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Oil, Gas Ballot Measures Reduced to Three in Colorado

While a citizens' group fighting increased oil/natural gas development dropped several potential statewide ballot measures in Colorado this month, three initiatives aimed at more local control over oil/gas activity (Nos. 63, 75 and 78) are still alive to the discomfort of business development and industry supporters.

None of the measures are approved for the November ballot as yet, and they still need approval from the state Supreme Court and 99,000 valid registered voters' signatures.

Colorado Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED) initially proposed 20 ballot measures, but now all but the trio are off the table.

Nevertheless, Karen Crummy, the spokesperson for Protect Colorado's Environmental, Economic and Energy Independence (PCEEEI), has told local news media that the proposals could essentially kill future oil/gas development in the state at a time when the state is taking steps to address local control concerns.

Last month, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) approved two new rules changes (see Shale DailyJan. 26) that stem from a series of recommendation from a governor's statewide task force formed in mid-2014 to head off several anti-industry ballot proposals at that time (see Shale DailyFeb. 25, 2015).

Crummy said it makes more sense to give the new rules, and others to come from the task force's nine recommendations, a chance to work before new ballot measures are submitted to voters. "The majority of Coloradans support responsible oil/gas development in the state," she said.

The proposals still alive would:

  • Allow individual residents to file lawsuits against oil/gas operators for failing to maintain a "healthy environment" (No. 63);
  • Give local governments authority over state government regarding oil/gas development within their borders (No. 75); and
  • Set a mandatory minimum of 2,500 feet for setbacks for new oil/gas development in relation to habitable structures (No. 78).

Crummy has suggested that CREED pull these proposed measures, too, noting that the COGCC already has increased setbacks (see Shale DailyJan. 28, 2013) as part of 10 new rulemakings it has undertaken since 2010. CREED should let the full effects of the new COGCC rules have their full impact before pushing new measure, she said.

Crummy and various economists in the state have told local news media that the measures could have various negative impacts on the state's economy, and the oil/gas sector specifically, which has cut back work force and production since the oil price collapse began in late 2014. From September 2014 through September 2015, 2,100 oil/gas jobs were lost in Weld County in the center of the state's energy production, according to the state labor department.

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