Oil/gas health-study bill passes committee

DENVER – Colorado lawmakers on the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on Tuesday narrowly voted to approve a bill proposing a study on possible health effects of oil and natural-gas development on the Front Range.

House Bill 1297, introduced by Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, and Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, would examine data from Larimer, Weld, Boulder, Broomfield, Arapahoe and Adams counties. A similar measure last year was defeated.

Tuesday’s 6-5 vote followed two weeks of postponed votes as committee members worked on the bill, which added Broomfield and Arapahoe counties to the study. The bill heads to the House Appropriations Committee.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment would conduct the study with involvement from a “scientific oversight committee” of nine voting members. Those members would include four others selected by Gov. John Hickenlooper, four members appointed by legislative leadership and also the chief medical officer for the state health department. The committee will include members of the oil and gas industry and environmental community as well as physicians, economists and scientists, as well.

Due Jan. 1, 2017, the final report would be submitted for publication in a scientific journal. The analysis will give people the information they need to make informed health decisions about oil and gas drilling, Ginal said in a statement.

“I have heard from many constituents who are concerned about what impacts the increased number of oil and gas wells might have on their family and community,” she said. “There are many studies on the effects of drilling on water and air quality, but there are no studies on how oil and gas drilling affects the health and quality of life of people living near wells on the Front Range.”

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