DENVER (AP) – Colorado’s House on Monday defeated a bill to reassert local government control over the siting of oil and gas drilling, with some Democrats joining Republicans in deciding it isn’t the time to add to regulatory confusion while the state Supreme Court considers if such powers are legal.
The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Mike Foote of Lafayette and Su Ryden of Aurora, became a platform for another debate on state-versus-local authority over an energy industry whose operations increasingly affect urban and suburban communities along Colorado’s Front Range.
Foote and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp of Arvada offered an amendment they said would limit municipalities’ authority over fracking to the use of their noise, traffic and visual impact ordinances. Under the current system, Foote said, local governments are quickly sued by energy companies for trying to use that authority.
Opponents said local input already is outlined under the 2015 findings of a fracking task force convened by Gov. John Hickenlooper. They insisted the commission already considers local impacts in siting rigs.
And they said it wasn’t time for the bill because the state Supreme Court is considering the legality of a 2012 voter-approved fracking ban in Longmont.
Rep. Cole Wist argued the bill sought to undo compromises ironed out by the governor’s task force.
“A yes vote for this bill is a statement that the governor’s policy has failed,” the Centennial Republican said. “This is about allowing local governmental entities to pre-empt state action on gas siting.”
The bill specifically states that the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has been unable to address local concerns.
Scientists have attributed some earthquakes in Oklahoma to massive groundwater injection of waste fluids from fracking, which uses chemicals to pry oil and gas from underground.
– By JAMES ANDERSON, AP Writer
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