In a reaction to a letter the Mesa County Commissioners sent to the state legislature opposing SB19-181(pdf), Mesa County residents can now easily add their names to a letter that urges state legislators to PASS Senate Bill 19-181, a landmark bill to refocus the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission away from fostering oil and gas development to instead protecting public health, safety and welfare and the environment when considering new applications for drilling.
The bill was crafted with input from Erin Martinez, who lost her husband and brother in the explosion of a hidden gas flowline under their house in Firestone, Colorado in April of 2017. The bill will require public disclosure of flowline information.
The bill also requires the drilling industry to avoid negative impacts to water sources, and avoid subjecting residents to dust, noise, nuisance odors and “all other nuisance-type effects of oil and gas development.” The bill also requires the drilling industry to minimize methane emissions and continuously monitor operations for leaks of hazardous air pollutants and volatile organic compounds.
Contrary to the Mesa County Commissioners’ belief, the bill does NOT ban drilling, nor does it allow local governments put moratoria on drilling. Rather, it gives local governments more power in dealing with the industry, for example by allowing them to fine drilling companies for leaks, spills and emissions.
The bill has been a long time in coming in Colorado, where citizens have been trying for years to minimize their exposure to the health and safety hazards posed by drilling industry as the industry increasingly moves into residential and other sensitive areas.
You can read the entire bill here and sign the citizens’ letter in support of SB19-181 here.
The letter will be sent to the state legislature next week before the entire senate votes on the bill.