Ritter Signs Key Bills in Western Colorado

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Grand Junction, Colo. (AP) Governor Ritter traveled to Western Colorado Tuesday to sign a dozen measures into law.

One bill overhauls energy regulation to give public health, wildlife and the environment a higher priority.

The measure will expand the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to nine members with the addition of the state's top health and environmental officials.

The measure also decreases the number of members who must have a background in the industry to three, from five.

Ritter and others have said the commission had become too cozy with the industry it regulates. Industry officials disputed that and said they were concerned about losing expertise on the panel.

In Glenwood Springs Ritter signed a measure doubling the portion of state minerals tax revenues going to communities directly affected by development. Their new share will be 30 percent.

In Frisco, he signed a measure authorizing one million dollars in experimental programs to fight pine beetles and restore forests.

He also signed a measure that requires energy companies to use the best available technology to reduce the impact of exploration and drilling on wildlife and their habitat, and directs the oil and gas commission to work with state wildlife officials on regulations.

Some of the other bills Ritter signed would:
Require health insurers to pay for cervical cancer immunizations.
Increase fines for truckers who don't put tire chains on their big rigs in bad weather.
Require the oil and gas conservation commission to ensure the accuracy of oil and gas production reporting.
Provide $7 million for community-based renewable energy projects around the state.

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