On Monday, House Democrats continued to roll out their package of oil and gas regulations with three new bills (and countless unintended consequences) – HB13-1267, HB13-1268, and HB13-1269. Here’s a quick primer on what each would do:
HB1267: Requires increased fines for oil and gas companies. According to the Denver Business Journal, this bill specifically would:
“…increase the maximum daily fine to $15,000, sets a minimum fine of $5,000 per violation for day for violations that have “a significant adverse impact on public health, safety or welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources,” and repeal the cap on the maximum fine amount.”
HB1268: According to the bill summary, would “require a seller to disclose in the sale of real property that a separate mineral estate may subject the property to oil, gas, or mineral extraction.”
HB1269: HB1269 is more complex than the previous two. It alters the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to “to ensure that the development of oil and gas resources protects public health, the environment, and wildlife resources.” The bill also prevents a COGCC commissioner from concurrently serving as a commissioner and as an “employee, officer, or director of an operator or oil and gas service company.”
Unfortunately, unnecessary regulation of industries often leads to unexpected snafus. Take, for instance, the Fort Collins ban on fracking near neighborhoods. As it turns out, Prospect Energy, a subsidiary of Black Diamond Minerals, has been drilling in the area since the early 20th century and urban sprawl has run into their drilling activities. Scott Hall, the CEO of Black Diamond explained the situation to the Denver Business Journal:
“This field was discovered in 1924 and it was in the middle of nowhere. And what’s happened is urban sprawl. The city has come to us. It annexed us and then they zoned it residential. It was their choice.”
Further, as oil and gas has been one of the fastest growing industries in Colorado, over-regulation of an already highly-regulated industry could have a negative impact on job growth and the possible tax base from state-based industry. For a legislature that claims that jobs and the economy are “priority number one”, this is just another example of Democrats saying one thing and doing another.