(The Center Square) - Republican lawmakers are calling on Governor Jared Polis and Democrats to reduce Colorado's regulatory burden on energy producers.
GOP members in both General Assembly chambers announced a Senate Joint Resolution calling for regulators to expand and increase their permit approvals for oil and gas development in the state.
The resolution comes as state and national economies continue to deal with the twin pressures of high inflation and soaring gas prices. The national 12-month consumer price index increased 7.9 percent over the last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Meanwhile, Colorado's average price of a gallon of gas is at $3.96 as of Wednesday, data from the American Automobile Association shows.
"In the last few weeks while our national inflation rate continues to rise, we've been seeing nearly record-breaking prices at the pump," House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, said in a statement. "The families of Colorado cannot afford this. We cannot afford these restrictive energy policies."
"We have a real opportunity here to jump start our economy and bring back high paying jobs to our state," said Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley. "We are calling Governor Polis and our Democrat colleagues to rejuvenate our energy production and unleash the potential of Colorado energy producers."
The governor supports suspending the federal gas tax as well as suspending the state's gas fee, a spokesperson said.
"Gov. Polis has called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax to save drivers over 18 cents per gallon and he also supports any efforts to reduce state fees and taxes on gas as long as road funding is backfilled from other sources," the spokesperson said. "In addition, Governor Polis already proposed suspending a portion of the state gas fee last year to give Coloradans relief at the pump and he continues to support this way of showing relief at the pump with more urgency."
The governor's spokesperson also pointed out that oil and gas producers in the state have over 2,600 unused permits.
Democratic spokespersons in the House and Senate did not respond to requests for comment on the resolution.
Oil and gas groups like the American Petroleum Institute say that lawmakers need to focus on making the domestic regulatory environment more friendly for oil and gas production to avoid being reliant on foreign oil.
"It is important that Coloradans understand why they are paying more at the pump," API Colorado Executive Director Lynn Granger said last week. "It's equally important to understand that years of short-sighted policymaking at both the state and federal levels have contributed to where we are today.
Colorado produces the fifth-most crude oil in the U.S., according to the industry group.
"Our state can and must play a central role in this shared endeavor, but the bottom line is that Colorado's operators need more permits to be approved for it to happen," Granger added. "We stand ready to work with policymakers and regulators to do just that."
A poll released this week by the group found that 90 percent of Colorado voters surveyed said they support developing domestic energy production.