DENVER - The House approved Colorado's new gas and oil rules Friday in a lopsided vote that didn't reflect the acrimony surrounding the issue.
House Bill 1292 passed on a 50-12 vote because it granted approval to all the rules every state agency passed over the last year, including the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Republican leaders urged their party to vote for the bill in order to keep all the other rules on track. Still, a dozen Republicans, including Scott Tipton of Cortez, voted "no". Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, explained his "no" vote.
"I am not willing to throw the oil and gas industry under the bus for the sake of the other rules I agree with," Sonnenberg said.
The rules are designed to protect public health and wildlife, but some gas companies say they will hurt the industry. The debate remained emotional until the end.
Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, challenged supporters of the rules to visit laid-off energy workers in his district.
"Don't stand here and say we're not hurting their jobs until you look them in the eye," Gardner said.
Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, turned the challenge back on Gardner.
"I'd offer the same invitation to visit my folks. How about the 400 people who complained last year about contamination in their water wells?" Curry said.
Curry said the COGCC told her Thursday that it will take a new look at one of the most controversial rules May 6. That rule allows the state health department and Division of Wildlife to appeal COGCC decisions to grant drilling permits.
The new May 6 rulemaking will consider removing the appeal rights for those two agencies, Curry said.
The Senate will consider HB 1292 next.