DENVER – The Colorado governor’s office confirmed Friday it has drafted a bill that officials hope will be a compromise that would keep the issue of local control over drilling off the ballots in November.
Sources close to the negotiations said the governor’s office will spend the weekend trying to persuade the oil and gas industry and opponents of hydraulic fracturing to back the bill in a special session that could be called for June 16.
Gov. John Hickenlooper has worked for several months with select members of the oil and gas industry and Congressman Jared Polis to find middle ground on the issue.
Polis has said he will back some of the 11 proposed ballot initiatives that would strengthen local control on drilling or impose larger set-back requirements from buildings. The oil and gas industry is opposed to the ballot measures, and believes control of the industry primarily rests with the state.
“What the governor has made clear is first we need an agreement that has support from Democrats, Republicans and the broad array of stakeholders, and that’s something we’re still working toward,” said Eric Brown, spokesman for the governor …
… Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, said members of the association were reviewing the draft bill on Friday afternoon.
“Our primary job is to look at and analyze the bill on its face,” said Dempsey. “We need to also hear what the governor’s thoughts are about what other components there are to the deal, particularly with Congressman Polis.”
Dempsey said his group has not been included in the negotiations leading to the draft bills. Instead, two of the state’s largest operators, Noble Energy and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., have been more involved in the discussions …
…Cliff Willmeng, who led the Community Rights Network efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing in Lafayette, said his group has not been included in the conversations, nor has he seen a draft version of the bill.
“The solutions that are being proposed are coming from the industry and politicians,” Willmeng said …
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Coalition statement: Citizens push back against draft legislation on local control of gas drilling, fracking
Denver, CO — On Friday, Governor Hickenlooper released draft legislation on local control that would call a special session of the Colorado legislature to consider a bill that could jeopardize the ability of local jurisdictions to protect themselves from drilling and fracking for gas and oil within their boundaries.
In response, community groups, Frack Free Colorado, Our Broomfield, Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins and Our Longmont and Sierra Club, Environment Colorado, Food & Water Watch released the following statements:
“This ‘compromise’ is a sweetheart deal for the oil and gas industry. The thousands of moms, dads and community members in Broomfield who voted to protect our constitutional rights were not consulted on this proposal. We are adamantly opposed to it,” said Laura Fronckiewicz with Our Broomfield.
“We are deeply dismayed that this proposal will not protect the will of tens of thousands of Fort Collins residents who voted to protect public health, safety and property values from fracking last November,” said Kelly Giddens with Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins.
“The continual plotting and planning by Governor Hickenlooper and the oil and gas industry to thwart or overthrow the will of the people of Colorado must end. This so-called compromise is nothing of the sort. Our Longmont vehemently opposes this back-room deal and will vigorously fight its implementation. The people of Longmont voted overwhelmingly to ban fracking and its waste products within our city and we will accept nothing short of complete acceptance of our constitutional right to protect our health, safety, welfare and property. This concoction is nothing more than smoke and mirrors and we trust the people will recognize it as such,” said Kaye Fissinger, President and Chair of the Board of Directors of Our Longmont.
“Governor Hickenlooper and the oil and gas industry have a serious problem on their hands, it’s called democracy. This bill is their latest move to disenfranchise Colorado citizens on the issue of fracking. As scientific studies continue to confirm the major health risks of fracking, this bill does nothing to ensure Coloradan’s health and well-being. It’s a blatant attempt to permanently remove Colorado communities’ right to self-determination on fracking. Jared Polis does not speak for the hundreds of moms, dads, doctors, teachers and everyday citizens who volunteered tirelessly to use the democratic process to pass initiatives in 2012 and 2013 to protect their communities from the dangers of fracking. If Colorado citizens are unable to participate in determining how our private and public lands are used — to the benefit or detriment of our water, air, soil, and health — do we truly have democracy?” said Russell Mendell, Statewide Director of Frack Free Colorado.
“The Sierra Club stands beside the people of Colorado and the communities where fracking and drilling for oil and gas is destroying lives, polluting the air, and jeopardizing the health and well-being of this generation and generations to come. Governor Hickenlooper must likewise stand up to dirty polluters and say no to any legislation that preempts communities from standing up for their own life and liberty. Coloradans should have the fundamental right to protect their air and water, and not have that right usurped by big oil interests,” said Catherine Collentine, Colorado Dirty Fuels Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club.
“All Coloradans deserve clean air, clean water, and a healthy place to raise their families. Unfortunately the fracking boom has turned the American dream into a nightmare for too many frontline communities. Environment Colorado is pushing the state and the nation to a truly clean energy future, relying on solar, wind and other renewable sources. Local communities have the right, and need the power to control whether fracking will happen within their borders, and if it does, where and how. Environment Colorado stands with local communities and will only support policies that give local people real control and real protections for their air and water, their families and their communities,” said Kim Stevens, Campaign Director at Environment Colorado.
“After threatening to sue any community that protects their health, safety and property to ban fracking, Governor Hickenlooper is trying to cut a secret deal to strip communities of an important tool to keep this dangerous, industrial activity away from homes, schools and public parks. Local communities deserve the right to ban fracking. We oppose this deal for taking away that right,” said Sam Schabacker, Mountain West Region Organizer for Food and Water Watch.
Click here to read Draft legislation
- Recognizes state and local dual authority over oil & gas operations and expressly states that local and state requirements are to be implemented harmoniously, to the extent possible, and that the goals of the state from the Oil and Gas Act are to be harmonized with local requirements, to the extent possible.
- Confirms state authority found within Oil and Gas act.
- Confirms local authority as it pertains to land use, setbacks, surface effects, health, safety, welfare and police power authority otherwise granted to local governments.
- Grants authority to local governments to enact setbacks from homes and high occupancy structures.
- Grants authority to local governments to regulate noise associated with oil and gas operations.
- Grants authority to allow local governments to conduct inspections and monitoring for compliance with local permit conditions. Allows local government to charge reasonable fees to cover costs.
- Establishes that state health, safety and welfare and environmental standards are the minimal standards for oil and gas operations. Establishes that local regulations in the areas of land use, setbacks, surface effects, health, safety or welfare requirements may be more stringent than state requirements, provided said regulations are not preempted.
- Recognizes that a local regulation that is an operational conflict is preempted. Clarifies operational conflict standard to establish that a local government requirement is preempted if it materially impedes the recovery of the oil and gas resource impacted by the local requirement.
- Recognizes discretionary authority to local governments to operational conflict waiver hearing process, with appeal of adverse local government decision going to the appropriate district court.
- Provides for local government authority to enact moratorium covering oil and gas operations providing the length of time is not arbitrary or excessive and the moratorium is based upon a length of time reasonably necessary to facilitate informed decision-making and planning to regulate oil and gas operations.
- Grants local governments monitoring for state standard compliance to be able to assess fees to cover the costs of monitoring.
- Provides that local governments must act on a completed application within 180 days of it being deemed complete by the local government.
- Provides that the act does not alter or affect existing local government regulations, neither shall requirements enacted pursuant to the act by local governments be construed to alter or diminish valid existing rights as of the date the new requirements are enacted.