Two Democrats joined the Republicans in the Colorado House of Representatives on April 4, 2016, to defeat a bill that sought to assert local government control over oil and gas drilling.
Drilling operations in Colorado have begun moving from rural communities into more populated areas, which has led to an outcry against oil and gas operations in suburban neighborhoods. Aware of the frustration, Governor John Hickenlooper formed a task force in 2015 to propose rules around local governance. The task force was intended to be a compromise that would address the concerns of the public while avoiding a ballot initiative that would give local governments the authority to ban hydraulic fracturing. But for some, the task force did not actually resolve any of the public’s concerns. Democratic Rep. Mike Foote of Lafayette, one of the bill’s sponsors, said, “The current system works very, very well for the industry. It doesn’t work so well, though, if you’re in these neighborhoods, particularly along the Front Range, and you want to have a meaningful say in what happens.” Though supporters of the bill claimed it was just a restatement of authority local governments already have, the bill reinitiated the debate on state-versus-local authority over the energy industry. Continue Reading