Senate Bill 181 vote

This is the final tally in the state House on Senate Bill 181 Friday morning.

The Colorado House voted 36-28 in favor of a bill allowing local control on oil and gas operations Friday morning.

Environmentalists, however, will have to wait a bit longer to celebrate Senate Bill 181 becoming law. Because it was amended in the House — after passing the Senate, 19-15, on March 13 — negotiators from both chambers will have to consolidate the two bills into one that can be agreed upon before the session ends on May 3.

Gov. Jared Polis is expected to sign the measure when it makes it to his desk.

Four Democrats voted against the bill on the House floor: Daneya Esgar of Pueblo, Bri Buentello of Pueblo. Don Valdez of La Jara and Briann Titone of Arvada.

Lawmakers debated a raft of amendments for five hours Thursday night, including a Republican effort to build in the possibility of a statewide vote on repealing the law.

The bill is sponsored by House Speaker KC Becker and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, both Democrats from Boulder, along with Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thorton, and Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette.

The bill had no Republican support in either chamber.

"I really want to commend the speaker, the industry and the community groups for their hard work on this bill," Caraveo said Friday morning.

"It was long-fought. It's something we've been trying to make changes on for years, and I hope we were able to — with the changes last night — protect the health, safety and welfare of some of the communities that are most affected by oil and gas operations.

Besides allowing local governments to set rules on where oil-and-gas operations are located, the bill instructs state regulators to put public health and the environment ahead of bolstering the industry.

Senate Bill 181 also calls for more monitoring on emissions that wells might create.

Oil and gas proponents says the regulations will harm a major industry for the state. Last year voters statewide overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 112, which would have mandated a 2,500 buffer for wells from schools, neighborhoods and businesses.

Rep. Rod Bockenfeld, R-Watkins, said the "arrogant" proposal creates uncertainty that will prompt the industry to leave or steer clear of Colorado. Each local election would create the potential to upend their investment here, he said.

"What we've done here is create an oil and gas policy  in the state of Colorado that has absolutely no consistency," Bockenfeld said.

He said CEOs, who evaluate risks, would see a location where one seat on a county commission could flip in an election "and the whole philosophy of that county could change — one seat and they could go in and revise their oil-and-gas policy."

Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, said just before Friday's vote, "SB 181 has the potential to economically destroy Colorado."  

Anne Lee Foster of the pro-Proposition 112 group Colorado Rising called the legislation "a step in the right direction."

"There were some very obvious loopholes granted to industry," she said of some of the amendments. "Rule-making will be critical in protecting Coloradans and making sure 181 fulfills the new mandate of prioritizing health and safety.

"Colorado Rising will be there to empower communities and fight for and our environment and public health."


Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect vote margin for Senate Bill 181's passage.

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