2016 Colorado Revised Statutes
Title 34 - Mineral Resources
Oil and Natural Gas
Article 60 - Oil and Gas Conservation
§ 34-60-124. Oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund
(1) The following moneys shall be credited to the oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund:
(a) The revenues from the surcharge imposed by the commission pursuant to section 34-60-122 (1) (a);
(b) Moneys reimbursed to or recovered by the commission in payment for fund expenditures;
(c) Any moneys appropriated to such fund by the general assembly;
(d) Any moneys granted to the commission from any federal agency for the purposes outlined under subsection (4) of this section;
(e) Prepayments by operators, in situations where a responsible party cannot be identified, as a credit against the surcharge imposed by section 34-60-122 (1) (a), whether in cash or through the provision of services or equipment, in order that the commission may conduct the activities provided for in subsection (4) of this section;
(f) Moneys recovered from the sale of salvaged equipment, as provided for in paragraph (c) of subsection (6) of this section.
(2) The moneys in the oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund shall not revert to the general fund at the end of any fiscal year.
(3) The moneys in the oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund shall be subject to annual appropriation by the general assembly; except that moneys deposited in the fund constituting forfeited security or other financial assurance provided by operators in accordance with section 34-60-106 (3.5) and (13) shall be continuously appropriated to the commission for the purpose of fulfilling obligations under this article upon which an operator has defaulted.
(4) The oil and gas conservation and environmental response fund may be expended:
(a) By the commission, or by the director at the commission's direction, prior to, during, or after the conduct of oil and gas operations to:
(I) Investigate, prevent, monitor, or mitigate conditions that threaten to cause, or that actually cause, a significant adverse environmental impact on any air, water, soil, or biological resource;
(II) Gather background or baseline data on any air, water, soil, or biological resource that the commission determines may be so impacted by the conduct of oil and gas operations; and
(III) Investigate alleged violations of any provision of this article, any rule or order of the commission, or any permit where the alleged violation threatens to cause or actually causes a significant adverse environmental impact;
(b) For purposes authorized by section 23-41-114 (4), C.R.S.;
(5) The director of the oil and gas conservation commission shall prepare an annual report for the executive director of the department of natural resources and the governor regarding the operations of and disbursements from the fund.
(6) For the purposes provided for in subsection (4) of this section, the commission is authorized to:
(a) Enter onto any lands or waters, public or private; and, except in emergency situations, the commission shall provide reasonable notice prior to such entry in order to allow a surface owner, local government designee, operator, or responsible party to be present and to obtain duplicate samples and copies of analytical reports;
(b) Require responsible parties to conduct investigation or monitoring activities and to provide the commission with the results;
(c) Confiscate and sell for salvage any equipment abandoned by a responsible party at a location where the conduct of oil and gas operations has resulted in a significant adverse environmental impact; except that this authority shall be subject to and secondary to any valid liens, security interests, or other legal interests in such equipment asserted by any taxing authority or by any creditor of the responsible party.
(7) If the commission determines that mitigation of a significant adverse environmental impact on any air, water, soil, or biological resource is necessary as a result of the conduct of oil and gas operations, the commission shall issue an order requiring the responsible party to perform such mitigation. If the responsible party cannot be identified or refuses to comply with such order, the commission shall authorize the necessary expenditures from the fund. The commission shall bring suit in the second judicial district to recover such expenditures from any responsible party who refuses to perform such mitigation or any responsible party who is subsequently identified, such action to be brought within a two-year period from the date that final expenditures were authorized. Moneys recovered as a result of such suit shall first be applied to the commission's legal costs and attorney fees and shall then be credited to the fund.
(8) (a) For purposes of this section, "responsible party" means any person who conducts an oil and gas operation in a manner which is in contravention of any then-applicable provision of this article, or of any rule, regulation, or order of the commission, or of any permit that threatens to cause, or actually causes, a significant adverse environmental impact to any air, water, soil, or biological resource. "Responsible party" includes any person who disposes of any other waste by mixing it with exploration and production waste that threatens to cause, or actually causes, a significant adverse environmental impact to any air, water, soil, or biological resource.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (a) of this subsection (8), "responsible party" does not include any landowner, whether of the surface estate, mineral estate, or both, who does not engage in, or assume responsibility for, the conduct of oil and gas operations.
(9) For purposes of this section, any person who is found to be a responsible party shall be deemed to have consented to the jurisdiction of the commission and the courts of the state of Colorado. Each responsible party shall be liable only for a proportionate share of any costs imposed under this section and shall not be held jointly and severally liable for such costs.
(10) The fund shall be expended by the commission or by the director for the purposes of administering the provisions of this article, including staffing, overhead, enforcement, and the payment of environmental responses costs, and for paying expenses in connection with the interstate oil and gas compact commission.
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