Colorado: Oil and Gas Fight Generating Big Money

Groups opposing or supporting oil and gas development have put a lot of effort into several different ballot initiatives this year. While we won’t know until after August 8 which questions have gathered enough signatures to make it on the ballot, significant amounts of money have already been spent on both sides.

August 1 was a reporting deadline for expenditures, providing an opportunity to see which groups are raising the most money (and increasing the likelihood of getting their message to the voters). Ballot proposal 75 would give local governments more authority over gas and oil regulations, perhaps even banning the activities altogether. Proposal 78 would increase the minimum setback from oil rigs at 2,500 feet, in effect banning drilling in most of the state.

Two groups are supporting No. 75 and 78, “Yes for Local Control Over Oil and Gas” and “Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking.” Together these groups have raised $228,470 so far, including a $25,000 donation from Congressman Jared Polis. Opposition groups, including an industry-backed group and a business-based group, have raised over $24 million.

CAR has not taken a position on either measure but they are property rights issues, as Governor Hickenlooper has often stated. Prohibiting or limiting a land owner or a mineral owner from utilizing their property is a violation of their rights. However, local chambers of commerce and the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance have opposed both 75 and 78.

Note: Colorado ballot Initiative No. 40, would have allowed local governments to ban “corporations” deemed negative to the public’s welfare such as companies engaged in fracking. Its supporters, the Colorado Community Network, have ended their efforts to put the measure on the ballot this year. However, they announced their intention to pursue the issue again in 2018.

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