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Colorado's Anti-Oil/Gas Sentiment Limited to Greater Denver Area, Analysis Shows

The majority of Colorado's anti-oil and natural gas activism is driven from outside of the state and is concentrated in the Denver metropolitan area, along with two nearby counties, Boulder and Larimer, according to an analysis completed by pro-energy industry group Protecting Colorado's Economy, Environment and Energy Independence (Protect Colorado).

Protect Colorado analyzed the signatures submitted earlier this summer for the state’s anti-oil/gas ballot measures, none of which qualified for November's ballot. The assessment concentrated on the failed Initiative 78, which sought to impose a 2,500-foot setback on all new oil/gas wells in the state.

Protect Colorado completed a 10-day review of the signatures for Initiative 78 that were filed with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office and found 74,763 (70%) of the signatures came from Boulder, Larimer and the Denver metro area. There are 64 counties and 35 state senate districts in the state.

"[Our] analysis shows that the vast majority of Coloradans -- including those in areas where responsible oil/gas development is produced -- were shut out of the signature-gathering process, underscoring the need for a more fair and balanced procedure to amend Colorado's constitution," said Karen Crummy, communications director for Protect Colorado.

Protect Colorado on Tuesday formally came out in support of Amendment 71, a measure qualified for the November ballot and backed by Gov. John Hickenlooper (see Daily GPIJune 1) that would require 2% of registered voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts and the backing of 55% of the voters at the ballot box to amend the constitution.

"Amending the state constitution should not be left solely in the hands of a few counties," Crummy said. "The entire state should have a say on what does or does not make the ballot." Amendment 71 would give all of the state's voters a choice, its advocates contend.

Crummy pointed out that while Initiative 78 failed to gather enough signatures to make this year's ballot, the tactics used by what she considers "extreme, out-of-state groups" show how just a handful of counties can influence the ballot process. She said Boulder County accounted for nearly 25% of the signatures gathered in support of a measure that would have cost the state 140,000 jobs and $217 billion in economic activity.

Houston-based Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. earlier had projected that the proposal to extend setback requirements for oil/natural gas activity could make energy investors uncertain about future prospects in the state (see Daily GPIJune 14).

Last month, in a major victory for the oil/natural gas industry and general business sector in Colorado, Initiative 78 and another measure (No. 75), viewed as onerous for natural resources development, were rejected for the November ballot (see Daily GPIAug. 29).

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