We heard it was coming, and with SB 181 (Oil and Gas bill) having been introduced late Friday and already scheduled for a committee hearing four days later, it’s pretty obvious leadership has decided to fast track this bill. As a member of the Transportation and Energy committee I’ll be studying up, but here’s what stands out so far.

There are several proposed changes: like monitoring and fees that someone will have to explain the need for, but if they’re not necessary they just grow government and stifle the free market.

There are, however, big changes; moving oil and gas regulations from state control to local control; changing the number one mission of Colorado Oil and Gas Commission; as well as changing the makeup of the nine-member COGCC board.

To the local control issue, Colorado is a sovereign state, and we have the responsibility to regulate according to the needs of our citizens within the constraints of the Colorado and U.S. Constitutions.

There are many good reasons why some issues should be regulated on a state-wide basis. As a trucking company you wouldn’t want the weight limit on the state highways to change every time you entersanother county or city. The same can be said for many industries that operate multiple locations throughout our state.

Giving the authority to set regulations, conduct inspections and levy fines to 64 counties and 269 municipalities, on an industry that is already functioning under some of the most stringent regulations in the country, it looks like a way to create confusion. If the state needs to review best practices, safety and environmental concerns, we can and should do it.

COGCC, which is charged with fostering oil and gas development in the state, will receive new marching orders that prioritize regulations that protect “public health, safety and welfare,” including protection of the environment and wildlife resources.

These are all laudable goals, as long as that is not code for shutting down the oil and gas industry, which you have to wonder about since the board is no longer allowed to take into consideration cost-effectiveness and feasibility.

As for changing the makeup of the Board, it would go from three to one member of the board with substantial experience in the oil and gas industry, add one member for wildlife protection and one member for public health. We’ll know more after the first hearing.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. Lots of ways to stay in touch: office phone 303-866-4877 or mobile phone 719-351-2121, my email is SenatorHisey@gmail.com, My Twitter handle is @SenDennisHisey, and on Facebook search for Senator Dennis Hisey.

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