Adams County halts drilling permits due to ballot measure

Most Democratic candidates this year could be talking down fracking. That’s not a surprise, especially now that it’s official.

The Colorado Democratic Party’s State Executive and Central Committee met July 14 at Elizabeth High School in Elbert County to tend to business, including supporting Initiative 97 to require fracking operations to be at least 2,500-foot setbacks from homes and other occupied buildings.

If the measure qualifies for the ballot, it will become entangled with the governor’s race, where Republican Walker Stapleton is a supporter of the industry and Democrat Jared Polis wants to move the state toward renewable energy.

The state party also endorsed Initiative 126 to cap annual payday loan interest at 36 percent.

The party also elected former congressional candidate Bob Seay as its secretary.

Colorado Politics learned of the party’s decisions via social media, where the opposition to oil and gas was characterized as a “resounding yes.” The state party confirmed the positions but did not comment further.

While candidates take guidance from the party’s positions, they aren’t bound by them.

Asked to comment, Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the industry’s trade group in the state, said he sounded disappointed that the party would align against an industry that provides thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic impact and taxes in the state.

“Democrats have long prided themselves on supposedly being the party of working people, yet in Colorado they’ve endorsed an initiative that would put tens of thousands of working families across the state out of work,” he told Colorado Politics. “Our industry works hard every day to protect the environment, to protect our workforce, and to protect the communities in which we operate. We’re not perfect but I can guarantee that we’re better today than we were last year, let alone five years ago. This is what happens when you put politics ahead of people.”

Supporters of each measure has until Aug. 6 to turn in at last 98,492 signatures from registered voters to get on the November ballot.

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