A Message From the President: June 2023

    Never Stop Working

    Colorado legislators and regulators never stop working even after the adjournment of the 2023 legislative session. Please see Dianna Orf’s legislative report for a complete wrap-up of the legislative session.

    Times have certainly changed. In past years, lobbyists and others had great opportunities to visit the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and Craig for two long running events that brought together legislators, lobbyists, association executives and others to relax, have fun and have the opportunity to network: The Northwest Colorado Coal Conference and a legislator golf tournament that brought together legislators, lobbyists, association executives and others to relax, have fun and have the opportunity to network.

    Now, we can count on legislative activity to continue in a different forum and regulatory activity to stay active throughout the year. Legislators seeking to enact broad policy objectives often settle for small victories year by year, ever enhancing laws such covering employee relations and environmental control. Whatever they can’t perfect in legislation is given to Governor Polis’ administration in the form of rulemaking authority. Some progressive democrats have even mentioned in passing the idea of extending the legislative session 120-day session to a year-round session, a sentiment that should concern Coloradoans already expressing frustration with the political direction Colorado has gone.

    Since the session’s end, we’ve seen two major regulatory developments already adopted in response to either legislative direction (enactment of Colorado’s Environmental Justice statute) and the unanimous U.S Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the Sackett’s stating EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers had too broadly defined Waters of the United States.

    The Water Quality Control Division expressed such alarm prior to the issue draft guidance articulating their view of how they would “exercise enforcement discretion” over waters they anticipated being possibly threatened by the lack of federal coverage. CMA filed comments on the draft policy which can be found here.

    Last month, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission adopted extensive new modeling and monitoring requirements for sources of air pollution in defined areas of the state designated as “Disproportionately Impacted Communities” defined by the legislature and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

    Senator Cleave Simpson, a San Luis Valley farmer and rancher, expressed his concern that discussions regarding water including efforts to encourage the use of produced water, minimize use of fresh water for oil and gas operations and study the drought situation on the Colorado River may have a hidden agenda to minimize water rights enjoyed by Coloradans.

    While only a few of the interim committees or workgroups have a direct impact on mining, we are vigilant to study agendas and meeting briefing materials to make sure topics don’t morph into issues our members care about.

    Legislative Interim Committees and Year-Round Committees, and other task forces and committees Dianna Orf will be monitoring during the summer and fall:

    • Water Resources & Agriculture Review Committee
    • Joint Budget Committee
    • Colorado River Drought Task Force
    • Legislative Interim Committee on Ozone Air Quality
    • Air Quality Committee Enterprise
    • Air Quality Control Division-Water Quality Fees Stakeholder Process
    • Colorado Produced Water Consortium
    • Legislative Oversight Committee Concerning Tax Policy & Task Force
    • High Performance Transportation Enterprise
    • Ozone Season Transit Grant Program

    The summer and fall still provide CMA an opportunity to visit the portions of the state mining occurs in, and we were happy to participate in the JOLT conference in Craig last weekend which covered opportunities for northwest Colorado to take advantage of all energy sources despite Colorado’s war on coal. We look forward as well to providing webinars covering the 2023 legislative session as well as regulatory updates, we’ll have plenty to cover.

    Stan Dempsey Jr
    Colorado Mining Association