FIRESTONE, Colo. (CBS4) – A state lawmaker says she will introduce a bill that would require all the oil and gas pipelines in Colorado to be mapped out.
The news comes after last week’s announcement by Gov. John Hickenlooper that he won’t order a map of that nature be public.
A lot of people want to know where such pipelines are after the explosion at a home in Firestone in April that took two lives. The blast was caused by what has been described as fugitive gas from a pipeline that had been severed.
No one — not even energy company Anadarko — knew it had an abandoned pipeline near the house, let alone that it was severed.
State Rep. Lori Saine intends to prevent a situation like that from happening again.
“If they want to know if there’s pipelines near your house, I think that’s important for a lot of folks in light of this tragedy,” said Saine, a Republican who represents Firestone and lives a mile away from the site of the explosion.
Saine’s bill would create a digital map of all flowlines in the state in a similar manner to Texas. A homeowner in Texas can type in their address and find out immediately if there are lines underneath the ground.
But Hickenlooper says a public map could lead to people siphoning off gas. Instead, he says homeowners can call 811 to have underground lines flagged if they’re doing excavation.
“I think those concerns are pretty far fetched. To think that somebody’s going to dig several feet underground for a four inch pipeline in order to tap it for gas for their own use just seems a little bit out there,” said State Rep. Mike Foote.
Foote, a Democrat who represents Boulder, introduced a pipeline mapping bill after the explosion but it was too late in the legislative session for it to go anywhere. He says everyone should have access to the information.
“If people want to see this then they should be able to see it,” Foote said.
Saine — who opposed his bill — says while homeowners should be able to find out what’s under them, they, as well as eco terrrorists, don’t need to know where every pipeline in the state is.
“We need to make sure we get this right,” Saine said.
“I think this is going to be imporrtant in the future as we have more home building and construction closer and closer to existing oil and gas facilities.”
Foote agrees that’s real issue. He wonders why local governments are allowing new homes to be built near existing wells. And he wonders why the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission allowing new drilling near existing homes.
The mapping bill is sure to be one of many oil and gas bills introduced in this next session of the Colorado legislature.