• Cathy Proctor
    Cathy Proctor Reporter Denver Business Journal

    A ballot proposal asking Colorado voters to ban fracking will be pulled from consideration for the 2016 ballot, according to a member of the group that filed the proposal in December.

    But the other 10 proposals filed by Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED) remain on the table, said Karen Dyke, who’s listed in state documents as the contact person for the 11 initiatives.

    fracking-activists 750xx3648-2058-0-203

    Coloradans Against Fracking rally outside the Colorado Convention Center last year.

    “We’re going to pull the one that’s the ban, not the other ones,” Dyke told the Denver Business Journal on Friday. “We’re down to 10, but we still have plenty to work with.”

    Dyke referred additional questions to another CREED member, who couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

    But while a proposal to ban fracking statewide may be off the table, the other initiatives backed by CREED are just as bad, said Karen Crummy, a spokeswoman for Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, an issues committee formed by the industry in 2014 to oppose anti-fracking initiatives.

    “They withdrew it (the fracking ban proposal) because they know the vast majority of Coloradans support responsible oil and natural gas development and are against banning an entire industry,” Crummy said via email.

    “However, their remaining proposals are just as irresponsible and extreme because they would still effectively ban development,” she said.

    All the measures address hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the injection of a solution of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to free oil and gas. Fracking and related techniques have been credited with expanding U.S. fossil-fuel production, but some fear that it can cause health problems.

    Some of the ballot proposals still under consideration call for setback buffer zones between drilling rigs and homes or areas of “special concern” of up to 4,000 feet, a distance oil and gas executives have said would cripple industry operations in Colorado if approved by voters.

    Other proposals in the bundle would ban local governments from approving new development or areas of “special concern” within 4,000 feet of an existing oil and gas well.

    Areas of “special concern,” which would spark the new buffer zones, were defined in the proposals as including drinking water sources, lakes, rivers, streams or streambeds, creeks, irrigation canals, riparian areas, playgrounds, sports fields, public parks, open space or amphitheaters.

    Colorado already has rules mandating drilling rigs have at least a 500-foot setback from homes, with the minimum distance rising to 1,000 feet for “high occupancy buildings,” such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals.

    The state also requires energy companies put additional mitigation measures in place, to control impacts such as dust, noise and lights, if a home or occupied structure lies within 1,000 feet of the drilling rig.

    Proposal No. 75, also part of the CREED bundle, would grant local governments the right to prohibit oil and gas operations within their borders, authority that currently rests with the state regulatory agencies.

    That point has been a bone of contention between some local officials, who want the authority to ban oil and gas operations in their town, and state officials and industry representatives, who say the state has the expertise and experience to ensure the development is done correctly.

    Also among the proposals being pursued is No. 63, asking voters to approve a right to a “healthy environment,” defined as “safe and sustainable conditions for human life, including health air, water, land and ecological systems.”

    The proposal would allow anyone to file suit seeking damages for failure to “abide by or enforce the provisions of this fundamental right to a healthy environment.”

    At the other end of the spectrum is proposal No. 87, which asks that ballot initiatives include a note telling voters the economic consequences of approving the proposal. The note would be prepared by the research staff of the Colorado General Assembly and be included on the ballot, under the proposal.

    No. 87 was proposed by Peter Moore, a Denver attorney and chairman of Vital for Colorado, a business-backed, pro-fracking group, and Robert Golden, president and CEO of the South Metro Denver Chamber.

    Much like the slate of initiatives aimed at the oil and gas industry, a similar plan was proposed in 2014, but pulled from consideration before the fall election as part of a deal brokered by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

    The 2014 deal involved pulling four, dueling ballot initiatives — two considered pro-industry and two considered anti-industry — from the 2014 ballot.

    Then, after the 2015 legislative session, Hickenlooper signed a bill attaching a fiscal note to initiatives proposed by citizens.

    The bipartisan measure — sponsored by state Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, and House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, requires the nonpartisan Legislative Council to determine the cost of any proposed ballot measure to Colorado and further mandates that petition signature-gatherers must have the fiscal note available for potential signers to see.

    It takes effect in time for the 2018 election.

    The difference between proposal No. 87 and the law signed by Hickenlooper last year lies in how the financial information is provided.

    The law makes it available for people to review before signing the petition to put a proposal on the ballot. Proposal No. 87 would put the financial information on the ballot itself, where voters could see it before marking their ballot.

    Cathy Proctor covers energy, the environment and transportation for the Denver Business Journal and edits the weekly “Energy Inc.” newsletter. Phone: 303-803-9233. Subscribe to the Energy Inc. newsletter



    Posted by Dana West @ 6:30 pm for Adams County Politics, Ballot Issue, Climate Change, Colorado politics, Denver area politics, Energy, Jobs |

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