The Elbert County Oil and Gas Interest Group (ECOGIG) Page
Feb 29, 2012
Hi All: Many thanks to ECOGIG contributor Rick Blotter for his work to attend many hearings at the state legislature AND for the
following summary. THANKS RICK!!
Summary of Bills Concerning Hydraulic Fracturing in the Colorado State Legislature 2012
House Bill 12-1176; House Local Government Committee
Would have set a setback distance from wellheads to homes or schools of 1000 feet. The current regulation is 350 feet in urban areas
and 150 feet in rural areas. It would have protected citizens from the noise, lights, air pollution and traffic inherent with fracking. It
was defeated in the Local Government Committee 8-3. Representatives Conti, R-Denver, Gardner, R-Co. Springs, Kerr, R-Littleton,
LaBuda, D-Denver, Pace, D-Pueblo, Swerdfeger, R-Denver, Dalmer, R-Centennial, and Szabo, R-Denver, all voted against the bill.
Representatives Fields, D-Aurora, Lee, D-Co. Springs, and Soper, D-Thorton, voted in favor of the bill.
House Bill 12-1173; House Local Government Committee
Would have required oil and gas operators to use closed loop systems to store produced water. Produced water or flowback water
contains carcinogenic chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive materials. Usually operators use open pits to store this fluid. Closed
loop systems require the fluid to be stored, until removed, in tanks. This helps prevent spills that contaminate ground water. Spills
occur every day according to the COGCC. Representatives Conti, R-Denver, Gardner, R-Co. Springs, Kerr, R-Littleton, LaBuda,
D-Denver, Swerdfeger, R-Denver, Dalmer, R-Centennial, and Szabo, R-Denver, all voted against the Bill. Representatives Fields,
D-Aurora, Lee, D-Co. Springs, and Pace, D-Pueblo, voted in favor of the bill. Representative Soper was excused.
House Bill 12-1164; House Judiciary Committee
The bill basically was designed to protect the property rights of citizens. It would have required the seller of real estate to disclose
whether or not the seller knew if either the mineral rights or water rights had been severed from the surface rights. The bill was
defeated 4 to 7. Those voting for the bill were: Crisanta Duran (D-District 5), Pete Lee (D-District 18), Dan Pabon (D-District 4) and Su
Ryden (D-District 36). Those voting against the bill (and I feel, preservation of property rights) were: Bob Gardner (R-District 21), Mark
Barker (R-District 17), Brian Delgrosso (R-District 51), Daniel Kagan (D-District 3), B.J. Nikkel (R-District 49), Jerry Sonnenberg (R-District
65) and Mark Waller (R-District 15).
House Bill 12-1277; House Local Government Committee
The State House Local Government Committee killed House Bill 12-1277 on February 20, 2012. The bill would have given local
governments, counties and cities, the explicit right to require, for instance, larger set backs of wells from homes and schools, a
requirement that dangerous flowback water be contained in tanks rather than open pits, vapor recovery systems be used to control
Volatile Organic Compounds being released into the air, and the millions of gallons of water used in hydraulic fracturing be recycled
to cut down on truck traffic and aquifer depletion. Seven lobbyists for the Oil and Gas association, National Royalty Owners, Colorado
Association of Commerce and others testified that the bill would limit jobs and hurt the economy. They were worried that the oil
industries would pull out of Colorado. A few of the Committee members appeared to be mocking the citizens who testified. The
chairperson, Laura Bradford, R - Colbran, Bob Gardner, R – Co. Springs, Libby Szabo, R – Denver, and David Balmer, R – Centennial,
frequently left the hearing during citizen testimony and worked on their computers while sitting at their seats. At one point, a testifier,
asked David Balmer to show some respect and, ‘at least close your computer while I’m talking to you.’ He laughed. The other
Representatives who also voted against the bill were Kathleen Conti, R – Denver, and Keith Swerdfeger, R – Denver (it appeared that
he dozed off at his desk). Representatives Rhonda Fields, D – Aurora, Jeanne LaBuda, D – Denver, Pete Lee, D – Colorado Springs,
and John Soper, D – Thorton, voted in favor of it. The Committee did stay until 6 pm in order to give all an opportunity to testify. It
was ironic, as Representative Bradford pointed out, that no county commissioners were there to testify. (Mayor Dominic Moreno from
Commerce City did testify in favor of the bill.) It was interesting that Committee members did not know about the Halliburton loophole
of the Clean Water Act : it stripped the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. Those that
voted for the b ill wanted more information ; those that voted against the bill did not believe that the loophole existed.
Senate Bill 12-088; Senate Local Government Committee
This b ill would have preempted local government control by the s tate of land use issues. (This is, sort of, the opposite of HB 12-1277,
above.) It was defeated 4 – 1. Those voting against the bill were Senators Foster, D-Denver, Nicholson, D-Boulder, Roberts,
R-Durango, and Aguilar, D-Denver. Senator Tim Neville, R-Jeffco, voted to take away local government rights.
One more bill, Senate Bill 12-107, Senate Judiciary Committee, still needs to be put on the calendar. It will help protect
water related to hydraulic fracturing. Highlights of this bill ask the COGCC to develop rules when fracking near radioactive materials,
require a shut-down of operations when monitoring equipment detects a pressure drop, require operators to disclose sources and
amounts of water used, require operators to report information about all water wells within a ½ mile, require operators to use
non-carcinogenic chemicals in fracking fluid, and require operators to post a bond to compensate water well owners in case of an
accident. Senator Morgan Carroll from Arapahoe County sponsors it. Those who think regulations inhibit jobs and oil company profits
have given her flack about it already.