Colorado Democrats have launched efforts in the legislature to go after oil and gas producers, proposing a bill to increase the maximum penalty for pollution.
“We’re giving people who are experiencing harmful pollutants and the effects of these pollutants an opportunity to decide how they should be made whole,” Representative Dominique Jackson, a Democrat from Aurora told Westword.
In most cases, state law currently allows regulators at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to impose a penalty of $15,000 per day for an air-quality violation and $10,000 per day for a water-quality violation. House Bill 1143, introduced on Friday, January 17, would raise both figures to $47,357 — the maximum allowed under federal law — beginning in 2021, and adjust it annually from there.
Under the bill, any penalties or fines collected by CDPHE regulators through an enforcement action would flow into a new community impact fund. An environmental-justice advisory board, made up of four members appointed by the legislature and three members appointed by CDPHE’s executive director, would be tasked with collaborating with residents of communities impacted by pollution to fund specific “environmental mitigation projects.”