DENVER– Colorado residents energized by successful movements over the last two years to ban or temporarily halt oil-and-gas fracking in cities on the northern Front Range submitted language Friday for a constitutional amendment that would make local control over oil-and-gas operations the law throughout the state.
“Not withstanding any other provision of law, local governments in Colorado may place restrictions on the time, place, or method of oil and gas development, including but not limited to the use of hydraulic fracturing, that are intended to protect their communities and citizens,” reads the proposed ballot initiative.
“Any such restrictions placed by local governments on oil and gas development are deemed not to be in conflict with the state’s interests.”
The initiative proponents, Laura Fronckiewicz and Kelly Giddens, were both leaders in successful efforts last year to halt fracking in their towns. Fronckiewicz was one of the leaders of the effort in Broomfield. Giddens helped lead the effort in Fort Collins.
Fronckiewicz said supporters of the initiative have been working for months on the proposal.
“It feels like forever we’ve been emailing and calling and going to meetings,” she said. “So we feel confident. We’ve had lawyers look over the language. We’ve definitely kicked the tires.”
Legislative Council lawyers in the coming weeks will review the initiative and can make suggestions, which the proponents can accept or reject. Then the initiative will go before the state’s title board for sign off, where it may draw challenges.
The coalition formed behind the initiative, Local Control Colorado, includes members of from groups such as Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, Our Broomfield, Frack Free Colorado, Protect Our Loveland, Our Longmont, Boulder County Citizens for Community Rights, 350 Colorado, Food and Water Watch, Citizens for a Healthy Community, and Pikes Peak Alliance for the Future.
Supporters of the proposed amendment will have to collect nearly 90,000 valid signatures by August to land the initiative on November’s ballot. There are no financial backers yet to pay for signature gathering, Fronckiewicz told the Independent, but she said she’s confident unpaid volunteers can do the job.
“People are familiar with this issue, all around the state. They’re doing their own research and talking about fracking and local control… It’s in the news.”
Fronckiewicz said that if the local efforts to ban fracking last year are any measure, there’s no way supporters of the initiative can match the resources likely to be marshaled against it by the oil-and-gas industry. She said the battle will be won on the ground again and in the social-media sphere.
“It will be door to door and Twitter and Facebook,” she said. “You break it up, neighborhood by neighborhood around the whole state.”
She noted that her group last year got started deep into the summer and still managed to collect more than 3,000 signatures. She said 10,000 people voted for the ban in Broomfield alone.
In addition to Broomfield and Fort Collins, Boulder, Longmont and Lafayette also all voted for bans and moratoriums over the last two years. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association sued Fort Collins, Longmont and Lafayette and the state has joined two lawsuits against Longmont.
Governor Hickenlooper has opposed local rules, arguing that it’s the state’s responsibility to set drilling policy and that a patchwork of local regulations would be difficult to navigate and would unnecessarily hobble an industry that is thriving in the state.
[ Image via Varorevilla ]