Colorado State Senator Matt Jones and Representative Mike Foote have introduced Senate Bill 48, which would remove sole regulation of oil and gas siting and permitting from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, give municipal and county governments authority over oil and gas drilling and siting of operations, and allow those local governments to plan, zone and refuse such operations. The short title of the act is the “Protect Act.”

The summary of the proposed law follows:

Current law specifies that local governments have powers, commonly called “House Bill 1041” powers, which are a type of land use authority, over oil and gas mineral extraction areas only if the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission has designated a specific area as an area of state interest.

Sections 3 and 4 repeal that limitation.

Section 5 includes specific authority to regulate the siting of oil and gas facilities in counties’ existing land use authority.

Section 6 makes the same changes with regard to municipalities’ existing land use authority.

Sections 7 and 8 specify that the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission’s authority to regulate oil and gas operations, including the siting of oil and gas facilities, does not exempt an oil and gas facility from a local government’s siting authority and that an oil and gas operator must ensure that the location of an oil and gas facility complies with city, town, county, or city and county siting regulations.

Sections 5, 6, and 8 specify that, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the governing body of a municipality and a board of county commissioners may, in order to protect the public safety, health, and welfare of the citizens of the local government, plan, zone, and refuse to allow oil and gas operations.

Excerpts of SB 48: the “Protect Act”

Excerpts from the legislative declaration for the proposed law and portions of Section 7 follow:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado:

The general assembly hereby

(a) Finds that:

  • The protection of citizens’ public safety, health, and welfare is the highest responsibility of government and is a fundamental right;
  • Local governments routinely use their land use authority to manage industrial activities;
  • Oil and gas operations release carcinogenic gases that may cause acute myeloid leukemia and possibly acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They also release toxic gases that may cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.
  • The toxic gases also help cause ozone, which may aggravate chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and bronchitis. The northern Colorado area is listed 6 as a nonattainment area for ozone due to health concerns.
  • Oil and gas are inherently dangerous materials to manage, making accidents potentially catastrophic to people and the environment;
  • Oil and gas methane emissions contribute to global warming, which reduces snowpack, increases drought with impacts to agriculture and heat-related illnesses, fosters widespread tree beetle kill, makes wildfires larger, more volatile, and costly, and likely increases floods, all with large local government social and financial costs and liabilities;

(b) Determines that:

  • The current legal structure is not working because the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission’s rules governing the siting of industrial oil and gas facilities do not protect the public health and safety of Colorado’s citizens;
  • The Colorado oil and gas conservation commission’s 2013 rule-making regarding setbacks and water quality, the commission’s 2014 rule-making regarding oil and gas drilling in flood plains, and the commission’s 2016 rule-making regarding large-scale oil and gas operations are all examples of the commission’s inability to adequately address local concerns regarding oil and gas operations; and
  • The governing bodies of local governments are in the best position to determine the appropriate locations for oil and gas facilities or whether they are allowed;


(c) Declares that it is in the interest of the state of Colorado to clarify that local governments may plan, zone, and allow or refuse to allow oil and gas facilities.

SECTION 7. In Colorado Revised Statutes, 34-60-105, amend 27 (1) as follows:

Powers of commission. (1) (a) The commission has jurisdiction over all persons and property, public and private, necessary to enforce the provisions of this article ARTICLE 60 and has the power to make and enforce rules regulations and orders pursuant to this article ARTICLE 60 and to do whatever may reasonably be necessary to carry out the provisions of this article ARTICLE 60.

(b) Any delegation of authority to any other state officer, board, or commission to administer any other laws of this state relating to the conservation of oil or gas, or either of them, is hereby rescinded and  withdrawn and such authority is unqualifiedly conferred upon the commission, as provided in this section. NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE 60 EXEMPTS THE LOCATION OF OIL AND GAS FACILITIES USED IN OIL AND GAS OPERATIONS FROM A LOCAL GOVERNMENT’S LAND USE AND SITING AUTHORITY AS PROVIDED… .

The proposed law may be read in full here.

“With Democrats holding a majority of seats in the Legislature’s House of Representatives and Republicans holding the majority in the state Senate — bill sponsors will need bipartisan support for their measures in order to clear votes in committees and on the House and Senate floors, before the proposed laws can advance to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk for his decisions about whether to sign them, veto them, or allow them to become law without his signature,” the Longmont Times Call reported.

Governor Hickenlooper is term-limited after 2018.

Note that Jones and Foote also introduced Senate Bill 64, which would require 100% renewable energy By 2035: “Concerning an update to the renewable energy standard to require that all electric utilities derive their energy from one hundred percent renewable sources by 2035.”

From the Colorado Education Association

How a Bill Becomes a Law

The Colorado Legislature has 100 members: 35 Senators and 65 Representatives. There are two chambers: Senate and House.

Each legislator serves on several committees, appointed to these positions by his or her political party’s leadership. The committees that generally hear bills of interest to our Association are Education; State Affairs; Health, Environment, Welfare and Institutions; Finance; and Business Affairs and Labor. Most bills in which we are interested begin in either the House or Senate Education Committees. Bills with a fiscal impact are usually heard in the committee of origin and in the Appropriations Committee.

The process by which a bill is passed is a series of hearings and votes. Passage of a bill requires a majority: 33 votes in the House and 18 votes in the Senate.

Introduction in either the Senate or the House:
A Senator or Representative introduces a bill as the bill’s sponsor. Other legislators may sign on as co-sponsors. A bill has a House sponsor and a Senate sponsor.

First Reading:
The bill is read in the House or Senate (wherever it is introduced) and is given a number and a committee assignment. The bill may be assigned to more than one committee.

Committee Hearing:
The committee reviews the bill in a hearing. Supporters and opponents can testify for or against the bill; citizens can attend the hearing and testify on the bill. The committee decides whether to amend the bill (by adding language, taking language out, substituting language for the original language, and voting on the amendment) or vote on it as introduced. Then the committee votes to pass the bill, refer the bill to another committee, or kill the bill. Killing the bill is technically called “Postponing Indefinitely” or PI. (If the committee refers the bill to another committee, that committee has a hearing on the bill.)

Second Reading:
If the committee passes the bill, it goes to the House or Senate floor, depending on whichchamber introduced it. The bill is read to the entire House or Senate. The legislators can amend the bill (and vote on the amendment). Then they vote on the bill in its final form. When a bill is killed on the floor of either house, it is considered “Lost.”

Third Reading:
If the full chamber passes a bill, it takes a “third reading” vote as its final approval before sending it to the other house. Or it can kill the bill on third reading.

Repeat of Process:
If the first chamber passes a bill, the bill goes to the other house and the process repeats.

Conference Committee:
If a bill passes both chambers, but the version of the bill are different, the bill goes to a conference committee. The House and Senate leaders appoint conference committee members who try to work out the differences and end up with one compromise bill. The compromise bill then goes back to both chambers for final votes.

If a bill passes both chambers (with or without a conference committee), it goes to the Governor for his signature. The Governor can sign the bill (make it law); not sign the bill and allow it to become law without his approval; or veto the bill. If he vetoes a bill, the bill returns to the Legislature where the Senators and Representatives may try to override the Governor’s veto.

Legal Notice