On Monday I was all set to do a post about ballot initiatives 88 and 89 and how the committee turned in the signatures. I was even invited to the press conference in Denver but I couldn’t make it which is probably a good thing because this happened instead –
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday unveiled a delicately balanced compromise on local control of oil and gas drilling that will remove all the initiatives on the issue from the November ballot.
The ballot battle was shaping up to be the most expensive campaign in the state’s history.
U.S. Rep Jared Polis, D-Boulder, agreed to drop two measures he supported aimed at requiring drilling rigs to be setback 2,000 feet from homes and bolstering local control by adding a environmental bill of rights to the state constitution.
Backers of two industry-supported measures — Initiative 121, which would have withheld state oil and gas revenue from communities banning drilling, and Initiative 137, which required a fiscal impact note for all initiative s— said they too would pull back …
… Hickenlooper said he will appoint a commission to make recommendations to the legislature on ways “to minimize land-use conflicts that can occur when siting oil and gas facilities near homes, schools, business and recreational facilities.”
“For the first time this puts citizens on an equal footing with industry,” Polis said in an interview …
… The deal, however, drew criticism from grass-roots groups opposed to drilling.
“You feel used,” said Therese Gilbert, a member of Weld Air and Water, who spent weeks collecting signatures for two ballot measures. “I don’t see that this protects anyone” …
… At the statehouse news Monday conference, Hickenlooper and Polis outlined the compromise, which involves four steps.
The governor create the commission to make recommendations to the legislature — by a two-thirds vote.
It will be chaired by La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lacheltand XTO Energy president Randy Cleveland.
“Citizens have always been at a disadvantage on these issues but will have a level playing field in this commission,” Lachelt said in an interview.
Under the compromise, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will also drop its lawsuit against the city of Longmont over its oil and gas ordinance …
I try to avoid knee jerk reactions to political crap like this. I usually take a more thoughtful, measured approach. Or I ignore it altogether. But this is totally fracked up.
By the end of April there were no less than 11 proposed ballot initiatives floating around. Oh sure, some of them were redundant, others were unconstitutional. There were problems. Democracy is messy. Above all, the clear message was that Colorado citizens are sick and tired of being run over by the oil & gas industry and they are desperate to get some controls back within their communities, their properties, and their lives. And we are desperate to be heard.
So anyway those 11 proposed ballot initiatives got whittled down to two – 88 and 89.
Initiative 88, 2,000-foot Oil and Gas setback requirement
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a statewide setback requirement for new oil and gas wells, and, in connection therewith, changing existing setback requirements to require any new oil or gas well to be located at least 2,000 feet from the nearest occupied structure; and authorizing a landowner to waive the setback requirement for any structure located on the owner’s property?
Initiative 89, Local Government Regulation of Environment
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a public right to Colorado’s environment, and, in connection therewith, declaring that Colorado’s environment is the common property of all Coloradans; specifying that the environment includes clean air, pure water, and natural and scenic values and that state and local governments are trustees of this resource; requiring state and local governments to conserve the environment; and declaring that if state or local laws conflict the more restrictive law or regulation governs?
I didn’t see any problem with signing the petition for 89 — except if it passed, the state and/or industry probably would have tied it up in court because that’s what they do.
Initiative 88 was a dilemma for me. Our family study last spring showed that when it comes to protecting public health, the issue is far more complex than setbacks. And the catastrophic well blowout and fire last month in Clarington, Ohio, proves that 2,000 feet is not far enough. If you don’t agree, read the article. Shrapnel rained down all around.
And yet, if I was a mom with 2 kids in school and there’s a well pad going in across the street, I’ll settle for 2,000 feet. ANYTHING to get that well pad away from my kids’ school. I looked on it as a temporary fix and signed the petition for the kids.
Having said all that, the fact that these 2 initiatives were imperfect is NOT the point. In the Denver Post article Therese Gilbert (Weld Air and Water member) who spent weeks collecting signatures for two ballot measures said: “You feel used. I don’t see that this protects anyone.”
Hundreds of dedicated volunteers collected signatures totaling close to 300,000 for both initiatives. As anyone who has ever been involved in the petition process knows, gathering signatures is labor intensive work that requires extreme commitment.
Does anyone actually believe the hundreds of thousands of volunteers and citizens were represented in the secret meeting between Polis and Frackenlooper on Sunday night?
Therese is right. The environmental community was definitely used. A case could be made they were also betrayed. But that reminds me. The case is about to be closed. Maybe the whole point of this public exercise in futility was to get rid of the Longmont lawsuit because the state was going to lose.
Whatever the motives, we can’t seem to do anything in this state without secret deals in secret meetings. It’s like we’re governed by the mafia. The oil & gas mafia.
The outcome of this particular secret meeting is laughable – albeit insulting. In the early hours Monday they referred to their solution as a “task force.” A quick trip down the memory hole conjures the ghost of the Governor’s do-nothing task force of 2012.
Just insert 2014 in these articles about the 2012 task force and you’ll get the picture:
It’s like Groundhog Day. Easy to see why they quickly changed “task force” to “commission” by Monday night.
Wait a minute – don’t we already have a “commission”? Isn’t regulating the oil and gas industry the mission of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission?
In other words, Frackenlooper and Polis secretly decided in a secret meeting that the best way to address overwhelming public concerns about oil & gas drilling is to form a commission to regulate the commission that regulates the industry.
I call that a clusterfrack.
Rep Jared Polis will hold a Town Hall Meeting today.
Tuesday, August 5
4800 Baseline Road (Meadows on the Parkway Shopping Center)
Boulder, CO 80303
GRASSROOTS PRESS CONFERENCE will happen at 4:00 pm on the sidewalk of the Meadows Branch Public Library. The pre-town meeting press conference will be led by Shane Davis, the regional coordinator for the Gasland films and founder of Fracktivist.org. Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox will be the special guest speaker.
Click here and scroll down for map. Bring your signs and your voice!