DENVER (AP) – A bill to enhance the power of the Colorado officials in ranchers’ water disputes with gas and oil companies has won initial backing in the House.

The bill would raise the legal standard for southwest Colorado ranchers, along with the Oil and Gas Accountability Project and the city of Sterling. They’re suing the state engineer over allowing certain oil wells to be drilled without water permits.

The measure won preliminary approval on Monday without debate and without any opposition. A more formal vote is required in the House before the bill can head to the Senate.

The bill says courts must presume that the state engineer’s determination about whether wells would deplete surface water is valid, unless a farmer or rancher can prove otherwise.

House Bill 1286

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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