Bill that would end new oil, gas permits in Colorado doesn’t pass Senate committee

The Colorado Chamber of Commerce called SB 159 “one of the most hostile bills targeting the energy industry we’ve ever seen.”

Published: March 29, 2024 4:52pm

(The Center Square) -

A Senate committee voted against advancing a Democratic-backed bill that would have barred new oil and gas permits in Colorado.

Senate Bill 24-159 would have required the Colorado Energy & Carbon Management Commission to adopt rules to stop issuing new permits for oil and gas development by 2030. It would have also lowered the number of permits for new wells in 2028 and 2029.

The Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee voted 5-2 on Thursday evening to indefinitely postpone the legislation following hours of debate.

Committee Chair Sen. Dylan Roberts, D-Frisco, Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, D-Monument, Sen. Janice Marchman, D-Loveland, Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, R-Brighton, and Sen. Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa, all voted against the bill. Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Boulder County, and Sen. Kevin Priola, D-Henderson, both prime sponsors of SB 159, voted for it.

Jaquez Lewis said at the beginning of the hearing that while the oil and gas industry is important to the state, the legislation is necessary to meet Colorado’s clean energy plans.

“Senate Bill 159 is a much needed, huge coalition-driven policy that demonstrates our commitment to our state’s climate goals and the need for policy change to realistically address climate change,” she said. “The oil and gas industry is important to Colorado, but in order to meet our clean energy goals we cannot keep drilling forever. This industry is the number one source of our severe air quality problem and it is negatively impacting public health.”

According the bill’s fiscal note, the legislation would mean a $305 million-a-year decrease to state revenue by 2034, “and by larger amounts in later years as production continues to decline.” Those revenue losses would be from lost severance taxes, oil and gas conservation levies, federal mineral leases, and State Land Board leases and royalties.

“The bill will reduce local government revenue, including school districts, by a net amount of $375 million annually by FY 2034-35, and larger amounts in later years, from reduced property tax revenue from oil and gas production,” the fiscal note said.

Marchman expressed concerns about how the bill would affect school funding.

“The fact that there is no plan to backfill schools and yet a plan to take away revenue leaves us with the very next [budget stabilization] factor before we even pay this one off,” she said. “It’s shortsighted and irresponsible to threaten it, and that’s why I can’t support it.”

Business and industry groups that opposed the legislation praised its failure.

“We are pleased that the committee voted decisively on behalf of thousands of families across our state whose livelihoods were threatened by the mere introduction of Senate Bill 24-159,” American Petroleum Institute Colorado Director Kait Schwartz said in a statement. “Even in its amended form, SB24-159 posed substantial threats to our industry’s economic contributions to the state. And even as the bill dies, our industry continues to face a suite of the most anti-oil-and-gas legislation in the history of Colorado.”

The Colorado Chamber of Commerce called SB 159 “one of the most hostile bills targeting the energy industry we’ve ever seen.”

“This is about preserving jobs, and members who voted ‘no’ tonight acted in support of the hundreds of thousands of Coloradans directly or indirectly employed by the energy industry,” Chamber President and CEO Loren Furman said. “We applaud their courage and support of the statewide business community.”

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