A bill that sought to improve the reporting of oil and gas leaks and accidents failed in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy committee on Thursday on a party line vote. HB18-1157, sponsored by Representative KC Becker, Representative Jonathan Singer, Senator Stephen Fenberg would have required oil and gas operators to “file written reports with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and other affected stakeholders for each major and minor reportable event.”
Those events included the spillage of 25 barrels of oil, contaminated water, chemicals, or waste; unauthorized flaring or release of more than 500,000 cubic feet of gas at a drilling site, injection, or disposal facility; more than 1,500,000 cubic feet of gas leaked from any transportation or processing facility; a fire that involves said volumes of gas; fires that are close to sensitive areas; fatal injuries; loss of control or blowouts.
Expectations for reporting “minor” incidents would also fall under reporting requirements.
Jim Martin, an attorney for the Colorado Petroleum Council spoke in opposition to the bill because he said that the measure duplicates provisions that already exist over the industry. Martin said that current regulations require the operator to notify the COGCC and emergency services where a spill or accident has occurred, “Regulations also require reporting of spills of any size if it impacts or threatens to impact any waters of the state, a residence, or occupied structure of livestock.”
But public speakers who favored the bill especially supported the item that required accessibility to search for such incidents on the COGCC website as the bill reads, “The commission will post the reports, notifications, and an annual summary on its website in a database that is searchable by operator, location, type of event, date, and other criteria established by the commission.”
Broomfield resident Jean Lin who spoke in support of the bill, said she especially supported that particular portion of the bill because of frustrations with navigating the COGCC site, “We’ve been invested in being informed. We are aware of accidents that have occurred. We have tried to do our best in investigating them, but if you look at the reports, there are a lot of unknowns.”
Another Broomfield resident, Laura Sellers said that as a breast and skin cancer survivor that she felt it unfair to be subjected to increased risk to cancer as she believes is happening with the increased number of well pads under construction near where she lives, “The laws for oil and gas are somewhat antiquated. They were made for development in areas of sparse population and as the industry grows, there is more and more development happening in densely popped residential areas with schools and parks near it. I’m deeply concerned about the health and safety of my family and friends that will be living near these wells.”
Senators Randy Baumgardner, John Cooke, Don Coram, Vicki Marble, Ray Scott, and Jerry Sonnenberg
Senators Kerry Donovan, Steve Fenberg, Rhonda Fields, Leroy Garcia, and Matt Jones