On Wednesday, May 8, 2013, the Colorado legislative session came to a close without any significant oil and gas legislation being passed by the state legislature.
The session was watched closely by the oil and gas industry given the ongoing lawsuits in Colorado that are pitting the state against municipalities over bans to hydraulic fracturing. A number of bills were introduced in the 2013 session, including proposed legislation that would have increased fines for oil and gas violations, increased groundwater testing at drilling sites, and changed the structure and focus of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). A total of ten bills were introduced on oil and gas issues in the 2013 session. Only one bill passed—HB 13-1278 which will lower the amount of a spill of oil or exploration and production waste that must be reported to the state and local authorities from 5 barrels to 1 barrel or more. It is anticipated that Governor Hickenlooper will sign this bill into law. A copy of the bill can be found here.
While the legislative session did not result in any significant oil and gas legislation, Governor Hickenlooper did sign an Executive Order that requires COGCC to review its enforcement program, penalty structure and imposition of fines. Among other things, the Executive Order directs COGCC to establish minimum fines in cases with egregious or aggravating factors, and to apply the statutory maximum fines as necessary to protect public health, safety, welfare and the environment. A summary of the Executive Order can be found here. A copy of the Executive Order can be found here.