Last week, the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business released findings from a study that investigated the economic consequences of the state’s ballot proposal no. 78. As Cathy Proctor, reporter with the Denver Business Journal, summarized in her recent article, “Ballot proposal No. 78, which calls for expanding Colorado’s existing 500-foot buffer zones around oil and gas operations to 2,500 feet, would be the death knell for an industry already reeling from a two-year bust in commodity prices if approved by voters in November.”
So what exactly would Colorado’s ballot proposal mean for the oil and gas industry?
If the proposal made it on to the November ballot and was then approved by voters:
- An estimated 104,000 jobs would be lost over a 15-year period.
- The state’s gross domestic product would decrease by billions in the coming years.
- Colorado would lose out on $1.2 billion in tax revenue.
Additionally, a report from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee found, “that in the state’s top five oil and gas counties, 95 percent of the land area would be off-limits to new wells and other energy facilities. Those counties are Garfield, La Plata, Las Animas, Rio Blanco and Weld.”
“This setback measure would devastate Colorado’s economy, put thousands of people out of work and allow the government to take private property from Coloradans without compensation,” Karen Crummy, a spokeswoman for Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy, and Energy Independence, told The Denver Post in May.
Quite simply, ballot initiative 78 would decimate the oil and gas industry in Colorado. Not only would businesses suffer, but people would lose their jobs and consumers would pay for the decision at the pump and beyond. Furthermore, without that $1.2 billion in tax revenue, the state wouldn’t have the funds necessary to build more schools and better its communities. Drastic, knee-jerk reactions to environmental and health concerns could ultimately hurt Coloradans instead of helping them.