In years past, statewide elections in Colorado brought a slew of hardly constitutional ballot initiatives. Although the state’s oil and gas industry continues to bolster the economy, 2018 is proving to be no different. Anti-energy activists have another onslaught of anti-fracking measures in the pipeline.
Front and center, however, is Initiative 97 from community organizer Suzanne Spiegel. Ninety-seven aims to expand Colorado’s fracking setback rules. Currently, the state prohibits new wells from being dug less than 500 feet from a resident’s home. Spiegel’s ballot measure would push that number from 500 feet to 2,500 feet, or nearly half a mile.
Rather than sit back and take it on the chin, however, the oil and gas industry has begun to fight back.
It’s Everyone’s State and Everyone’s Future
While the industry has, in years past, mainly waited for logic to prevail at the voting booths, the severity of Initiative 97 sparked a quick reaction from the industry. As Protect Colorado spokeswoman Karen Crummy explained to reporters, “This initiative is economically devastating to the state of Colorado. Not only would it cost thousands of jobs, but it would cost billions in actual economic impact.”
Make no mistake, folks, as the Colorado oil and gas industry goes, so goes the state’s economy.
Legislation on Behalf of Oil and Gas
In addition to actively combatting Initiative 97, the oil and gas industry has enacted a series of other ballot measures — Initiatives 108 through 113 — designed to ensure that property owners would be compensated if the state passed new regulations that diminished the value of their land and the resources underneath.
Measures 108 through 113 have another intent, as well. If passed, they will help cement the relationship between Colorado and the industry and allow the two entities to move forward hand in hand toward a brighter economic future.
Not Just the Work of ‘Evil’ Corporations
When word gets around that the oil and gas industry is out there campaigning on behalf of fracking, there’s a tendency for the resulting articles to paint those efforts as nefarious. No doubt the legal efforts undertaken by the oil and gas industry will be cast in a negative light right up until the votes get cast.
It’s important to remember that these initiatives get implemented by the citizens of Colorado who rely on the oil and gas industry for their livelihood. Recently, a group of citizens showed up to protest a new fracking project in Greeley. Before the residents crowded around the project, the industry held a hearing to allow these people to voice their concerns.
The most poignant comment, however, came from an unnamed fracking employee — whose comment was buried in the middle of the fifth paragraph, it should be noted. “I’ve been employed by the oil and gas industry for eight and a half years,” she said. “I am proud of the safety measures that we put in place to protect our environment, our communities and our employees.”
Satisfaction and pride in a job well done don’t play as well as niche public outrage, it seems.