04/05/2011 01:24 pm ET Updated Jun 05, 2011

Bill To Alter Colorado Oil And Gas Conservation Commission Makeup Clears House Committee

The House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee approved a Republican-sponsored bill on Monday that would alter the makeup of the state agency that regulates oil and natural gas in Colorado.

House Bill 1223 (embedded below), sponsored by Republican Representative Ray Scott and Senator Steve King, seeks to restore some the influence that the energy industry lost on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after new regulations took effect in 2009.

The bill, as passed by the committee on Monday on a 6-5 vote, would add two members to the currently-nine-member Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. Prior to the 2009 regulations, which were championed by Democratic Governor Bill Ritter, the Commission consisted of seven members, with five coming from the energy industry. Ritter's new rules added two new members to dilute industry influence on the board.

House Bill 1223 stipulates that the two new Commission members must come from the oil and gas industry. It would also make representatives from the Division of Natural Resources and the department of public health non-voting members.

Scott told the Durango Herald on Monday that Ritter's regulations, which entailed reforms beyond the composition of the Oil and Gas Commission, were killing jobs in the state.

"Right now, we're losing. The other states are doing things to compete against us, and they're winning," he said.

Nonetheless, Colorado issued nearly 6,000 oil and gas permits in 2010, the third highest total in state history.

In a release on Monday, Elise Jones, Executive Director of Colorado Environmental Coalition, was critical of the bill.

"This bill would take our state backwards, reversing our progress in ensuring balanced energy development in Colorado," Jones said.