Trump Opens the Door for Local Fracking Legislation

Well, here’s something you don’t see every day. It seems that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is on shaky ground with energy industry insiders after some comments he made regarding hydraulic fracturing.

In an interview with Denver-based channel KUSA, Trump was quoted saying, “I’m in favor of fracking, but I think that voters should have a big say in it … I mean, there’s some areas, maybe, they don’t want to have fracking. And I think if the voters are voting for it, that’s up to them.”

Okay, on paper, that’s sound, right? Without going into a nit-picking excoriation of Trump’s character, it would seem that in this instance, the presidential candidate believes that the American people should be able to decide the oil and gas industry’s policy, and even dictate whether or not they should allow fracking on a local level. Again, that’s good in theory, but it could have disastrous implications for the future.

Let’s take Colorado’s upcoming ballot initiative 63, colloquially known as the “Right to Healthy Environment” Initiative. As we discussed some time ago (full details here), this ballot would — if passed — allow local communities to determine whether or not oil and gas projects should be allowed near their towns. Ballot 63 would actually allow small towns to override state and government mandates in the pursuit of curtailing oil and gas projects nearby.

Unfortunately, legislation like this would open the door for small groups to make big decisions about the future of their region based on incomplete or anecdotal information. In other words, Trump has essentially stated that he’d support bills like ballot 63.

Meanwhile, in the Democratic camp, nominee Hillary Clinton has stated repeatedly that her campaign will choose to de-emphasize fracking in favor of focusing on different issues in her platform.

For the moment, the energy industry is still standing behind Donald Trump. One oil executive was quite clear when he said that Trump’s statements are the product of the candidate’s lack of industry knowledge, saying, “I’m sure he doesn’t appreciate the big leap he just took.” However, the oil and gas industry is determined to support their man, as they hold on to the hope that should Trump win the election, he’ll be much more interested in focusing on the details of what communal interaction with the oil and gas industry might mean.

On the flip side of the coin, one could actually make a case for Trump’s comments being a sly attempt to rope in some Democratic voters. Of course, that notion seems a little savvy for someone who’s as famously straightforward as Trump.

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