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Colorado State Representative Jerry Sonnenberg has introduced House Bill 1356 that would prohibit local governments from receiving state severance tax funds if they “in any way restrict or delay” oil and gas development.

This bill is all but dead but if you live in Colorado call your State Representative and Senator and urge them to vote no on HB 1356. Not only does this regressive legislation need to be killed before the 2012 legislative session ends this month but also Colorado needs to hear loud and clear that we don’t ever want to see the likes of this bill again.

New Mexico dealt with almost identical legislation for two years running. Local governments came out of the woodwork in opposition to those bills and they were soundly defeated. But getting soundly defeated one year did not mean industry didn’t try it again. And now here it is popping up in Colorado just when the Governor’s task force on local oil and gas regulations didn’t deliver the ax to the ability of towns and counties to regulate oil and gas development.

On Colorado’s Front Range, which is experiencing a drilling boom, many local governments are considering adopting oil and gas regulations as well as ordinances that prohibit drilling within city limits.

Counties with oil and gas and other types of mineral development bear the most impact and should be recipients of severance tax funds – regardless of the regulations and safeguards they have in place!

One of the core ideas behind “severance” taxes is to give something back to the regions that have minerals that have been “severed” – or “extracted” from the earth. Once they are gone, they are gone. Severance taxes provide communities with an opportunity to develop projects and programs that will have a lasting legacy.

This bill is just another attempt to punish counties that have adopted (or are considering adopting) common sense regulations that prevent and minimize the impacts caused by oil and gas development. 

Which state will industry target next?

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