Bill proposes state-led oil and gas health study

Activists said they planned to testify this afternoon before the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee at the Statehouse in support of a bill proposing a study on possible health effects of oil and natural-gas development on the Front Range.

House Bill 1297, sponsored by Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, and Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, would examine data from Adams, Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties. The study would cost nearly $570,000 through fiscal 2017.
The legislators introduced a similar measure last year which was defeated.
The study would be conducted by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment with input from a “scientific oversight committee” consisting of nine voting members, including the chief medical officer for the state health department as well as four members appointed by legislative leadership and four others appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The final report would be due Jan. 1, 2017, and would be submitted for review for publication in a scientific journal.

Activists from Weld Air and Water in Greeley said they would testify in favor of the bill at the Capitol in Denver Thursday afternoon. The activists plan to share their concerns about oil and gas activity in urban areas such as Greeley.

Lawmakers on the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee are expected to vote on the bill following testimony, a Ginal aide said. If the bill passes the health and insurance committee, it will head to the House Appropriations Committee.

The bill comes as oil and gas development booms in Northern Colorado. The activity has stirred controversy throughout the Front Range, with Fort Collins, Lafayette, Boulder, Broomfield and Longmont adopting restrictions on oil and gas extraction.

A coalition of activist groups also recently submitted language to the Colorado Legislative Council for a constitutional amendment to give local governments authority to regulate oil and natural-gas development.

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