GREELEY — A ballot initiative effort that seeks to repeal Senate Bill 181 and put in place a new Colorado Oil and Gas regulatory board has passed its first test before the Colorado Legislative Legal Services.
Weld County Commission Chairwoman Barbara Kirkmeyer told Complete Colorado on Sunday that four initiatives filed by her and former Arapahoe County Commissioner John Brackney will now move to the Title Board.
SB 181, which would make sweeping changes to oil and gas regulation in Colorado, has passed out of the legislature and awaits action by Governor Polis. Kirkmeyer has previously said the damages from 181 to the state — and especially to Weld County — are numerous and possibly devastating.
The initiatives, now named The Oil and Gas Independent Regulation Act, have four different versions to make sure all requirements were met, but only one will make its way to signature gathering, and will need just under 125,000 signatures from registered Colorado voters to make it onto the ballot. The number of signatures needed is equal to 5 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last election for Secretary of State.
The final text of the initiatives can be found here:
Kirkmeyer said Legislative Council staff outlined the ballot purposes as:
- Restructuring and renaming the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to the Independent Oil and Gas Regulatory Commission.
- Change the purpose of the oil and gas regulatory body.
- Create a modern, robust, and independent regulatory structure to foster and regulate responsible oil and gas production in Colorado.
- Reasonably and in a fact-based manner, balance the protection of private property rights, both surface and mineral; local input and priorities, including mitigation of impacts on local communities; and the protection of public health, safety, and the environment.
- Replace the current regulatory structure with a structure that protects critical decisions about the regulation of oil and gas from undue political influence by any one political party, special interest, or elected official or appointees.
- End the political appointment of oil and gas regulators and create a mechanism by which appointments are made by a selection panel composed of retired justices and judges based on nominations made by a group of high-ranking state public officials representing different major political parties.
- Ensure that oil and gas development that supports the state economy and creates jobs across the state can continue in a way that balances protecting the public health and the environment.
- Create a commission that will independently monitor, foster, an regulate oil and gas development in this state through impartial and balanced professional experts managed and overseen by the independent commission.
- Ensure local governments have direct input in the commission’s oil and gas development decisions in local communities.
- Give the commission independent control over use of funds and exempt commission funding from the state revenue and spending limits under the state constitution.
- Repeal Senate Bill 19-181 if that bill is enacted.
- Create a framework and authority for comprehensive regulation of oil and gas development in the state and to preempt any statutory or regulatory provision in conflict or inconsistent with amended statutes.
Kirkmeyer said the meeting with legal services went well, and they outlined several areas Kirkmeyer and Brackney could clarify to make sure the initiative was consistent with provisions of the Colorado Constitution.
Kirkmeyer and Brackney said that Colorado voters are tired of political wars over oil and gas. They want an independent commission with checks and balances.
Kirkmeyer said previously that she, along with other members of the Weld County Board of Commissioners, tried to work with Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder and Gov. Jared Polis, also a Boulder Democrat, on amendments to SB 181 to no avail.
The Title Board hearing is set for April 17, but there is no time set as of this publication. Check back to Complete Colorado for more updates.