What We’re Watching: SB 165

Earlier this month, the Colorado Chamber announced its list of Job Killers of the 2024 legislative session. Among those bills is Senate Bill 165, which passed its first committee hearing this week despite significant opposition from the business community.

In the week ahead of the hearing, the Chamber pushed out an action alert among its members and the broader business community, which resulted in nearly 500 emails going to members of the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee. The bill was also part of a petition circulated several weeks ago by the Chamber against job killing legislation, which so far has garnered more than 600 signatures across the state.

SB 165 is yet another vessel that certain lawmakers are using to attempt to ban oil and gas activity across the state this session. It does so through a “seasonal pause” which would restrict operations during summer months. Originally, the bill would have imposed a five month ban on oil and gas operations from May 1 to September 30. The proposal was amended in committee on Wednesday to reduce the period from June to August.

This is still extremely problematic for both the energy industry and those that indirectly work with the industry. SB 165 would lead to a significant loss of energy jobs across the state, with some companies choosing to leave altogether.

Another major component of the bill would have revived a previously-failed effort to mandate how Coloradans commute to work, requiring reduced use of personal vehicles. The Colorado Chamber led opposition to a similar regulatory proposal two years ago, which faced major opposition from both the business community and workers who value autonomy in how they get to work. The proposal ultimately failed after unprecedented backlash in state rulemaking proceedings.

This provision was eliminated from SB 165 through an amendment that passed in committee. It was replaced by a requirement that a state agency overseeing public health and environment reduce certain pollutants in their emissions budget. The Chamber is still reviewing this amendment to identify its impact.

Other amendments to the bill removed sections on emissions standards for off-road diesel fleets.

While the amended version of SB 165 removes some major issues for the state’s economy and business community, it still fails to strike a balanced approach to environmental policy and would threaten jobs across the state.

The Colorado Chamber remains opposed and will continue to work to defeat the bill as it moves through the legislative process. SB 165 will be heard next in the Senate Finance Committee. It awaits a hearing date.