500 million plastic straws a day. Yes, that’s right, a day. We are facing some truly scary ocean pollution risks when it comes to plastic, in terms of overall pollution and corruption of the food chain. Seattle has banned them, Starbucks is phasing them out, and McDonald’s has removed them from its U.K. locations. This is not even an outright ban, just a way to reduce straw usage only to those that seek them out, rather than foist them on everyone and continue to multiply our problem. We have to start somewhere, and this (with replacement products available and a product that isn’t even a necessity most of the time) is a great place to do it. To not do it because it doesn't solve the problem is a mindset that rules out attacking most of the problems in our society, which usually require multi-faceted solutions. Our plastic problem is urgent, a true emergency, so we also cannot wait for societal pressures and trends to sort this out over a longer time-frame.
Eight million tons of plastic flows into the ocean each year and plastic straws account for 0.025 percent of that total. This just isn’t going to do much to fix the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and will instead inconvenience Coloradans who want to use a straw but suddenly have to ask for one. And note the phrasing here, straws have to be asked for. So waiters cannot ask a customer if they want a straw, the customer has to ask for it themselves. Every time you get food in a restaurant, you have to ask the waiter or waitress for a straw for your drink. This bill is a flashy concept that fails on the positive effect/negative drawback balance.
This bill is unnecessary as restaurants are already moving in this direction to save money themselves, so we don't need to bring the hammer down and cause inconvenience for the those who do need a straw. With no enforcement measures in the bill, it won't really do much of anything except inconvenience a few folks.
HB19-1159 Modify Innovative Motor Vehicle Income Tax Credits (Danielson) [Jaquez Lewis, Gray]
PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
Extends some of the state tax credits for purchasing or leasing an electric or hybrid motor vehicle.
Extends the state tax credits for purchasing or leasing an electric or hybrid motor vehicle. There are three tiers of credits, $5,000, $7,000, $10,000, and $20,000 for passenger vehicle, light truck, medium truck, and heavy truck purchase and ½ those amounts for leases as tier 1. This tier is left unchanged and will still expire in 2020. Tier 2, set to begin after tier 1 ends and expire in 2021, is extended to 2023 and is $4,000, $5,500, $8,000, and $16,000 respectively. Tier 3, set to begin after tier 2 ends and expire in 2022 is extended to 2026.
One of the most important things we can do to combat climate change is covert our dirty fuel burning vehicles to clean electric. Not only will we appreciate the cleaner air, we’ll also cut down on the climate destructive extraction process to get the fuel for our gas burning cars out of the Earth. We will lessen our dependence on foreign sources of gasoline and we will help drive the economy of tomorrow, not the economy of the past. These tax credits help encourage consumers to buy these cleaner vehicles and make it easier on manufacturers, who are still scaling up production efficiencies and battery efficiencies (which eventually brings costs down).
Electric and hybrid cars don’t need the help anymore, they have clearly arrived. To extend these tax credits at this point is merely subsidizing already profitable and growing industries and a waste of the state’s money. This change is happening and will continue to happen without more money being thrown at it.
The state should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in any market, and granting these huge tax credits to electric and hybrid cars does exactly that. Let the market decide, if people want to buy these cars and trucks they are more than welcome to, but the manufacturers should not get a boost over everyone else.
Oil and gas development is a part of Colorado’s economic well-being and driving people away from gasoline cars has the potential to hurt our state’s economy.
HB19-1165 On-Site Wind Turbine Manufacturing Property Tax Exemption (Donovan, Hisey) [Pelton]
KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
Creates a property tax exemption for materials used to construct wind turbines at the site they will be placed into service so long as the property is used exclusively for that purpose. Exemption ends in 2030.
Long Description: n/a
With wind turbines, the bigger the better. But physical limits on the diameter of wind turbine towers that can be transported on state highways has been a limitation. However, new technology allows for the construction of towers at the site where the turbine is to be used. We need to encourage the construction of larger wind turbines through tax incentives as part of the state’s move toward renewable energy. We are quite literally creating the infrastructure for Colorado’s energy of the future and helping mitigate the impacts of catastrophic climate change with the creation of more wind energy. The financial implications will be small in terms of property tax lost and the long-term gains from the business being in the county will outweigh any losses. No counties are against it.
The state should not be picking winners and losers in the energy field to this degree. If wind energy can provide cheaper electricity than the market will help these wind farms construct these giant towers, without the aid of tax incentives. If not, then all we are doing is setting up a rickety structure that may fall apart once the tax incentives are gone.
This will be a drain on property taxes, which goes to counties, and which goes to schools. Counties could do this themselves already, so any county that wants this can do it now. Anyone that doesn't will be forced to. This is an issue of local control: local tax jurisdictions should be making these decisions, not the state.
HB19-1188 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Impact in Fiscal Notes [Sirota, Snyder]
PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
Goal: To get assessments on the impact of bills on our climate into relevant bill’s fiscal notes.
Requires the non-partisan legislative council staff, which prepares fiscal notes for each bill introduced at the state legislature, to include an assessment of whether or not the bill will cause an increase or decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The staff does not need to estimate the size of the impact.
Long Description: n/a
The fiscal note is the gospel that all legislators adhere to when considering the impact a bill will have on state finances. As we face the dangers of climate change we must also always consider the impact a bill may have on our climate, so our legislators can be on sure footing when considering if a bill is going to make our problem worse or make it better.
We already know the answer in most cases, we don’t need the legislative staff, in particular if we aren’t going to ask them to assess how much a bill will impact the climate (and it’s a good thing we aren’t or we’d never get any fiscal notes in a timely manner). This just wastes their time and slows down an already difficult process.
SB19-034 Local Government Recycling Standards for Food Containers (Moreno) [Arndt]
Allows a local government to set a standard for a retail food establishment’s use of ready-to-eat food containers that may be discarded through recycling or composting.
Recycling and composting rules can vary by location, this bill lets local governments set the rules that will best suit their area. If a local government wants to ban styrofoam in these cases, or other similarly wasteful products like plastic bags, we should let them decide, so long as they are not less strict than the state.
Draconian rules against styrofoam or plastic bags or other such materials could increase costs for restaurants in these local areas, which will almost certainly pass those costs on to consumers.
SB19-045 Clarify Radiation Advisory Committee Compensation (Moreno) [Hooton]
SIGNED INTO LAW
From the Statutory Revision Committee
Clarifies that members of the radiation advisory committee are reimbursed for expenses incurred in the business of the committee.
Long Description: n/a
SB19-053 California Motor Vehicle Emission Standards (Cooke)
KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
Prohibits the state’s air quality control commission from adopting motor vehicle emission standards that are stricter than federal standards and from adopting California motor vehicle emission standards and test procedures unless they are the same as federal standards.
Long Description: n/a
This is an unelected board that should not have the right to circumvent the state legislature. It has acted on an executive order from Governor Hickenlooper last year to adopt California’s standards, which will require vehicles sold in the state to average 36 miles per gallon by 2025. The auto industry is already working toward lower vehicle emissions and it is not necessary to force stricter guidelines than those the federal government and federal Environmental Protection Agency deem are proper to ensure an orderly transition to higher fuel economy vehicles. The impact from a rushed move will fall on consumers in the form of higher prices. This is Colorado, not California and we should not be tying our rules to theirs. We have a different way of life here and should not be taking rules and regulations from other states. And certainly not without a vote of our state’s elected state legislature.
This move was made because the Trump administration is threatening to lower the federal standards and we rightly worry that accelerated global climate change is a strong possibility of not forcing automakers to get more fuel efficient more quickly. Beyond the devastating potential impacts of climate change, air pollution impacts the economy and impacts our health. The smog that can sometimes hang over the Denver area is something we should all want to get rid of and a prime contributor is air pollution from our cars. Also, this notion that automakers are going to ignore the 40 million people in the 5th largest economy in the world (California on its own would qualify as such) is silly. If California makes these rules, automakers in the US aren’t going to come up with some sort of complicated scheme whereby they can squeak by in California but pollute more in other states. They are going to adjust to the California market, which is also already joined in its potentially stricter standards by 12 other states and Washington D.C.
SB19-054 Military Vehicle Motor Vehicle Regulation (Crowder) [Valdez]
PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE
Creates a new category of motor vehicle,
demilitarized surplus military vehicle, and exempts this new category from emissions standards and the requirement to have a physical inspection for roadworthiness. Humvees are excluded from this category.
Creates a new category of motor vehicle,
demilitarizeddemilitarized surplus military vehicle, which is a self-propelled vehicle that is purchased for non-military use but was commonly used by the US armed forces to transmit people on highways and was actually built by the US military. Humvees are excluded. Exempts this new category from emissions standards and the requirement to have a physical inspection for roadworthiness.
This exemption will not apply to vehicles manufactured for commercial sale, so the Hummer for instance would still have to meet emissions standards. Army vehicles can be bought more cheaply than the commercial version. There is even an online auction marketplace. There are also heavy duty trucks available that can be very useful for those living in rural areas. Multiple counties require emissions testing when registering or selling a vehicle and these vehicles cannot be titled and registered by the state due to the fact that they are not deemed roadworthy by the federal government (they lack VIN identification). But 349 were improperly registered under an older state software system and now cannot be sold. These vehicles are obviously road-worthy, they were used by the military. We need a way to buy and sell them in the state.
This should not be a privileged category. Heavy duty trucks and super SUVs like the Hummer are available for purchase from commercial dealers and if price is a problem, used versions can be pursued. There is nothing magical about a vehicle that used to be used by the armed forces, certainly nothing magical enough to set aside rules that protect
our environment and help us combat the potential of catastrophic climate change roads.
SB19-083 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Air Quality Control (Zenzinger) [McKean] TECHNICAL BILL
From the Statutory Revision Committee
SIGNED INTO LAW
Removes obsolete provisions regarding air quality and the state board of health.
Long Description: n/a
SB19-096 Collect Long-term Climate Change Data (Donovan) [Hansen]
Changes how the state measures, reports, and forecasts greenhouse gas emissions as well as requiring identification of mitigation strategies in annual reports.
Currently the state reports on greenhouse gas emission only every five years, with one report due this year and another in 2024. This bill changes how the state measures, reports, and forecasts greenhouse gas emissions as well as requiring identification of mitigation strategies in annual reports. It requires the air quality control commission to create rules based on federal standards to require the submission of the best information available from gas emitting entities. These must define the classes of emitting entities required to report and implement measure to collect the proper information on an annual basis. The 2020 report is required to have a list of proposed rules to implement that would most cost-effectively allow the state to meet its ambitious 2025 emissions reductions goals. Other new changes in include considering the carbon sequestration and emissions implications of forests and agricultural practices, recalculating the 2005, 2007, and 2014 reports based on the new standards, and forecast future emissions through 2050 based on three models: no action, low level of action, and high level of statewide action taken to combat climate change.
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. Additionally, our current methods of measurement are inadequate, we are behind the methods that other states use. Finally, we need to do much more than just collect this information, we need to figure out what to do to address it. 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 and the rest of the world is dedicated to saving us from the most disastrous effects of extreme climate change. We must do our part in Colorado, where we are uniquely positioned to capitalize on solar and wind energy strategies.
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. It will undoubtedly be a prime target of this newly empowered report to propose “solutions” to somehow fix our climate from just right here in Colorado. We also do not need to waste state resources on annual reports, every few years is fine to check in on our progress toward cleaner air. Climate forecasting is also an imperfect art, as even climate change true believers will acknowledge. Forecasting 35 years into the future, and what will happen if we do X or Y is too flimsy a reed to put our state’s economic well-being on.
SB19-181 Protect Public Welfare Oil and Gas Operations (Fenberg) [Becker]
PASSED SENATE AND A HOUSE COMMITTEE
Goal: To reshape Colorado’s oil and gas laws away from industry and toward environmental protection and local control.
This is a massive bill, so bear with us.
- Repeal limitations on local government to have land use authority over oil and gas operations. Clarifies that local governments can regulate oil and gas locations including ability to inspect facilities, impose fines and fees, and enforce local government requirements. Repeals exemption for oil and gas production from local noise ordnances. Specifies that both state agencies and local authorities have right to regulate oil and gas operations and that the more environmentally protective standard prevails in cases of conflict. Requires operators to file proof that the local government where extraction would take place has consented or is not required to consent to drilling.
- Excludes from the definition of waste of oil and gas resources the nonproduction of oil or gas necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare or the environment. Repeals requirement oil and gas commission consider cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility with regard to mitigating adverse impacts to wildlife resources. Requires the commission to protect and minimize adverse impacts to public health, safety, and welfare, the environment, and wildlife resources and protect against adverse impacts on any air, water, soil, or biological resource from oil and gas operations, but not in an arbitrary or capricious way.
- Clarifies that nothing in the oil and gas conservation act alters, impairs, or negates the authority of the air quality control commission to regulate oil and gas production air pollution; the water quality control commission to regulate water pollution from oil and gas production; the state board of health to regulate disposal of naturally occurring radioactive materials from oil and gas production; and the solid and hazardous waste commission to regulate disposal of hazardous from oil and gas production. Directs air quality control commission to adopt rules to require oil and gas operators to install continuous monitoring equipment to monitor for hazardous air pollution and minimize emissions of methane and other hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.Requires semi-annual inspections by oil and gas operators for leak detection and repair.
- Requires oil and gas commission to create rules to: ensure proper wellhead integrity, including nondestructive testing; allow public disclosure of flowline information and to evaluate what must be done to a deactivated flowline prior to reactivation; evaluate inactive and shut-in wells prior to their being put back into production.
- Directs oil and gas commission to change its rules for financial assurances from oil and gas operators from current $60,000 for fewer than 100 well and $100,000 for more than 100. New rules must require financial assurance sufficient to provide adequate coverage for all applicable requirements. Removes cap on administrative fees ($200 or $100 currently). Changes requirements for the state oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund from $6 million maximum over two year average with adequate balance to address needs to unobligated part of fund not exceeding 50% of total appropriations from the fund with adequate balance to address needs.
- Changes forced pooling requirements from approval of one lease or royalty interest owner to approval of at least 50% of pooled mineral interest owners. Specifies that nonconsenting owner surfaces cannot be used without permission. Changes royalty rate for nonconsenting owner from 12.5% to 15 13% (this is until the consenting owners’ costs are recouped).
- Changes composition of the nine member commission from three industry members and one environmental/wildlife protection to one industry member, one with wildlife protection training, one with environmental protection training, and one with soil conservation or reclamation training, and one with public health training. Changes requirement that one member must be engaged in agricultural production and be a royalty owner to an “or” requirement.
- Bans the commission from approving any new oil and gas facilities until it creates the rules required by this bill. Allows the director of the commission to refuse new permits if it is determined by criteria created by commission within 30 days of bill passage that the new permit would require additional analysis due to this bill or additional local approval due to this bill.
- Requires commission to adopt rules for certification for workers who are compliance officers, handle hazardous materials, and welders, with minimum of 7,000 hours of documented on-job training for welders. Training requirements can be met by working under supervision of person who has reached 7,000 hour minimum already.
Additional Information: n/a
This about a long-overdue reset of the balance between extracting oil and gas and protecting our environment and local interests. Some of the provisions that the bill fixes are amazing: that local communities had no say in oil and gas operations unless the commission said so, that not producing oil or gas because of environmental impacts was “waste”, that oil and gas operations could ignore noise ordinances, and most importantly: that we have not put public health and our environment first and have intended tried to “balance” public health against oil and gas development. 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 bill will make the state operate to try to prevent damage entirely, not “balance” it out.
- 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.
- 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 highly profitable oil and gas industry should have no problem adhering to these new standards.
- Current law doesn’t require oil and gas companies to implement best practices regarding wellhead integrity. The explosion in Firestone two years ago is an example of the dangers of our current setup.
- The notion that one person can dictate forced pooling to hundreds is an assault on common sense. This bill fixes that out-of-whack balance by requiring a majority, like we do for most things in America.
- The ban on new operations will prevent a rush to get new wells approved under the old regime.
Oil and gas can be a vital part of Colorado’s economy and be a responsible civic citizen. We do not have to fall for the false choice that it is either one or the other. This bill ensures we will get both.
This bill is a frontal assault on one of the most important industries in the state. 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 so if you cannot have that risk, you cannot develop oil and gas. 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.
- Allowing Not In My Backyard interests to prevent these facilities from operating will cause harm to the entire state, so that is why the entire state must be the entity that ultimately decides, not local governments.
- Enacting in essence a drilling moratorium until the rules in this law are enacted, which could take quite a bit of time.
- Much more onerous financial requirements may mean fewer projects which may mean fewer jobs.
- Nonconsenting pooling owners are already compensated for their rights and technologies exist to pull the minerals out from beneath their land without touching it physically. We again cannot allow NIMBY interests to interfere with vital state industries.
- Rebalancing the oil and gas commission into an environmental protection group may be one of the farthest reaching changes in this bill with the least understood unintentional consequences. Four out of the nine members have nothing to do with oil and gas and everything to do with the environment. That is one short of a majority and given the commission’s broad authority to regulate the industry, who knows what far-reaching changes this commission will bring about.
SB19-192 Front Range Waste Diversion Enterprise Grant Program (Winter, Priola) [Jackson]
Goal: To increase recycling usage in the front range through fees at landfills.
Creates the front range diversion enterprise grant program, which can issue grants and technical assistance to eligible entities to reduce waste through increased recycling and increase diversion of municipal and non-municipal solid waste materials (mattresses, construction materials, electronics, appliances, and organic waste). Municipalities, counties, non-profits and for-profit businesses involved in waste disposal or diversion are eligible as well as schools (both K-12 and higher ed). Money for the fund comes from a user fee on each load of waste deposited at a landfill in the front range (or originating from front range and deposited elsewhere). $0.15 per cubic yard in 2020 ramping up to $0.60 per cubic yard in 2023 and then adjusted for inflation in the future. Current fee is $0.14. Also increases fines for littering and credits new funds to program. Program is tasked with achieving waste reduction goals within the front range of 32% diversion by 2021, 39% by 2026, and 51% by 2036. State recycling rate currently is 12%, national average is 35%.
Front range is defined as Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Elbert, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Pueblo, Teller, and Weld counties as well as city and county of Denver and Broomfield. Grant program can also issue bonds. Grant fund is tasked specifically with examining: implementing pay-as-you-throw rate structures for single-family recycling, increasing recycling for commercial sector, increased curbside recycling, collection of organic waste from residents and food-service businesses, policies and programs to expand construction and demolition recycling, standardization of recycling policies and practices, remediation of illegal waste disposal sites, and systems to track diversion rates. Board is to consist of 13 members, including: one from office of economic development, two from department of public health and environmental control, two from front range municipalities, two from front range counties, and six appointed by governor balanced among non-profit and for-profit entities engaging in trash industry.
[/expand title] Arguments For:
It’s right there in the description, Colorado has one of the lowest recycling rates in the country at 12%. We just disposed of a record 9 million tons of trash in 2017 and are quite literally throwing money away: more than a quarter billion dollars-worth of recyclable material each year. Recycling creates an average of nine times more jobs than landfill disposal and it provides obvious benefits to our environment. The bill is limited to the front range because the front range produces 85% of the state’s waste and has the infrastructure to be much better with recycling than rural areas of the state. Our current funding for recycling programs is obviously inadequate and it makes sense to charge fees on the activity we want to stop (putting trash in landfills) to fund the activity we want to grow.
This may raise costs for consumers across the front range as these fees are generally passed on to them (right now average front range family pays $0.86 a year to support the current $0.14 fee). So the trash companies may be passing along the fee increase to customers and then turning around and taking those same fees from the state in the form of grants in order to boost recycling in the state. It’s not very much money of course, barely noticeable. But the trash companies shouldn’t be allowed to charge customers for money that is going to come back around to them.