Colorado Senate Republicans pushed through a bill Tuesday that would make it a felony to tamper with or destroy oil and gas pipelines during protests or other activities — a bill that, while narrow in scope, could be the biggest oil and gas measure that the Legislature debates this session.

State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, the Sterling Republican who sponsored Senate Bill 35, hailed it as a public-safety measure meant to protect both oil and gas workers and surrounding communities at a time when protesters have begun trying to shut off valves of energy companies — a process that, if done wrong, could lead to pipeline explosions and community contamination.

Democratic Sen. Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge was the one member of her party who joined with all Senate Republicans in passing the measure onto the Democratic-majority House, where it is likely to die.

Democrats said they see the measure not as an aid to safety but instead as a deterrent to protests against oil and gas wells, which are becoming more common as wells locate closer to homes and schools in areas like Broomfield.

Read more at the Denver Business Journal