Rep.-elect Wilson to introduce water monitoring, electric car bills
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Legislation aimed at developing a high-tech method for continuous water quality monitoring around natural gas frac’ing operations is among the bills state Rep.-elect Roger Wilson plans to introduce when he takes the House District 61 seat in the Colorado Legislature next week.
The focus of the ground-water monitoring bill will be to create a demonstration project in cooperation with the state’s universities to do ongoing, real-time monitoring using electronic sensor networks around well sites, the Glenwood Springs Democrat said this week as he prepares to be sworn into office on Jan. 12.
“Rather than having individuals conducting infrequent sampling, the idea is to use inexpensive, widely deployed sensor networks to do the monitoring on an ongoing basis,” Wilson said.
The purpose isn’t to determine what’s in the frac’ing fluids used by natural gas producers, but to find out what is already present in the ground water in these areas and how that fluctuates.
“We should be able to know that without someone getting sick as our evidence that there’s a problem,” Wilson said. “I believe it is something that will be in the interests of the mineral producing companies, to help ensure that their processes are safe.”
Wilson – who defeated three-term incumbent representative Kathleen Curry of Gunnison, the Democrat-turned-independent who ran as a write-in candidate in the Nov. 2, 2010 election, and Republican Luke Korkowski of Mt. Crested Butte for the right to represent the five-county district – has made the environment, tourism and energy a key emphasis of his legislative agenda.
The freshman legislator also plans to introduce a bill that would create the necessary infrastructure around the state to encourage the use of electric vehicles, which he calls “Connect Colorado.”
“A lot of the details are still to be determined, but at a minimum I would like to see CDOT [Colorado Department of Transportation] allow for charging stations to be put at key locations,” Wilson said.
“It’s a way to identify Colorado as a place where people can come and visit, and be clean in their practices while touring a clean state,” he said.
The goal is to implement such a measure without creating mandates, he said.
“Colorado has already built a reputation for its sustainable energy products, and I see this as another opportunity to grow commerce,” Wilson said. “Electric vehicle technology is a part of that image.”
Other bills which Wilson is considering – among the five he is allowed to introduce – will likely revolve around instream water flows and water rights geared toward recreation and environmental protections, and building the state’s tourism economy. However, details and bill titles are pending at this point, he said.
Wilson is also working on a bill to create a special Trout Unlimited vehicle license plate, where people can voluntarily pay an extra fee in support of the nonprofit organization which works to protect Colorado’s fishing streams.
House Democrats recently appointed Wilson to serve on two committees he views as crucial to the interests of District 61 and the state as a whole, the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee and the Business Development Committee.
“This will put me in a good position to work on the major issues of concern here, and offer amendments to the various bills that pass through those committees,” he said.
A major focus when state legislators convene for the 2011 session will of course be the state budget shortfall, which is projected to be in the range of $1.1 billion over the next two years.
“I will have the task of monitoring what’s going on with the Joint Budget Committee and lobbying on decisions that will affect our district,” he said.
That includes a broad range of issues from state parks, water and land decisions to both K-12 and higher education, prisons and health and human services, Wilson said.
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Images of mud and debris slides on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon near Bair Ranch (MM129) taken on Wednesday, Aug 4.