National Big Green Groups Race To Support Anti-Fracking Measure In Colorado
A pair of well-funded, national anti-fossil fuel groups today rushed to announce they were ready to “get to work” passing Colorado’s Initiative 97, a statewide 2,500-foot setback that will appear on November’s ballot.
The Colorado Secretary of State confirmed today that the proponents of the measure, Colorado Rising, had submitted sufficient valid signatures to cover the requirement of 98,492 signatures in order to appear in this fall’s election.
Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch (FWW) and 350.org’s Colorado affiliate both trumpeted their support and plans to back the setback with organizational and ostensible financial support.
“We are delighted that Colorado voters will get the opportunity to protect their families from toxic fracking,” FWW Colorado’s organizer Jason Harrison wrote in a statement. “Coloradans should not be subjected to the health hazards of oil and gas operations near their homes, schools, hospitals or parks. This campaign is driven by dedicated volunteers and grassroots power and we are eager to get to work to help pass this initiative.”
A Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission study released in July showed that a 2,500-foot setback would bar more than 85 percent of the state’s non-federal land from future oil and gas development. Putting so much surface area off-limits to development could lead to billions in local and state tax losses by 2030—as much as $1.1 billion annually—according to an economic analysis of the measure conducted by Common Sense Policy Roundtable.
350 Northern Colorado shared Colorado Rising’s post announcing they made the November ballot.
“Safer Setbacks are officially on the November ballot! How will you help make sure we secure WIN on this measure? Sign up to volunteer today!” the Facebook group wrote.
FWW has been in the field for at least three months working to push the five-fold setback increase opposed by a bipartisan raft of candidates and former Colorado officials including Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Interior Secretaries Ken Salazar and Gale Norton, and gubernatorial candidates U.S. Rep. Jared Polis and Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton.
Fundraising records from Colorado’s TRACER system show a contribution of $190,000 from FWW Action Fund to Colorado Rising through the August 1 reporting period. They also provided an in-kind contribution of helping to gather signatures—the group was certified by Colorado’s SOS in May.
The FWW Action Fund’s press release includes a Washington, D.C. mailing address and an Oakland area code phone contact, Julie Light.
The group is no stranger to Colorado, backing a “Coloradans Against Fracking” campaign in 2015 that called for a statewide ban.
Colorado Petroleum Council’s Executive Director Tracee Bentley, said Initiative 97’s effects would be felt for generations if passed.
“While the opponents of this job-killing measure consider their options regarding today’s announcement, it bears repeating that this measure, if ultimately enacted, will define our state’s economy and job opportunities for generations to come,” Bentley said in a statement. “If passed, Initiative 97 could devastate the economic livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, both in and out of the energy industry. Entire communities would involuntarily find themselves closed for business. Tax revenues would plummet, crippling essential funding for education and health care across the state.”
Bentley’s counterpart, Colorado Oil and Gas Association President Dan Haley, agreed, saying the stakes could not be higher and amounted to a de facto ban on oil and gas projects in the state going forward.
“Coloradans need to know exactly what is at stake: private property rights, more than 100,000 goodpaying jobs, more than $1 billion in taxes for schools, parks and libraries, and our nation’s energy security,” Haley said. “A half-mile setback is a blatant attempt by activists to ban oil and natural gas in Colorado and put working families on the unemployment line.”