Colorado Rising Pulls Anti-Fracking Measure Ahead Of 2020 Ballot Push
One week after declining to drop a ballot measure that would expand a statewide oil and gas setback requirement, a Colorado anti-fracking group suddenly halted its 2020 efforts. Blaming COVID-19 health concerns, Colorado Rising abruptly ended what environmentalists hoped would be a successful second attempt at driving a new statewide standard for oil and gas development Wednesday.
The group withdrew an offer last week to pull planned anti-oil and gas initiatives after negotiations with industry proponents of a measure to install an independent oil and gas commission fell through, as Western Wire reported.
“We have concerns about volunteers,” Joe Salazar, Colorado Rising’s executive director, told Reuters, pointing to ongoing health concerns related to COVID-19. The former state representative also cited a closing window for the group to make use of new electronic signature gathering protocols.
The group’s setback measure in 2018 failed 55 to 45 percent. Their 2020 efforts were the result of disappointment with the state’s legislative and regulatory efforts since then, including the implementation of the controversial SB-181 oil and gas bill passed last year. Colorado Rising submitted six ballot measure proposals in January, hoping to clarify and expand regulations in line with their objectives.
Colorado oil and gas trade organizations expressed relief at Colorado Rising’s decision to withdraw, noting the current economic state of the state and wishing to avoid a costly repeat of 2018’s ballot battle.
“This is a win for Colorado and for working families from Greeley to Grand Junction and everywhere in between,” said Colorado Oil and Gas Association president, Dan Haley. “The end of this constant cycle of divisive battles at the ballot box will bring much needed stability and predictability to our state business climate as we begin to climb out of this economic hole.”
Haley added that economic regrowth in the state would benefit from an additional “degree of certainty for Colorado businesses.”
“We can now focus our time and efforts on moving Colorado forward and producing energy cleaner, safer and better than anywhere on the globe,” he continued.
“Colorado Rising’s announcement this evening is welcome news, as their proposed ballot initiatives threatened to exact devastating economic impacts on our state at a time in which Colorado already faces unprecedented challenges,” said Lynn Granger, executive director of API Colorado. “As we continue to constructively engage during the many rulemakings still to come this year, we remain hopeful that the ‘oil and gas wars’ in this state can truly come to an end.”
Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce CEO Diane Schwenke, a proponent of the independent oil and gas commission proposal, said Colorado Rising’s efforts were “reckless” and perpetuated a political struggle over regulation, instead of seeking policy resolutions.
“Even with a fully functioning economy, they would have caused job losses in the tens of thousands and hundreds of millions of dollars of lost tax revenues for state and local governments,” Schwenke said.
“We need reforms that take extreme politics out of the regulation of the energy sector, one of Colorado’s most important engines of economic growth. A whole sector of the economy shouldn’t be operating under constant threat from fringe environmental groups and politicians who pander to fringe environmental groups,” she added.