(The Center Square) - Democrats on one of the Colorado General Assembly's key committees voted down a resolution Tuesday that urged Governor Jared Polis and the federal government to do more to increase domestic oil and gas production.
Senate Joint Resolution 22-008 urged lawmakers to "embrace a strategy of 'All of the Above' energy development," according to its text. It also called on state regulatory agencies to issue more drilling permits to oil and gas operators.
The resolution was sponsored by Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and John Cooke, R-Greeley, and Reps. Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, and Richard Holtorf, R-Akron.
The Senate State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee postponed the resolution in a 3-2 party-line vote, with Sonnenberg and Sen. Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa, supporting the resolution.
"This resolution merely urged the Governor to rejuvenate the state's energy production and wean ourselves off of foreign energy dependence," Sonneberg said in a statement. "Democrats have only aggravated this affordability crisis and the people of Colorado are paying for it. I am immensely disappointed that our Democrat colleagues failed to act on this."
During the hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, expressed concerns about issuing more drilling permits when oil and gas producers don't seem to be taking advantage of the ones that have already been approved and issued.
According to data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees the oil and gas industry in the state, more than 600 drilling permits have been granted since 2018.
Colorado, like the whole country, has seen a sharp increase in gas prices following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The average price of a gallon of gasoline in Colorado stands at $3.99 as of Wednesday, which is below the national average of $4.23, according to the latest data from the American Automotive Association. The state's gas price average was $2.90 one year ago.
There are multiple counties in Colorado where average gas prices are higher than the national average as well. Eagle County, which is home to popular tourist destinations such as Bear Creek and Vail, has an average price of more than $5 per gallon.
Sen. Cooke said the increased costs make it clear that Colorado needs to do more to support its energy producers.
"By revitalizing energy production here at home, we can jump-start our stagnated economy by lowering the cost of energy for everyday Coloradans and by creating hundreds of high paying jobs located right here in our state," Cooke said.