Legislative Report

Highlights Range from Instream Flow to Oil and Gas Development

 HB1298 PROTECT WILDLIFE FROM OIL/GAS DEVELOPMENT  (Gibbs, Tochtrop) Position: Support                                                                                    Status: Pending Senate action

HB1298 requires the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to consult with the Colorado DOW to promulgate rules protecting wildlife from the ramifications of oil and gas exploration. As introduced, it included a list of minimum protections to be included in the rulemaking, which unfortunately were removed in the House.  However, the heart of the bill, giving the DOW a voice in oil/gas decision-making, remains intact.

HB1012 ISF ABANDONMENT  (McNulty, Schwartz) Position: Support                                                                                    Status: Signed by Governor

HB1012 clarifies that a water right is not injured or abandoned by temporarily loaning it to the CWCB for instream flow purposes. The value of a water right is based on the amount actually used, the consumptive use, calculated using a thirty year historic average. Several water rights owners have expressed interest in loaning water for instream flow purposes, but were concerned that calculating a “zero” for consumptive use during the time of the loan significantly reduces the value of their water right.  This new law remedies that problem.

 SB122 CWCB PROJECTS BILL  (Isgar, Curry) Position: Support as amended                                                                 Status: Pending House action

There were several problems with the annual funding bill for the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The first was a proposed $150,000 study on the impact of instream flows and Recreational In-Channel Diversions on potential future water development – a study apparently designed to create a basis for weakening those programs.  That study has been removed.  The second problem was a $500,000 study of water availability in the Colorado River basin. As proposed, the study did not involve basin roundtables and focused on large new transbasin projects; we have successfully amended the study to ensure basin involvement and to redirect the study so that it will address ongoing issues around water availability and not focus only on large new transbasin projects.  Third, the bill proposed giving the CWCB authority to make loans of $25 million without legislative approval (the current cap is $5 million).  The proposed increase in loan authority was scaled back to $10 million.  Finally, the bill allocated $100,000 to study mitigation and moving of fens; efforts to remove that study from the bill failed.

HB1281 DOUBLE RENEWABLE ENERGY STANDARD  (Pommer, Schwartz) Position: Support                                                                                    Status: Signed by Governor

We enthusiastically support the doubling of the renewable energy standard created by Amendment 37. We remain concerned, however, by the treatment of hydropower.  The current size cap (10 megawatts) on hydropower carried forth from amendment 37 is not the best way to address impacts of hydropower. Small projects can be very harmful, totally dewatering streams – and some large projects may have minimal adverse effects.  We would much prefer “green” energy standards to focus on a hydropower project’s impacts, not its size. 

HB1341 MODIFY COGCC MEMBERSHIP  (Curry, Isgar) Position: Support                                                                        Status: Passed, awaiting House concurrence

HB1341 modifies the makeup of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which currently has seven members of whom five are industry representatives. Under HB1341 there will be nine members of the commission. Three shall be experts in oil and gas production, one shall have expertise in wildlife or the environment, one shall be a landowner in agricultural production who owns royalties, one shall represent local governments, one shall be an expert in health care, and the directors of DNR and CDPHE or their designees shall also be voting members.  The proposal should ensure that a broader range of interests are represented on decisions surrounding Colorado’s oil and gas development.