The one thing Proposition 112 has managed to achieve is uniting Coloradans in opposing it.
Extreme to its very core, this measure – which would put 94 percent of private land in the top five oil and natural gas producing counties off limits to new energy development — has drawn bipartisan opposition from all corners of the state. Opponents include both majority party candidates for Colorado governor, Democrat Jared Polis and Republican Walker Stapleton, as well as unions and chambers of commerce and rural and urban communities and their elected leaders.
Why? Because passage of Prop 112 would have devastating impacts on Colorado’s economy and result in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and up to $1 billion a year in tax revenue to state and local communities for schools and public safety. In Weld County, for instance, property tax revenue from oil and natural gas production has brought in over $137 million a year for K-12 schools, according to the Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR), a non-profit, free-enterprise think tank. The Colorado Department of Local Affairs has reported that responsible energy development provided $839 million in total to K-12 schools across the state in 2015 and 2016.
Over 75 percent of the jobs at stake — nearly 150,000 in the next 12 years – would hit those in sectors other than energy development, such as health care, construction, hotel and food services, real estate and local government, including teachers, according to a recent CSPR study. During that same time period, the state would lose $218 billion in GDP, $147 billion in personal income and $7 to $9 billion in local and state tax revenue.
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And not one of these numbers takes into account where and how the state would replace the lost energy production and the price tag attached to it. Currently, Colorado is the least expensive out of all 50 states for electricity, natural gas and other forms of energy, according to a WalletHub study.
There is no credible study finding 2,500-foot setbacks provide any more protection than current setbacks. That is why the true intention of Prop 112 is to ban energy development. Proponents do this by arguing a false equivalency: oil and natural gas development can’t coexist with safe communities. Colorado has already shown that this is completely false.
Over the past nine years and 14 rulemakings, Colorado became the first state in the nation to require disclosure of fracking fluid ingredients and require water sampling before and after drilling. We were also the first state to pass methane regulations to capture air pollutants. Those regulations are more protective than the federal standards. Additionally, the state health department has consistently found that the current setback requirements ensure the health and safety of Coloradans. In fact, last year, the department found that 10,000 air samples in oil and gas areas “were below short and long-term safe levels.” Overall, the state health department has found that the risk of harmful effects “is low for Coloradans living near oil and gas operations.” And as new technology and innovation continue to evolve, an already safe industry is only becoming safer.
Don’t be fooled by extremists funded by out-of-state money who want to ban safe and responsible energy development in Colorado. Vote No on Prop 112.