Supporters say ruling on Initiatives 75 and 78 is not the final say
Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking was informed today that not enough signatures were validated by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to place Initiatives 75 & 78 on the November ballot. At this time, Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking is reviewing the ruling and the disallowed signatures to determine whether to file a challenge.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office announced in a press release Monday:
“Two proposed ballot measures aimed at adding more limitations on oil and natural gas drilling in Colorado failed to make the November ballot because supporters didn’t collect enough valid voter signatures, Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced today.
Citizens who are trying to get an issue on the ballot must submit 98,492 voter signatures. Supporters of the two measures collected more than that for each proposal, but not enough to compensate for the number of signatures that were rejected during the random sample. Initiative No. 75 would have given local governments the authority to regulate oil-and-gas development, including banning fracking. Initiative No. 78 called for a mandatory 2,500-foot setback around oil-and-gas operations.
The proponents have 30 days from today to appeal the decision to the Denver District Court …”
Tricia Olson, executive director of Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking, said, “As we review the ruling, we want to assure our volunteers and supporters that we are as committed as ever to giving the residents of Colorado a say this November on whether their communities can regulate fracking.”
“That fracking is dangerous to the health and safety of the state’s residents resonated loudly in every corner of the state. Today’s announcement is not the final action on this issue as countless residents are now committed to protecting their children’s schools, parks and homes.”
Yes to Health and Safety Over Fracking faced an unprecedented $15 million anti-signature campaign funded by the oil and gas industry. The Decline to Sign campaign was highlighted by intimidation tactics to scare voters from signing petitions and punctuated by a disinformation effort that saw radio and television ads designed to confuse voters about the Initiatives.
In addition, recent polling conducted by Ciruli Associates for the CO Water Conservation Board indicated that Coloradans support Initiative 78 by a wide margin, with 57 percent in favor, 30 percent against and 13 percent undecided.
“We will not be cowed by the anti-democratic efforts of the oil and gas industry,” Suzanne Spiegel of Frack Free Colorado said.
“The ‘Decline to Sign’ campaign only served to highlight the industry’s stranglehold on the state government. The actions of the industry have only served to galvanize supporters and we intend to fight the destructive and dangerous fracking practices that harm our health and destroy our environment.”
“This is only the beginning, we will continue to fight to ensure that our communities, health, and planet are put first, said Lizeth Chacon, Executive Director of Colorado People’s Alliance. “We will not let the oil and gas industry stop us from fighting for what is right. Our message today is clear, fracking can’t be regulated and we will stop it in Colorado in order to protect our communities and workers.”
“A parent’s job is to protect their children,” said Maria Orms of Adams County. “If the state is willing to allow fracking facilities into our neighborhoods where not just the quality of life is affected but also the health and safety of our families are put at risk, we will not rest until this stops. We are the beginning of a movement, not the end and everyday we meet more people that are joining us and willing to work tirelessly to protect our neighborhoods and the children. The regulation of 500 feet from homes is not adequate and nothing can make that safe for children. No amount of money or harassment will make it acceptable.”
“We won’t stop fighting for the people of Colorado, said Micah Parkin with 350 Colorado. “Fracking is a short-term ‘boom’ for the fossil fuel industry that will leave us with poisoned communities, decreased property values, and a more severe climate crisis, and polling shows that the people of Colorado don’t want it by their homes and schools.”
Initiative #75, Local Governmental Control of Oil and Gas Development, would recognize that oil and gas development should be subject to local jurisdiction like every other industry. The measure would give local governments a wide range of options to protect their communities and neighborhoods from the harms associated with oil and gas development, including fracking.
Initiative #78, Mandatory Setbacks from Oil and Gas Development, would establish a buffer zone of 2,500′ (less than ½ mile) between new oil and gas development and homes, hospitals, schools and sensitive areas like playgrounds and drinking water sources. A 2,500′ setback takes its basis from health studies showing elevated health risk to human health within ½ mile of “fracked” wells. It also takes into account the perimeters needed for explosion, evacuation, and burn zones.
“Despite the countless hours and the thousands of Coloradans who spoke in support of protecting the health and safety of Colorado communities, the movement faced an unprecedented flow of money from the oil and gas opposition,” said Diana Best, Greenpeace USA climate and energy campaigner, based in Denver. “We may be disappointed today, but tomorrow we get back to work empowering communities and keeping fossil fuels in the ground. This fight is far from over.”
Lauren Petrie, Rocky Mountain Region Director with Food and Water Watch, which supported the petition drive for Nos. 75 and 78, told the Denver Business Journal that supporters of the initiatives plan to challenge the decision within the next two weeks.
“We’re looking into challenging the sample that was looked over by the state to see if there are valid signatures that were invalidated that should not have been,” Petrie said in an interview Monday.
Noting that the deadline to certify the ballot is only two weeks away, Petrie said she hoped a challenge would be filed sooner rather than later.
“We’re still hopeful. When we were doing our own internal samples the validity rate was over 94 percent. We’re hopeful that we can turn that validity rate around and get on the ballot in the next two weeks,” she said.
Petition verification summary for No. 75 (local control initiative):
Total number of qualified signatures submitted — 107,232
5% of qualified signatures submitted (random sample) — 5,362
Total number of entries accepted (valid) from the random sample — 3,982
Total number of entries rejected (invalid) from the random sample — 1,380
Number of projected valid signatures from the random sample — 79,634
Total number of signatures required for placement on ballot — 98,942
Projected percentage of required valid signatures — 80.85%
Petition verification summary for No. 78 (setback initiative):
Total number of qualified signatures submitted — 106,626
5% of qualified signatures submitted (random sample) — 5,332
Total number of entries accepted (valid) from the random sample — 3,856
Total number of entries rejected (invalid) from the random sample — 1,476
Number of projected valid signatures from the random sample — 77,109
Total number of signatures required for placement on ballot — 98,492
Projected percentage of required valid signatures — 78.29%
Here’s a look at the citizen-initiated measures that made the ballot, including the number of submitted signatures and the projected percentage of required valid signatures:
No. 20, State health care system: 158,831 signatures, 110.80%
No. 101, State minimum wage: 189,419 signatures, 116.70%
No. 145, Medical aid in dying: 155,676 signatures, 110.44%
No. 96, Requirements for constitutional amendments: 183,691 signatures, 129%
No. 143, New cigarette and tobacco taxes: 161,412 signatures, 118.74%
No. 98, Primary elections: 147,707 signatures, 110.15%
No. 140, Presidential primary election: 152,213 signatures, 111.39%