State Rep. Lori Saine, a Republican who represents constituents rocked by a recent fatal oil and gas industry-related home explosion in Firestone, strongly opposes a bill introduced Friday morning that would require the drilling industry to make available well flowline mapping data to regulators and the public.
“This tragedy is very fresh in my mind. It’s frustrating — this legislation is being introduced without the input of any stakeholders from my community and it doesn’t add anything to move the conversation forward,” she said. “In fact, it would delay the process already being pursued by the governor to increase public safety.”
Saine called a the bill a “knee-jerk reaction.” She said the minority Republican caucus in the House opposes the bill and she suspects Senate Republicans would also oppose it.
House Bill 1372 was introduced Friday morning and assigned to the House State Affairs committee, where it will be heard Friday afternoon. The legislative session ends Wednesday.
The sponsors, gas patch Democratic Reps. Mike Foote from Lafayette and Steve Lebsock from Thornton, are acting in response to resident concerns in the wake of the April 17 house explosion. Two men were incinerated in the blast while working on a water heater in a basement filled with unrefined odorless gas from an abandoned and uncapped oil and gas well flowline.
The sponsors said they were unsure whether Colorado drilling regulators had the explicit statutory authority to require operators to produce flowline map data.
Oil and gas politics at the Capitol has long been a charged partisan business. Republicans consistently stand as a bloc against regulation.
“I see this [bill] as a spiking of the political football,” said Saine. “We already have a process in place… We have [line-]abandonment procedures in place They’re pressure testing the lines. I would just say let it work without adding another layer of complexity and confusion. Let the process happen…”
Lebsock and Foote said they called Saine immediately after they received the green light from House leaders to introduce a late bill.
“Sure, they called, but I told them this is not OK to jump the gun — the investigation is still ongoing.”
Foote said that he and Lebsock will continue to reach out. He said the bill is about about public safety, not politics. The sponsors say they are speaking with representatives of the industry, local governments and the governor’s office.
“This was an isolated incident, human error,” Saine said about the explosion. “I feel safe in my community.”