A loss on the 2018 ballot and wins in the Legislature last year won't deter a citizen advocacy organization from trying again to establish setbacks for oil-and-gas operations from homes, schools and businesses.
Colorado Rising, the same organization behind Proposition 112 two years ago, said Tuesday it would seek voter approval this November for the same setback of 2,500 feet "identical to Prop 112."
The organization is will collect signatures for similar ballot questions related to setbacks, including provisions of "vulnerable areas" such as federally recognized Superfund pollution sites and special requirements on financing new wells.
Proposition 112 failed by more than 10 percentage points, with fierce opposition and financial backing from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and individual industry interests.
COGA stands ready to take on the issue again.
“This is déjà vu all over again," Dan Haley, COGA's president and CEO, said in a statement. "Last election, Coloradans decisively defeated an energy industry ban that would have shredded private property rights and put working families on the unemployment line.
"Now, keep-it-in-the ground activists are back, pushing the same extreme measure and a few ‘112 lites.’ I’m confident Coloradans will again stand with working families and decline to sign these disastrous petitions."
He said the industry is under an "intense regulatory microscope" because of Senate Bill 181.
“Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry creates good jobs, produces affordable and reliable energy that we all need and use, and we’re doing it cleaner, safer and smarter than anywhere else," Haley said. "The technology and innovation taking place out in the field is impressive, with geologists, engineers, and environmental managers overseeing projects that protect our water and improve our air quality, and the data supports our successes.”
The Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association also put out a statement predicting voters would "soundly call for an end to the extremism" and touting the benefits of the industry to Colorado communities.
"Policy makers and citizens from both sides of the aisle soundly rejected the 2018 measure, especially here on the West Slope. We are confident we will keep these initiatives from even making the ballot by not signing the petitions," the trade association said in its statement.
Opponents and proponents collectively spent more than $38 million fighting over Proposition 112 and Amendment 74, another failed effort that would have forced government to reimburse those who lose property value based on government decisions related to oil and gas.
Colorado currently requires a 500-foot setback for homes and 1,000 feet for schools, hospitals and other occupied buildings.
Last year, Democrats in the Legislature passed Senate Bill 181 to give local governments more authority on where oil and gas operations are located. The new law, however, isn't moving fast enough to satisfy those behind the latest ballot effort.
“We have earnestly participated in the legislative and rulemaking process for the past year and have seen little improvement in the overall protections for Colorado residents and the environment from industrial fracking activity," Anne Lee Foster, a spokeswoman for Colorado Rising said in a statement Tuesday. "The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has only completed one rulemaking in the last year and the result was disappointing with many concessions granted to protect corporate profit. We have little faith in these government agencies to reject corporate influence and make scientifically-backed regulations.
"Therefore we will again take on the enormous task of running a ballot initiative. This is a reasonable and necessary action to protect the health and safety of our communities and our global climate.”
To qualify for the ballot any of the measures would have to have the verified signatures of 124,632 Colorado voters, once the Secretary of State's Office approves the ballot language.