Colorado: Fracking Opponents Pull Ballot Proposals

Supporters of eleven initiatives aimed at Colorado’s oil and gas industry have withdrawn most of them, leaving three still standing. Seven of the proposals, including an initiative focused on mandatory setbacks up to 4,000 feet, were withdrawn this week.

This should not be construed as a victory for gas and oil. Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED) still has three measures under consideration for the November election; their strategy is to create a bunch of measures and see which could be most viable.

No. 63 would ask 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.”

No. 75, if approved by voters, would make local governments the primary authority over oil and gas operations within their borders, authority that currently lies with the state. The proposal would allow local governments to adopt laws or regulations over oil and gas operations, including the authority to ban those operations from their jurisdictions.

No. 78 calls for a mandatory setback of at least 2,500 feet for new oil and gas facilities, including wells that are fracked, from occupied buildings or “areas of special concern.” Areas of special concern are defined 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.

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