A Colorado group pushing a ballot measure to allow local governments to ban fracking might soon be getting a windfall from California billionaire Tom Steyer, whose representatives visited the state last week and met those organizing the campaign.
Steyer, a hedge fund manager and an environmentalist, has pledged to spend $50 million of his own money on candidates and causes fighting against climate change. He also vowed to raise an equal amount from other donors.
Advisers to Steyer’s nonprofit, NexGen Climate — which has an affiliated super PAC — visited Colorado last week and met with representatives of Local Control Colorado, according to Environment & Energy Publishing (E&E).
“In the parlance of job seeking, it would be called an informational interview,” Rick Ridder, the spokesman for Local Control Colorado, told the website. “We seek the broadest coalition possible, and if their group is a part of that, we’d look forward to having their support.”
Ridder’s group is pushing several measures, including those that would increase the distance oil and gas operations have to be from schools, homes and other places to as far as 2,650 feet. The current setback is 500 feet.
Another measure would allow local municipalities to set their own rules for oil and gas operations, including by banning them.
Those who support the measure, however, insist it’s not a ban.
“Local control is not a ban; it’s not even a de facto ban,” said Cathy Collentine of the Sierra Club of Colorado during a conference call with energy analysts last week.
“Passing a ballot initiative around local control doesn’t change where you can or cannot drill or frack at this point,” she said. “It only changes it if the community passes something, whether it’s a moratorium or an outright ban.”
She admitted that as the election gets closer, supporters will have to fine-tune their semantics.
“A lot of those messaging points are going to be a little bit nuanced in that way,” she said.