What’s Ahead: Interim Committees Trying to Predict 2023

Legislative Interim Committees are underway discussing bill requests for 2023. The challenge is not knowing which legislators will be returning. That issue is faced every two years (for House members) and every four years (for Senators). This year is more unpredictable than most, thanks to the dual impacts of redistricting and a shifting political climate. There is a schedule to be maintained and both legislators and staff are moving forward.

The Water and Agriculture Resources Review Committee met August 4 to hear presentations on PFAS (the “forever chemicals”), Impacts of Transmountain Diversions, and Produced Water from Oil/Gas Operations among others. This meeting was the only chance for members to request bills to be drafted for consideration as committee-sponsored bills. Among the more interesting requests were bills: to incentivize the treatment and beneficial use of produced water; create a standing year-round committee on water issues; and limit CDPHE ability to distribute unverified information or data not approved by EPA’s Scientific Advisory Committees. A total of 13 potential bill drafts were requested, with the committee scheduled to vote on those drafts in September.

The Transportation Legislation Review Committee meets on August 9 with an agenda that again will include a presentation on Climate Reduction Goals and Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled. Previous efforts to require large employers to shoulder responsibility for employee single-vehicle commuting failed both as legislation and regulatory measures.

The Oversight Committee on Tax Policy will take bill draft requests at its August 12 meeting. It now appears that earlier interest in increasing the severance tax on metallic minerals and molybdenum will likely not be push forward. Still uncertain are any potential changes to Enterprise Zones.

Trisha Oeth has been promoted to CDPHE Director of Environmental Health and Protection. She had previously served as Interim Director after serving as Interim Director for both the Air and Water Divisions.

AQCC hearings scheduled. The Air Quality Control Commission will hold a rulemaking hearing to consider revisions to Regulation Number 22 to address recovered methane protocols for use in clean heat plans to help demonstrate greenhouse gas reductions by gas utilities. The Commission will also consider development of a crediting and tracking system for recovered methane. The PUC is also reviewing the Clean Heat regulations. According to a July 29 Denver Post article, Xcel Energy was quoted for concerns that a section of the rules could be a “de facto ban” on natural gas for building heating and cooling. Under legislation passed in 2021, natural gas utilities are required to reduce emissions from their delivery systems.

The Water Quality Control Commission recently published notice of rulemaking hearings on November 14 to consider adoption of revisions to the Nutrients Management Control Regulation, Regulation #85 (5 CCR 1002-85) and revisions pertaining to lakes nutrient criteria in The Basic Standards and Methodologies for Surface Water, Regulation #31 (5 CCR 1002-31) along with revisions to the Classifications and Numeric Standards for:* Arkansas River Basin, Regulation #32 (5 CCR 1002-32);

* Upper Colorado River Basin and North Platte River (Planning Region 12), Regulation #33 (5 CCR 1002-33); *San Juan River and Dolores River Basins, Regulation #34 (5 CCR 1002-34); *Gunnison and Lower Dolores River Basins, Regulation #35 (5 CCR 1002-35); *Rio Grande Basin, Regulation #36 (5 CCR 1002-36); * Lower Colorado River Basin, Regulation #37 (5 CCR 1002-37); and * South Platte River Basin, Laramie River Basin, Republican River Basin, Smoky Hill River Basin, Regulation #38 (5 CCR 1002-38). The cumulative notices occupied 768 pages of the July 25 Colorado Register (in case anyone is searching for bedtime reading).