Fracking bills

Colorado needs a comprehensive restructuring of how extraction industries are regulated in our state. The Legislature should lead the process of getting rid of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. This regulatory construct isn't working for the benefit of the people of Colorado. It only works for the oil and gas industry. We need a regulatory structure that prioritizes the health and well-being of the people. The extraction industries play a role in our state's economic vitality, but so do many other industries that don't receive this special treatment.

The state should regulate overarching issues like ensuring companies are liable for accidents and negligence. They should also guarantee that cleanup costs are borne by the companies that profit from the extraction by collecting the money up front based on historical costs. The state should also study health, environmental and economic effects of the extraction industries and promulgate rules that mitigate these effects.

Local governments should be responsible for zoning regulations just as they are with every other industrial and commercial activity. This includes things like setback requirements from homes and schools, operating hours, noise levels, light pollution and all the rest. A city can mandate the size and shape of a sign, but is powerless to stop fracking in the middle of a neighborhood. That makes no sense.

The legislative measures proposed this year are good, but none have much chance of success. We should be thinking big in the meantime.