Gov. Jared Polis signed into law Tuesday afternoon a controversial measure overhauling how the state regulates the oil and gas industry.
Senate Bill 181 was one of the most controversial pieces of legislation this session, meeting opposition from virtually every Republican in the state and the energy industry.
The General Assembly gave final approval to the measure on April 3.
The law, which takes effect immediately, changes the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission’s mission to prioritize health and safety over industry development. The commission will now include an environmental expert and public health expert.
The law also gives local governments more say to regulate the industry themselves.
“Let me be clear, this bill gives the industry and our residents certainty and comfort, and Colorado will be the better for it,” Polis said during a Tuesday bill signing news conference.
"This bill is good for Colorado. This bill is good for the energy industry. This bill is good for workers. This bill is good for the environment. This bill is good for residents who live in oil and gas areas. And this bill is great for the future of Colorado," he added.
A study commissioned by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) says the industry contributes $1 billion in tax revenue annually and employs 89,000 people in the state.
Less energy development would mean less tax revenue, opponents of the bill say.
Another study estimated that if the new regulations were to shut down half of new oil and gas production, the state would lose 120,000 jobs and $8 billion in tax revenue by 2030.
Weld County officials were some of the most critical of the bill, saying it would cripple the most important industry in the county and state. Weld County is the state’s top energy producer.
The Colorado Senate GOP tweeted that the bill amounts to “anti-oil and gas regulations that threaten thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue.”
A joint statement released by COGA and the Colorado Petroleum Council after the bill passed the General Assembly, said, “While a few critical amendments were added that begin to address some of industry’s concerns and provide a degree of certainty to our member companies, our industry remains firmly opposed to this bill because it threatens one of the pillars of Colorado’s economy.”