Colorado lawmakers kill oil and gas property rights bill
DENVER, Colorado ” A Senate committee killed a bill Tuesday aimed at ensuring landowners’ rights as the state prepares to enact tough new rules on oil and gas drilling to minimize the effects on wildlife.
The bill by Democratic state Sen. Jim Isgar of Hesperus would have given landowners the final say about wildlife on their land. The Senate Local Government and Energy Committee killed the measure on a 5-1 vote.
Isgar said he was unable to resolve disputes among landowners, drillers and regulators over the bill and will leave it to lawmakers to decide on the rules on Friday.
He said deep suspicion among the three groups doomed any chance to reach an agreement on his bill.
“I believe Colorado farmers and ranchers have a rich history of protecting wildlife and property. They are the state’s original stewards and conservationists,” Isgar told the committee.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has drafted about 100 rules that will be decided by legislative leaders on Friday.
One major rule in contention would require oil and gas operators to consult with the Division of Wildlife on minimizing adverse impacts to wildlife.
Legislative lawyers say lawmakers will have to decide between two apparently conflicting rules. One says the Division of Wildlife still must consult with the drilling company, the surface owner and the commission, and the other says the company must consult with the commission, the surface owner and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says the only dispute is over the order in which consultations are held.
Isgar said lawmakers made it clear when they drafted a law ordering the rules that their intent was that the Division of Wildlife would provide input to the commission, not that drilling companies had to consult with the Division of Wildlife.