Oil and gas bill passes Colorado Senate
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A bill that requires new rules for oil and gas disposal facilities away from state-regulated well pads has cleared the state Senate, according to a local group tracking the issue.House Bill 1414 – which was sponsored by Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, and Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction – would prohibit the building of oil and gas waste facilities less than a half-mile away from residences and require synthetic liners to prevent wastes from infiltrating the groundwater, according to the legislation.The bill would also require that companies have contingency plans to respond to emergencies and make financial assurances for closure and reclamation costs of a storage facility.It passed the state Senate on Tuesday, according to members of the Western Colorado Congress.Penry said the impetus behind the bill was concerns about oil and gas waste facilities like evaporation ponds, which are currently being placed in Mesa County and surrounding communities. In DeBeque, companies are proposing to install evaporation ponds “right in town,” Penry said.Conversations Penry has had with industry leaders also convinced him that companies should no longer use clay-pit liners and instead use synthetic liners in their waste pits. Penry was not immediately available for comment late Tuesday.Oil and gas storage pits away from state-regulated well pads are regulated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Penry said. House Bill 1414 would bring rules for those facilities closer in line with current Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules, which Penry called more stringent.Mesa County resident Kim Weber testified on behalf of the bill because of her experience living about a mile from the Black Mountain oil and gas disposal facility south of DeBeque. She said the facility uses outdated clay liners.Weber said she has concerns about water with drilling chemicals being poured into pits, which may later evaporate off into the air or seep through clay liners “into the ground and into the water.”Although Weber testified in support of the bill, she said she would still like to see the setback requirements in the bill increased from a half-mile.”I feel a mile is too close,” Weber said. “But I am happy that at least we are getting a half-mile.”Duke Cox, interim executive director for the Western Colorado Congress, said he was pleased the bill passed the Senate Tuesday and that Buescher and Penry agreed something “needed to be done” about the issue.Cox said the WCC, a grassroots advocacy organization, began working on the issue in November 2006 when DeBeque residents spoke to the group about concerns about the disposal pits.”It takes awhile, but if you are persistent, it works,” Cox said.Contact Phillip Yates: email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
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