CO Audubon Legislative Report

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AUDUBON LEGISLATIVE REPORT

6 February, 2020

We are about a month into the legislative session, and the action is heating up. Several early bills are already decided, and new bills will continue to come in at a rapid pace. We are approaching the most intense part of the session, and things can move very fast! It promises to be an exciting ride, and we can expect some procedural shenanigans, though hopefully not as painful as last year!

PRIORITY BILLS

*HB1070 OIL AND GAS TAKINGS                                                                        (Buck)

Position: Oppose                                                                                                Status: Dead

This was the fourth or fifth year for this bill. It required local governments to compensate the oil and gas industry for any claimed loss of value as a result of hydraulic fracturing bans or limitations. We have fought regulatory takings bills for over 30 years. Apparently we will have to continue fighting them in perpetuity. Fortunately, however, this bill died quickly in its first committee.

*HB1157 EXPAND ISF LEASING                                                            (Roberts/Donovan)

Position: Support                                                Status: House Rural Affairs & Agriculture (2/10)

HB1157 is our instream flow bill that was unexpectedly derailed last year. There are several tweaks from last year. Most notably, a prohibition on using the program for more than three consecutive years; and a requirement that expedited or “emergency” loans can only be used for one year before the applicant must comply with the more exhaustive administrative regulations of the leasing statute. Audubon’s top priority – in Committee Monday Feb. 10. ! Western Rivers Action Network director Abby Burke will testify for Audubon.

*HB1037 AUGMENTATION WATER FOR INSTREAM FLOW                        (Arndt/Coram)

Position: Support                                    Passed the House, now in Senate Agriculture Comm.

HB1037 is a rerun from last year. The bill permits the CWCB to use water for instream flow purposes, if the water has been decreed for augmentation without seeking a further change of use. This would create a new pool of water, with lower administrative costs, which could be available for instream use. Primarily aimed at restoring stream health on the Ft. Collins River Walk.

*HB1095 WATER PLAN ELEMENTS IN MASTER PLANS                         (Arndt/Bridges)

Position: Support                                                                                    Status: House Floor

HB1095 authorizes a local government master plan to include goals specified in the state water plan and to include policies that condition development approvals on implementation of those goals.   This should pass the House shortly.

*SB8 INCREASE PENALTIES FOR WATER QUALITY VIOLATIONS            (Winter/Jackson)

Position: Support                                                                        Status: Senate Agriculture Comm.

SB8 doubles the penalties CDPHE can assess for violations of water quality standards. It’s been several years since penalties were updated, and in some cases, violators are beginning to view fines as merely a cost of business. Doubling them is intended to return them to being an actual deterrent. Possibly won’t receive consideration until after the state Budget is passed.

*SB48 STRENGTHEN ANTISPECULATION                                    (Donovan, Roberts)

Position: Support                                                            Status: House Rural Affairs & Ag. Comm.

Colorado water law prohibits speculation (gambling on future needs in order to profit from water use). Unfortunately there have been several applications for water rights over the years which are speculative in nature. SB48 requires the Director of DNR to convene a work group to explore ways to strengthen the anti speculation doctrine. The group is to report recommended changes to the legislature by August, 2021. This passed the Senate quickly, should pass the House quickly also.

*HB1126 STATE APPROVE OIL/GAS                                                            (Saine/Marble)

Position: Oppose                                    Status: House Energy & Environment Comm. (2/10)

HB1126 turns the recent changes to oil/gas policies upside down. The bill requires that if any local government approves development of oil/gas facilities, the State must immediately follow suit, and permit the facility as well. Will be heard in Committee on Monday Feb. 10; hopefully will not pass. Jen will be testifying.

 

*SB10 REPEAL BAN ON LOCAL REGULATION OF PLASTICS            (Donovan/Froelich)

Position: Support                                                                                                            Status: Dead

SB10 merely eliminates the existing prohibition against local governments regulating the use of plastics. Voted down 3-2 in Senate Local Govt. Committee. There are two other plastics bills, see below.

 

OTHER BILLS

HB1172 NO ABANDONMENT FOR EFFICIENCY            – NEW                                    (Arndt)

Position: Support                                    Status: House Rural Affairs & Environment Comm.

HB1172 protects water rights owners from claims of abandonment for 20 years if they reduce their water demand due to improved efficiency. The intent is to encourage more efficient delivery practices, such as lining ditches. Often, users are reluctant to invest in such large scale efficiency measures, as they may not work, and they risk the value of their water right by using less water. The bill allows a twenty year period to determine if the efficiency measures are functional and adequate. If you don’t use, you won’t lose.

 

SB121 MANAGE WOLVES                 NEW                                                            (Donovan)
Position: Amend? Monitor?                                                Status: S-Agriculture & Nat. Resources

SB121 directs DNR to develop a management plan for gray wolves. The bill further directs the department to develop a schedule for. And begin a reintroduction program before the end of 2025. EXCEPT: reintroduction is delayed until a new source of revenue is developed for payment of wolf damage claims; AND reintroduction is canceled if the population becomes self sustaining first. Further, the bill makes damage payments only available to commercial livestock operators. Many environmental groups and livestock growers are opposed to this bill. If the ballot initiative passes it will supersede this bill; however the Legislature would have to pass implementation measures and find the money for compensating livestock owners if wolves kill livestock. Such a measure would look like this bill.

HB1072 WATER MGT EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES                        (Arndt/Sonnenberg)

Position: Support                                                            Status: House Appropriations Comm.

HB1072 requires CU to study emerging technologies such as telemetry, advanced aerial observation (drones), and blockchain (an un-hackable storage mechanism) for their potential value in improving the efficiency of water management.

 

HB1180 POLLINATOR PROTECTION                                                            (Kipp/Fields)

Position: Support            New Priority Bill                        Status: H-Energy & Environment Comm.

HB1180 requires the Commissioner of Agriculture to ban the use of neonictinoids and sulfoximines in outdoor pesticide applications. The bill permits the use of both substances in indoor applications, and for pet or personal pesticide protection. Should future compounds be developed which are equally effective, the bill allows the commissioner to ban the remaining uses at that time.

 

SB69 PARKS PASSES FOR DISABLED VETS                                                (Garcia)

Position: Support                                                                                    Status: Senate Floor

Current law allows disabled veterans with a disabled vets license plate to have free access to state parks. SB69 allows disabled Veterans to have that access by providing the documentation necessary for a license plate, but without the extra step of having to acquire the plate.

 

SB24 PUBLIC INPUT ON DEMAND MANAGEMENT                                    (Coram/Arndt)

Position: Monitor                                                                                                            Status: Dead

SB24 requires CWCB and the interim water committee to host public input sessions similar to the process for developing the Water Plan before adopting any rules or recommendations regarding Demand Management. While Public input is nearly always a positive, the process could delay implementation of demand management strategies for up to a year. Additionally, Demand Management proposals will likely be the result of interstate negotiations, and adding a requirement for public input could have a deleterious effect on the final product- especially if implementation is time sensitive. This bill stems from the realization by all parties that there isn’t enough Colorado River water to meet all current or future demands, so methods of sharing will have to be determined.

HB1097 MUNICIPAL USE WITHOUT CHANGE                                                (Young, Arndt)

Position: Support                                                            Status: House-Rural Affairs & Ag. Comm.

HB1097 is a highly technical bill, but in a nutshell it allows cities, in certain circumstances, to use water decreed for municipal use in different locations without going through a change case.

 

SB3 LOVE OUR PARKS                                                                                    (Garcia/Esgar)

Position: Support                                                            Status: Senate Appropriations Comm.

SB3 provides $10M for development of infrastructure; primarily for opening the new State Park at Fisher Peak. There is some debate about where the $$ will come from.

 

HB1159 SEO CONFIRM WATER USE BEFORE ISF                        (Roberts/Donovan)

Position: Monitor                                                Status: House Rural Affairs & Agriculture Comm.

Current law specifies that the Colorado water conservation board’s appropriation of water for instream flow purposes is subject to existing uses and exchanges of water. HB1159 is a bill that the River District has been working on for most of the last year. It requires the state engineer to confirm existing claims of use or exchange if the claims have not already been confirmed through decree.

 

HB1162 STYROFOAM BAN New Priority Bill                                                (Cutter/Foote)

Position: Support                                                Status: House Energy & Environment Comm.

HB1162 bans the use of polystyrene (Styrofoam) in to-go containers at retail food establishments. Includes all restaurants and ready-to-eat containers at grocery stores.

 

HB1004 WILDFIRE MITIGATION EDUCATION GRANTS                                    (Cutter/Lee)

Position: Monitor                                                                        Status: House Finance Comm.

HB1004 creates a grant program to provide education to landowners about existing resources available for wildfire mitigation on their properties. It is harmless as introduced, but bears watching for amendments that could be problematic, such as clear cutting or “logging for water”.

 

HB1163 BAN SINGLE USE PLASTIC                                                             (Valdez/Gonzales)

Position: Monitor                                                Status: House Energy & Environment Comm.

HB1167 creates a statewide ban on single use plastic bags (the ones from the grocery store and similar places), straws, stirrers, and polystyrene (styrofoam) to go containers. It also imposes a minimum fee of ten cents per bag for paper bags; and requires compliance by 2021. Doesn’t include anything medical, produce bags in grocery stores, film wrapping oon meat. The store keeps the fee except where local government has set up a method to distribute the funds from the fee.

 

HB1018 RENEWABLE NATURAL GAS STANDARD                                    (Sen. Hansen)

Position: Monitor                                                Status: House Energy & Environment Comm.

HB1018 requires the PUC to promulgate rules for utility use on “Renewable Natural Gas”. The bill defines RNG as biogas, biogas blends, hydrogen gas from renewable sources, and captured methane from a variety of non fossil sources. This bill is tangential at best, but there is some possibility for nefarious language changes that could impact water quality. It would be unlikely, but the bill still warrants our keeping tabs on it.

HB1045 ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAM FUNDING                        (Kennedy, Hansen)*

Position: Monitor                                                 Status: House Energy & Environment Comm.            HB1045 creates a formula for disbursement of State funds between two different low income assistance funds when there is less than $1M available for the programs from severance tax. Our only concern is the possibility for dangerous amendments.

HB1087 CPW PENALTY CLEANUP                                                                        (Will)

Position: Monitor                                                Status: Passed House, now to Senate

HB1087 is a cleanup of vague or obsolete language in the CPW wildlife violation statutes. It is largely nonsubstantive. The only piece that may be a bit controversial is removal of mandatory enhanced penalties for trophy poaching (Samson law). The enhanced penalties would be optional.

HB1164 NO TAP FEES FOR HOUSING AUTHORITY                                    (Rich/Zenzinger)

Position: Monitor                                                Status: House Transportation & Local Govt.

HB1164 exempts housing authorities from tap fees imposed by a conservancy district. Housing authorities are generally associated with affordable housing, and the bill is very specific that only tap fees imposed by a conservancy district are included in the exemption.

SB41 FREE PARKS PASS FOR NATIONAL GUARD                                    (Cooke, Beckman)

Position: Monitor                                                                        Status: Senate Appropriations

SB41 allow active members of the National Guard to receive free annual passes for State Parks; as long as the loss of revenue to CPW is backfilled by the legislature. If that piece is removed, we might want to revisit our position.

 

BILLS THAT ARE IMMINENT:

HBxxxx REPEAL BAN ON LOCAL REGULATION OF PESTICIDES

Position: Support                                                                                    Status: Waiting for Intro

This bill will eliminate the existing ban on local government implementing more stringent regulations on pesticide usage. Allowing local governments to be more stringent can significantly improve water quality in individual areas. The bill, however, will leave the state preemption in place specifically for use of pesticides on marijuana. Will be an Audubon priority bill.

Dr. Diana Bray: the Pro-Climate, Anti-Hick Candidate for U.S. Senate

by Lauren Swain
Dr. Diana Bray, the climate activist and US Senate candidate I’m honored to serve as field coordinator, is running against the anti-climate candidate, former governor John Hickenlooper, for the Democratic primary nomination.  We have just embarked on our petition drive to qualify for the primary ballot and very much need your endorsements, financial support, and outreach to other voters in order to succeed. Please volunteer for her petition drive here, and/or donate here.
Dr. Bray has proven to be the most qualified and vocal candidate in the Senate race to spread the truth that former Gov. Hickenlooper’s record of forcing hazardous fracking facilities into Colorado communities and otherwise implementing the fossil fuel industry’s anti-climate agenda in Colorado, disqualifies him for the nomination. She has been taking public action on behalf of the climate for a decade and initiated her resistance to Hickenlooper’s pro-drilling policies in response to his pursuit of tax-payer-funded legal action against Longmont’s citizen-initiated fracking ban in 2012. Since then, she has continued to fight Hickenlooper and the anti-climate power structure, in part by providing important support to citizen-led ballot initiatives against neighborhood drilling in 2014 and 2016, and especially to Proposition 112 in 2018. 
Conversely, former state legislator, Andrew Romanoff, the second-most successful fundraiser in the race, joined Hickenlooper in opposing the anti-drilling ballot measures in 2014 and has been largely silent on subsequent efforts. Yet Romanoff has managed to attract attention for recently distributing a video expressing his fears about the climate crisis.
Below are but a couple examples of recent media coverage on Dr. Bray’s valiant fight to hold Hickenlooper accountable by making sure that voters have every opportunity to learn about his anti-climate record and make their decisions accordingly.
This is my personal favorite CPR coverage featuring Diana meeting with fracking-impacted Broomfield residents supporting her and rejecting Hickenlooper in the Senate race:
Here is Diana’s opinion piece on the topic – published by the Colorado Sun:
Hickenlooper entered the US Senate race in August 2019, after many other Democratic candidates for had been pursuing their campaigns for months. Chuck Schumer and the establishment Democratic Senatorial Candidate Committee (DSCC), actively pursued and eventually prevailed in luring Hick away from his unsuccessful presidential bid to serve as their hand-picked candidate in the race.  Since then, the DC-based DSCC has been undermining grassroots Coloradans’ campaigns for other candidates remaining in the race, including Dr. Bray; two other progressive women candidates: Stephanie Rose Spaulding and Lorena Garcia; and former state house majority leader, Andrew Romanoff. I have observed there to be quite a bit of resentment against the DSCC’s behavior among Colorado Dems –  even among moderates.
Hickenlooper is far from a safe bet to beat his even more anti-climate opponent, Republican Cory Gardner, in the general election.  In addressing Schumer’s initial attempts to recruit him for the race, Hickenlooper stated publicly, on more than one occasion, that he is “not cut out to be a Senator”.  The Republicans and other corporate and conservative organizations supporting Gardner are well-positioned to use his quotes, as well as corruption charges that have been filed against him, and even, clandestinely, his terrible record on fracking, to help Gardner cross the finish line again.  And they will.
At minimum, Diana should be supported in the US Senate race to serve as the anti-Hick to fulfill her quest to assure that he does not take the nomination. Optimally, with support from those who want to assure that the climate crisis will remain front and center in future policy-making, she will prevail in the primary and general elections, to advance a climate of justice for our country and the planet.

URGENT: Stop Ivey drilling project

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) today to stop the hazardous Ivey drilling project in North Thornton, at this link . State that your comment pertains to all the Ivey well permits. Ask them to deny these permits.
Our health depends on it! Thanks!

http://cogcc.state.co.us/publicComment/?doc_num=402129777

Please submit comments regarding why this permit should be denied because the potential for hazardous emissions, spills, explosions, and fires makes siting this operation so near to homes and schools a threat to public health and safety.

North Thornton residents have been fighting back large scale fracking sites for years, trying to avoid the fate of neighboring Broomfield, which has been subjected to widespread residential drilling in 2019, with hundreds of residents reporting harsh fumes and acute health impacts to the COGCC. Also in 2019, dangerously elevated levels of benzene were detected near a school in Greeley next to a multi-well project, the Colorado Department of Public Health reported that “there is a possibility of negative health impacts at distances from 300 feet out to 2000 feet”; many accidents, explosions, spills, and fires have occurred at drilling sites on the Front Range; and the EPA has downgraded its air quality status for our area to “serious” non-attainment of federal ozone standards.

The most egregious proposed site is known as Ivey, located near 152nd and York, less than 1200 feet from new homes and 2,000 feet from Silver Creek Elementary School. The operator, Great Western, had to resubmit their drilling permits to the COGCC, which opened up a Public Comment period, expiring today Dec. 21. Thanks to the passage of  SB19- 181 this year, these wells can and should be DENIED by the COGCC.

If the COGCC were to approve this permit application, not only will these wells be drilled just 1200′ from homes in Richfield – against the interests of public health and safety as prioritized in SB 181, they are also in a designated Sensitive Wildlife area, a known air-inversion valley, abut a floodplain, and have been met with strong local resistance since first proposed. The air inversion alone means that thousands of homes will be impacted by the pollution and poor air quality caused by emissions from these sites. Please comment ASAP to the COGCC and let as many people as you can know that we need them to comment.

Sample comment:

Permits for this site should be denied, because the potential for hazardous emissions, spills, explosions, and fires makes siting this operation so near to homes and schools a threat to public health and safety.

Thornton residents should be protected from what occurred this year in neighboring Broomfield, where residents have been subjected to widespread neighborhood drilling and hundreds have reported harsh fumes and acute health impacts to the COGCC. Also in 2019, dangerously elevated levels of benzene were detected at a school next to a drilling site in Greeley; the Colorado Department of Public Health reported that “there is a possibility of negative health impacts at distances from 300 feet out to 2000 feet”; many accidents, explosions, spills, and fires have occurred at drilling sites on the Front Range; and the EPA has downgraded its air quality status for our area to “serious” non-attainment of federal ozone standards, in large part due to the ever increasing number of oil and gas operations.

The Ivey site is less than 1200 feet from new homes and 2,000 feet from Silver Creek Elementary School. To comply with the mandate of SB19-181, permits for these wells should be denied by the COGCC. This applies to all Ivey wells. There is no justification for approving any drilling permit at Ivey.

Thank you!

 

7/29 APCD EARLY STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITY

The Air Pollution Control Division (Division) is holding the first of several public meetings to engage stakeholders on potential revisions to the Air Quality Control Commission’s Regulations Number 3 and 7, addressing ozone, greenhouse gas (GHG) and more. Note that this is the Division’s first step of many to come in addressing recent legislation in Colorado.
The Division will identify the goals behind a potential rulemaking, identify timing, and then share an overview of potential rule revisions and emission reduction strategies relating to:
  • Early permitting of oil and gas exploration and production facilities
  • State Implementation Plan (SIP) reasonably available control technologies (RACT) requirements for major sources (those having a permit to emit 50 tons per year or more) of VOC and/or NOx in the Denver Metro/North Front Range
  • SIP streamlining revisions
  • Recent revisions to Colorado Revised Statute (CRS) Section 24-7-109 (SB 19-181 concerning emissions control for oil and gas operations)
Meeting
Date: July 29, 2019

Time: 2:00 to 7:00 P.M.
Location: CDPHE, Sabin and Cleere rooms
4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, Colorado 80246

Each person interested in attending and/or providing public comment is requested to register in advance, as space is limited to 120 persons.
Comments may also be submitted to cdphe.commentsapcd@state.co.us, Subject: Fall 2019 Rulemaking. An agenda, with adobe connect link, and concept document will be provided to those who registered prior to the meeting.

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper Apologizes for Non-Consensual Fracking, Seeks Treatment

Hick

Former Gov. John Hickenlooper held a press conference this morning to express his solemn regrets for fracking Colorado neighborhoods without the consent of those being fracked.  He admitted that he has been seeking treatment for methane addiction and swore that he would do everything in his power to avoid making communities uncomfortable with his oil and gas advances in the future.

(Happy April Fool’s Day from The Mind’s Eye!)

Save money, pass SB19-181

To the Colorado Senate Finance Committee:

The state of Colorado will prosper if SB-181 passes and will suffer financially and in countless other ways if it fails to pass.
We must pass this bill or increasing numbers of wells will continue to be permitted in and near our communities without regard to local zoning provisions and without the new emission-control provisions of the bill. Continuing permitting under current laws will expose more Coloradans to dangerous levels of ozone pollution and air toxins from production emissions and truck traffic. It is well documented that such exposure will contribute to more health problems, including asthma attacks. Treating those health problems will be very costly to Medicaid and other state health programs and to employers whose workers will miss work taking care of themselves or their sick children. We need a healthy population to have a healthy economy, and we need to reform our oil and gas laws to maintain a healthy population.
Furthermore, without passage of SB-181, increasing amounts of residential drilling will degrade the value of Colorado real estate, reducing property tax revenue and increasing the burden on social programs.
Most obviously, without the protections provided by SB-181, the industry itself will not be required to pay appropriately for the costs of inspections, regulation, reclamation, and other fiscal impacts. Current bonding requirements in particular are far below what is required to properly reclaim drilling sites. Without passage of SB-181, taxpayers will be left with the bill to reclaim thousands of wells, while the industry either moves on to greener pastures or continues to fall into increasing debt due to price suppression resulting from continued overproduction and the depletion of the resource itself.
Many ignore another obvious benefit of slowing down the permitting process in favor of health and safety – more of the resource itself will be available for future generations to use and profit from. Less production is likely to mean less waste, and a higher price for the product in the long run.
And of course, slowing down production by prioritizing health and safety will give us more time to resolve the climate crisis and switch to a renewable energy economy. That will mean Colorado has a greater chance of avoiding the catastrophic economic costs of the increasingly severe droughts, fires, floods that will accompany the climate disruption caused by current levels of production and consumption of oil and gas.
We can and must do better. Please pass SB-181 to put Colorado on the right path to economic progress and reduce our dependence on risky fossil fuel production.
-Lauren Swain, video@mindseyeworld.com