Landmark Legislation Advances Colorado’s Environmental Leadership and Protects Communities

Colorado legislation delivers major reforms for oil and gas regulation

April 3, 2019
Matt McGee, (512) 691-3478,

(DENVER, Colo.) The Colorado Senate today adopted SB 19-181, landmark reforms to strengthen oversight of oil and gas operations across the state. The bill now heads to Gov. Polis’ desk and is expected to be signed into law. 

SB 19-181 directs the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to conduct a rulemaking that will strengthen well integrity standards to prevent groundwater pollution and catastrophic well blowouts, such as the one in 2017 near Hudson, CO that spilled over 28,000 gallons of oil, gas and drilling wastewater. Colorado has not conducted any major updates to its well integrity rules in nearly a decade, and in some key areas the state’s rules are weaker than the American Petroleum Institute’s recommended voluntary practices.

Additionally, SB 19-181 also directs the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to introduce the next generation of methane standards that build on Colorado’s legacy as the first state in the nation to adopt rules to cut methane emissions. Those provisions call on the AQCC to consider continuous monitoring technology in suburban and urban communities and implement semi-annual leak detection and repair requirements at all wells across the state.

Notably, SB 19-181 professionalizes the COGCC to ensure science and technology drive decision-making – a change the oil and gas industry supported. The legislation also alters COGCC’s mission to prioritize protection of public health and the environment and empowers local governments to regulate surface activities and air quality.

“Today is a victory for the people of Colorado. SB 19-181 will expand Colorado’s leadership on methane and curb emissions of this dangerous greenhouse gas, while also helping prevent catastrophic well explosions that threaten our communities. As the Trump administration continues its assault on federal methane protections, it is more important than ever that Colorado respond by boldly cutting methane and fighting climate change.

“This legislation would not have been possible without the tireless and fierce leadership of Gov. Jared Polis, Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, House Speaker KC Becker and COGCC Director Jeff Robbins.”

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