Sen. Marble Votes Against Council and Her Constituents Who Supported Increased Reporting of Oil and Gas Incidents

On April 19, Sen. Marble (R-District 23) voted against HB 18-1157 Increased Reporting of Oil and Gas Incidents, killing the bill with a 5-6 vote in the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, & Energy Committee.  Broomfield City Council had voted unanimously on March 13 to support the bill and it had passed the House.  Mayor Ahrens testified on behalf of the City for HB 18-1157 in the House on March 14.  On April 19, Broomfield residents Lizzie Lario, Laura Sellers, John Dulles and Jean Lim (author) testified for the bill in front of Sen. Marble in the committee and appealed for Sen. Marble’s support for Broomfield residents in the face of the Extraction 84 well development proposal.

Sen. Marble did not ask any questions during testimony or make any closing comments before her vote against the bill. She did not speak with Broomfield residents during a short recess before the vote.  The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and the Colorado Petroleum Council (CPC) were the only opponents who testified against the bill.

Joining the four Broomfield residents speaking in favor of increased reporting were the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the Colorado Municipal League and LOGIC (League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans).  Sen. Fenberg (D- District 18), Rep. KC Becker (D-District 13) and Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-District 11) were the bill sponsors.

Sen. Fenberg stated that increased reporting was very important since oil and gas development had been expanding into residential neighborhoods.  He stated that the current COGCC rules allowing self-reporting by industry and allowing them to define “significant damage” were inadequate.  The bill would have done this:

  • Require oil and gas operators to file written reports to the COGCC and other affected stakeholders including local governments, emergency responders and the surface owner where the spills have occurred within twenty-four hours of the discovery of the spill.
  • The information to be provided in the report would have included; the date, time and location of the event, a detailed map or aerial photograph of the site, whether the location is in a sensitive area, the proximity of the nearest residence, the specific nature of the event, a description of any resulting damage or injury, whether emergency responders were needed and the length of time required for subsequent clean-up. In addition, the cause of any death or injury that occurred must be disclosed.
  • The COGCC would make any reports filed along with an annual summary of all reports filed available to the public on its website in a database that is searchable by operator, location, type of event, date and other criteria established by the COGCC.

Broomfield resident Lizzie Lario testified, “Living in Broomfield, where Extraction Oil and Gas is proposing an 84 well project, this bill is especially relevant to me and my family, as well as friends and neighbors. Extraction Oil and Gas is the same company whose Stromberger Site in Windsor suffered an explosion, the exact cause of which is still unknown. If an explosion of that nature were to happen at either the future Livingston Pad, or any of the well pads Extraction is proposing, the results would be much different than one worker being injured. They would be catastrophic.”

John Dulles called on the Senate Committee to pass the “reasonable measure” and pointed out that the bill was not prohibiting anything and was not punitive.  Laura Sellers stated that she was a breast cancer survivor who saw this bill as providing additional legal safeguards to ensure that residents were safe near oil and gas developments, especially in light of recent studies that point to increased risks of cancer living near oil and gas wells.

Jean Lim submitted a chart to the Senate committee showing the number of homes near the proposed Extraction well pads.

She testified that it had been impossible to find the online COGCC report on Extraction’s involvement in the October 29 mud spill in Berthoud.  The mud spill was caused by the drilling of Extraction’s horizontal well 3000 feet away from an improperly plugged and abandoned well.  After seeing an article in an area paper, Jean could not find the online COGCC report.  She called the newspaper reporter who also said that she could not find the online COGCC report but had contacted Todd Hartman of the COGCC via email to get it.  Jean finally got the report a few days later via email from Mr. Hartman and sent it to the City.

Morgan Cullen of the Colorado Municipal League said that he supported the bill because local emergency units need clearer reports and a greater number of them to be able to anticipate and prepare for local emergencies around oil and gas wells.  Doug Wilsack of the COGCC supported the bill because there needed to be “a single repository for all of this [accident] information.”

Representing the industry, COGA and CPC said that they opposed the bill because a high standard of reporting already existed and because the bill’s provisions needed to be more “precisely tailored.”  When Sen. Matt Jones (D-District 17) asked the CPC representative if the bill was laid over to be amended if he would then support the bill, the industry representative said no, the bill was unnecessary.

The bill was defeated in a party line 5-6 vote in the Senate committee, with Sen. Marble (R-District 23) opposing the bill.