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State Senators Debate Overhaul To Colorado's Energy Office

DENVER (CBS4) - Tensions ran high on the state Senate floor on Monday as lawmakers debated a bill that would determine the future of Colorado's Energy Office.

Funding for the Colorado Energy Office expires June 30.

"Yes, we added hydro and nuclear power to their scope of work that they're going to do," said Sen. Ray Scott, a Republican representing Grand Junction.

sen ray scott
Sen. Ray Scott (R) Grand Junction (credit: CBS)

Scott is the sponsor of the bill that cuts a third of the Energy Office budget, doubles the registration fees on electric vehicles and eliminates more than a dozen renewable energy programs.

"This well blew up 1400 feet from a school. They told the kids to shelter in place," said Sen. Matt Jones, a Democrat representing Boulder County.

senator matt jones
Sen. Matt Jones (D) Boulder County (credit: CBS)

Jones was upset as he suggested that the bill panders to the oil and gas industry. He floated amendment after amendment after amendment to tighten regulations.

"What this amendment does, is it establishes a safe zone," said Jones.

"This is not just a little 'Let's create a safe zone,' this is pretty much, 'Let's shut down development,'" said one Republican lawmaker who joined others in shooting down the amendments.

Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin were killed in a home explosion in Firestone in 2017. (credit: CBS)

They insisted the state has protections in place to prevent accidents like the deadly explosion in Firestone last month that killed two people.

Scott's bill would require energy companies to report to the Legislature on their inspections of natural gas lines.

(credit: CBS)

"What's scary, quite frankly, is we don't know where these lines are," said Jones, who pushed for a map indicating all the gas wells in the state.

The Republican-led Senate passed Scott's bill. It faces amendments among Democrats in the House who are concerned about Scott's proposed cuts to renewable energy programs.

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