DENVER — From the Chamber of Commerce’s swank downtown offices Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced his staunch opposition to the two ballot initiatives that would mandate fracking industry setbacks of 2,000 feet and grant communities the power to limit development in their area. The governor’s announcement followed the disintegration earlier this week of lawmakers’ negotiations with industry, environmental and community representatives over a legislative compromise on the local control of oil and gas development.
“The 2,000-foot setback ballot initiative is not by any measure about local control. Instead it imposes an arbitrary limit throughout the entire state and provides no room to adjust based on local realities,” said Hickenlooper, adding that he’ll “do whatever it takes” to defeat the measures.
When asked about the second initiative to create an “environmental bill of rights,” Hickenlooper said that the issue was too complex for a constitutional measure to adequately balance the competing interests of mineral, surface and adjacent property owners.
Hickenlooper thanked industry-backed groups like Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, Protect Colorado, and Coloradans for Responsible Reform for their educational service to the community, adding that Coloradans must unite in their opposition to the ballot initiatives.
“These measures risk literally thousands and thousands of jobs, billions in investment and millions in state and local tax revenue,” the governor said.
Boulder Congressman Jared Polis, who is funding both initiatives, told The Colorado Independent that he still believes there are options and that “most Coloradans are open to any of the ways this can be addressed.”
Coloradans for Safe and Clean Energy, the pro-initiatives group funded by Polis, was quick to respond to the Governor’s announcement and firm in their commitment to seeing the questions reach the ballot.
“The voters will now have the opportunity to do what the legislature couldn’t and pass common sense protections for our children and communities,” said spokeswoman Mara Sheldon. “Daily spills, earthquakes, gas fumes and loud noise will continue to directly effect all Coloradans without the protections Initiatives 88 and 89 offer.”
Despite the governor’s opposition and the earlier promise of a legislative compromise, the group has already collected just over 65,000 signatures for both ballot initiatives. They have until August 4th to gather the 86,105 signatures required to put the questions before voters this November.
[photo and video by Tessa Cheek]