PART 1: Senate Bill 181 passed. What’s next? 

Last year, the Colorado legislature passed Senate Bill 181, momentous legislation that transformed the way Colorado regulators approach the oil and gas industry. Today, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is focused on protecting public health and safety rather than maximizing industry profits.

But, the change isn’t complete.

Rules have to be made to ensure that the agency will fulfill their new mission of putting people, wildlife and the environment first. Real people and communities can benefit from this mission change, but only if we work together to build power in our communities and ensure that every voice is heard. 

Beau Kiklis

Beau Kiklis, Public Lands Advocate

And, the key to power is understanding the process of bureaucracy. If you know where and when to show up, you can make a difference. In our Majority Rules blog series, we will demystify what’s coming next in the rulemaking process and amplify the stories of change makers who are actively holding industry accountable. 

To start our series, Beau Kiklis, Conservation Colorado’s Public Lands Advocate, answered questions that are top-of-mind as Colorado decision makers move to deliver on their directive to put the environment first.

  • What does Senate Bill 181 do?

    During the 2019 legislative session, Colorado’s legislature passed Senate Bill 181, which made overdue changes to how the oil and gas industry is governed in Colorado. The main change was to direct the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to prioritize public health, safety, welfare, the environment, and wildlife over industry profits.

  • What are the consequences of Senate Bill 181?

    Senate Bill 181 was a monumental stride, but the COGCC’s interpretation and implementation of the bill will determine the most significant impacts on the lives of everyday Coloradans. Ultimately, the COGCC will interpret the statute through a series of rulemakings, and those rules will determine what steps the oil and gas industry must take to protect Coloradans health and our environment. 

  • Why do we have an agency like the COGCC?

    Senate Bill 181 provided the COGCC with a clear directive to protect public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife. While that directive sounds great, what does it actually mean to protect these values? Agencies like the COGCC fill the gaps between legislation and reality. Bound to the authority of the law, the COGCC has the power to make rules that shape how our state is protected from oil and gas development.

  • Where do I fit in the rulemaking process?

    Thankfully, we can all participate in rulemakings. We can submit a public comment to the agency or attend a hearing and testify in front of the COGCC. But participation doesn’t have to be limited to agency protocol — you can make a difference in your community by speaking up and elevating the experiences of those directly impacted.

Beau Kiklis and Katherine mountain biking

Mollie (left), Kathryn, and Beau mountain biking in Colorado

Ultimately, rulemakings matter because they impact the people, places, and wildlife we love in Colorado. And rules built around the needs of the majority protect the wellbeing of all who call Colorado home.

In the coming weeks, we’ll share a range of stories and informative resources that demonstrate the grave consequences of a profit-driven oil and gas industry, and contrast those testimonies with the positive impacts new rules can create. From an activist who previously worked on an oil rig to families who were kept in the dark about new drilling development, stick with us for stories from Colorado residents who are fighting for a healthy, just future.

We agree with them, and the majority of Coloradans: rules should protect the people, places, and wildlife we cherish.

Want to get involved? Submit a comment to the COGCC!