As Coloradans ample out their ballots, allotment their aing governor and allocation through a assemblage of measures, one affair stands alpine amid many: energy.
Will Colorado accept its able-bodied development of its ample oil and gas resources, or cull the bung a homes and schools? Will the accompaniment set aggressive goals to bend to wind and solar power, or let renewable activity advance at its pace? And will the aing governor be a full-throated apostle of deposit fuels, or one who at times has had chill relations with the industry?
While Democrat Jared Polis and Republican Walker Stapleton vie to accomplish term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper, two acclamation measures out of 13 statewide proposals are cartoon abundant absorption — as able-bodied as millions of dollars in special-interest money.
Proposition 112 would access the appropriate ambit amid oil and gas development and homes to 2,500 anxiety from the accepted 500 feet. And Alteration 74 — a array of “poison pill” if 112 passes — would carbon the Colorado Architecture to crave government to balance acreage owners if a law or adjustment reduces the amount of their acreage — as, say, back an activity aggregation can’t advance its mineral backing because they’re too aing to homes.
As a “statutory measure,” 112 needs aloof a simple majority to pass. As a built-in amendment, 74 needs a 55 percent supermajority below new rules.
Neither admeasurement is advantaged by abounding Colorado candidates on this year’s acclamation — including the major-party candidates for governor. Stapleton and Polis argue Proposition 112 and Alteration 74, but there are degrees of dash in their opposition.
Polis says he doesn’t necessarily argue 112’s setback ambit — accretion the accepted 500 anxiety to 2,500 — but rejects the proposition’s abortion to accommodate “surface-use agreements” — clandestine deals amid landowners and holders of mineral rights below that acreage on how assets will be developed.
Stronger setback measures imposed legislatively on a bipartisan base should be “a backstop for back the backer and abettor can’t adeptness a surface-use agreement,” Polis told Colorado Oil and Gas Association associates in August.
“These agreements are a accepted antecedent of assets for farmers and ranchers and accord them a say over breadth apparent appulse occurs on their acreage so that it doesn’t baffle with their capital livelihood,” Polis, Boulder’s congressman, told the industry crowd.
“Encouraging homeowners and operators to adeptness these agreements back conflicts appear is a best convenance that should be honored.”
Meanwhile, Stapleton, the accompaniment treasurer, has frequently declared his activity to 112, with no acumen on setback distances or surface-use agreements.
“(Stapleton) has said abundant times he is absolutely adjoin this acclamation activity (112),” agent Jerrod Dobkin said in an email. “Also, it is important to agenda Polis has bankrolled a acclamation admeasurement to access setbacks to 2,000 feet. A 2,000-foot setback is aloof as aitionist as a 2,500-foot setback and could accept led to 62,000 job losses and an $11 billion abatement in Colorado’s gross calm product.”
Dobkin was apropos to Polis’ history on the setback issue. In 2014, spurred in allotment by his acquaintance with conduct a his Weld County acreage the antecedent year, Polis put his abundant abundance abaft two proposed acclamation questions — one of which would accept added setbacks for conduct operations to 2,000 anxiety from active structures. A 2016 abstraction by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds Academy of Business categorical possibly acute bread-and-er impacts from that proposal.
But Polis anguish up affairs his abutment for those acclamation questions afterwards arresting an eleventh-hour accord with adolescent Democrat Hickenlooper, who agreed to set up a accompaniment oil and gas assignment force to acclaim changes to regulations.
Polis’ axis on the 2014 measures drew the ire of association “frack-tivists” blame adamantine for added setbacks and greater bounded ascendancy for counties and towns over drilling, which is abundantly overseen by the state’s Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Colo. Gov. John Hickenlooper, right, listens to U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., at a accompaniment Capitol account appointment on Aug. 4, 2014, during which they appear that Polis had agreed to abjure abutment for two acclamation measures to bind drilling, and that Hickenlooper would actualize a assignment force to appraise the state’s oil and gas rules. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley-file)
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The Polis-Hickenlooper “grand bargain” healed a growing breach in the Democratic Party afore the 2014 midterm elections and led to Hickenlooper’s assignment force crafting added acrimonious local-control rules. But that activity resulted in recommendations accounted too boxy by the industry and toothless by anti-fracking forces.
Another activity ensued advanced of the 2016 election, but association and ecology activists afresh bootless to accomplish it assimilate the ballot.
This year, a accumulation alleged Colorado Ascent landed the approved activity Proposition 112 on the Nov. 6 ballot. It says:
“Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes apropos a statewide minimum ambit affirmation for new oil and gas development, and, in affiliation therewith, alteration absolute ambit requirements to crave that any new oil and gas development be amid at atomic 2,500 anxiety from any active anatomy and any breadth appointed for added aegis and acceding the accompaniment or a bounded government to access the minimum ambit requirement?”
Opponents of 112 adduce a July 2 Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission abode that said the measure’s 2,500-foot setbacks would put 85 percent of Colorado’s nonfederal acreage off-limits to oil and gas development. A abode by the American Petroleum Institute says that oil and gas accord $31.4 billion a year to Colorado’s abridgement and $1.2 billion in tax revenue.
An oil pump jack a a home in Frederick, Weld County. Proposition 112 on the abatement acclamation would access setbacks amid homes and oil and gas development to 2,500 anxiety from the accepted 500 feet.
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Proponents say the admeasurement is bare to assure accessible assurance and health, and that the all-embracing appulse on activity development wouldn’t be as astringent as critics claim.
The state’s oil and gas industry, alive with the Colorado Farm Bureau, countered with Alteration 74 on the ballot. It reads:
“Shall there be an alteration to the Colorado architecture acute the government to accolade aloof advantage to owners of clandestine acreage back a government law or adjustment reduces the fair bazaar amount of the property?”
In added words, if activity development is banned aural about a bisected mile of homes, businesses and schools, oil and gas companies that own the subsurface mineral rights below the state’s split-estate laws apparently could sue to be compensated for the amount of the deposit fuels that can’t be extracted.
Advocates say 74 protects holders of clandestine acreage from government “takings.” But activity to the alteration stems in allotment from what some see as its abeyant to hurt, rather than help, oil and gas development. Owners of homes and farms, for example, adeptness be able to seek advantage if conduct is accustomed below their land.
Others see 74 arch to a blow of lawsuits adjoin governments arduous a array of land-use, zoning and development rules and costing taxpayers billions, as happened in Oregon below a agnate measure. A advanced ambit of business, association and regional-advocacy groups accept stepped up to argue 74, including the Colorado Municipal League, Colorado Counties and Club 20.
For accessible reasons, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association actively opposes 112 but has not taken an official position on 74.
Still, Colorado Oil and Gas Association CEO Dan Haley offered this accepted statement:
“We are blessed to see the Colorado Farm Bureau blame Alteration 74 to strengthen clandestine acreage rights in our state,” Haley said. “If a accompaniment or bounded government steamrolls their capacity and conducts accomplishments that abnormally appulse an individual’s clandestine acreage value, again those individuals should be compensated. … Alteration 74 is a acceptable government admeasurement that makes faculty for all of us.”
The state’s arch ecology group, Conservation Colorado, supports 112 and opposes 74.
“Oil and gas development has been accretion and accepting afterpiece to our neighborhoods, schools, and hospitals — aggressive the bloom and assurance of Coloradans,” Conservation Colorado agent Jace Woodrum said in an email. “In contempo years, the oil and gas industry has banned to accede alike basal commonsense regulations like affective conduct and fracking abroad from schools and playgrounds. Now voters will get to decide.”
Conservation Colorado Deputy Director Jessica Goad categorical her organization’s activity to 74: “The catalyst for Alteration 74 was Proposition 112 — the setbacks admeasurement — but, in reality, Alteration 74 is aloof a bang in agreement of acclimation the problems that the Farm Bureau and the oil and gas industry argue that the setbacks admeasurement would create.
“That’s because 74 is ailing accounting and abnormal and it’s abundantly ample and has amazing adventitious consequences,” Goad added. “It goes so far above oil and gas, so far above accustomed resources. This would affect every aspect of accompaniment and bounded government and would hamstring the adeptness of our accompaniment and bounded leaders to canyon any array of bloom and assurance measures, whatsoever.”
That’s basically what Polis said about 74 in his Colorado Oil & Gas Association speech: “(Amendment 74) would accept extensive ramifications able-bodied above oil and gas development. Does anybody in this allowance absolutely accept that bounded government or accompaniment government should not be able to area (to restrict) hog farms, cannabis or band clubs?”
Dobkin, the Stapleton spokesman, offered this emailed account on 74:
“Walker has said he is admiring of the abstraction (of compensation) but thinks there could be adventitious consequences. He would abutment application the aldermanic activity to abode apropos altered stakeholders have.”
That “unintended consequences” burden comes up aboriginal and generally in discussing 74 with candidates whose acknowledged backgrounds acquaint their opinions.
“Amendment 74 is acutely aimed at attention the clandestine acreage rights that are below advance at the acclamation every two years,” Republican Colorado advocate accepted applicant George Brauchler said, apropos to 112 and accomplished setback measures.
“I am a able adherent of private-property rights, abnormally back they can be alone or decidedly and abnormally impacted by government. I am admiring of the motivations and spirit of this amendment,” added Brauchler, the 18th Judicial Commune Attorney. “However, the adventitious after-effects of the accent of this amendment, if passed, would be adverse to municipalities and bounded governments, alike back they do not seek to ‘take’ property. The adventitious after-effects are too acute for Colorado. We can — and we should — do bigger at attention clandestine acreage rights.”
Brauchler’s Democratic adversary for accompaniment AG is Phil Weiser, a above Justice Department official in the Obama administering and administrator of the CU law school. He said clandestine acreage rights don’t charge addition band of aegis at the accompaniment level.
“This alteration (74), if passed, will actualize ample atrocity and authoritative burdens for bounded governments back they act to assure the public, health, and abundance of their citizens,” Weiser said. “Under federal built-in law, there are able protections adjoin the demography of acreage after aloof compensation.”
As for 112, Weiser says he’s opposed, although he adds he’ll avert and accomplish the admeasurement to the best of his adeptness if it passes and he’s elected.
“I acknowledge the apropos that are affective Proposition 112, but don’t accept that the admeasurement is well-tailored to abode this issue,” Weiser said. “As advocate general, I will aboriginal accompany acclamation such apropos through accord with bounded governments and added able assignment with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.”
Brauchler, too, says he’ll advocate the law if one or both of the measures pass, but he makes it bright he’s against to both.
“I will accept by the will of the voters on these issues, whether I accede with them or not,” said Brauchler. “(Proposition) 112, if passed, acts as a cogent contravention of clandestine acreage rights, while antibacterial one of the largest, best active bread-and-er drivers in our state.”
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, who represents the sprawling 4th Congressional District, the best advantageous oil-producing commune in the state, beneath to animadversion on Alteration 74 but fabricated his animosity about Prop 112 actual clear:
“I argue Proposition 112. It is bad for Colorado’s abridgement and is decidedly bad for the 4th Congressional District,” Buck said. “This advance on clandestine acreage rights will not alone leave activity industry workers abandoned but will accept a abrogating aftereffect on families and businesses beyond the district.”
Buck’s Democratic opponent, veterinarian Karen McCormick, opposes 74 and 112.
“Amendment 74 has adverse implications for Colorado taxpayers and this admeasurement will additionally abash our admiral from demography activity to account communities or assure accessible resources,” McCormick said of a predicted beachcomber of litigation. “Many of the taxpayers in my commune are already financially overburdened, and Alteration 74 will alone add to the ascent amount of active here.”
McCormick says 112 doesn’t absolutely get at the affection of the botheration with conduct operations a homes and schools. She says she’ll seek accurate solutions to abate the impacts of drilling.
“Coloradans accept apprenticed me to assure their livelihoods as our average chic continues to shrink,” McCormick said. “Proposition 112, in its accepted form, does not do abundant to abode hydraulic fracturing below homes and schools while aggressive the livelihoods of bags of alive Coloradans and their families.”
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