Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and his Republican challenger Darryl Glenn came out against local governments banning hydraulic fracturing at a recent debate.
When asked by debate moderators “should local governments in Colorado be allowed to ban fracking with voter approval” both Bennet and Glenn answered “no.”
This is a big problem for major environmental groups like The Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch and Earthworks, which vehemently support such local bans as their attempt to amend Colorado’s constitution to ban fracking fell flat.
Colorado’s Supreme Court struck down attempts by local governments to ban fracking in May. Other state and federal courts have agreed only the state governments have the legal authority to regulate fracking, as any ban would be “preempted by state law and therefore, is invalid and unenforceable.” The oil and gas industry has historically been regulated by state, not local, government.
Other major Democrats including presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper have supported the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling over the objections of their green political allies. The only major political figure to openly support local bans is Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
When The Denver Post asked Hickenlooper, a former geologist, why he thought Trump was wrong to support local bans in Colorado the governor responded, “if you turn over total responsibility to the local communities, they are subject to the voters who aren’t anywhere near the (fracking site) but will, in many cases … vote to ban any oil and gas activity at all.”
Environmentalists attempt to get an initiative that would ban fracking across 90 percent of Colorado on the ballot in November, but failed to get the necessary signatures. If it had been enacted, the initiative would cost $14.5 billion in lost economic output and 104,000 jobs, according to a study by economists at the University of Colorado.
Energy is a huge portion of Colorado’s economy and fracking has caused an economic boom in Colorado. The oil and gas industry added $29.6 billion to Colorado’s economy in 2012, or about 10 percent of all annual economic activity in the state. The industries also supported 111,500 jobs, allowing the state to recover from the Great Recession faster than its neighbors.
The fracking industry in Colorado is expected to expand, too. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) officials said in June that parts of western Colorado have upwards of 40 times more natural gas than previously believed, making the state the second largest natural gas-producing formation in the America.
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