Environmentalists Want To Amend Colorado’s Constitution To Ban Fracking

Reuters/Jim Urquhart

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A Colorado environmental group proposed 11 ballot measures to the state legislature Tuesday to amend the state’s constitution to restrict or even ban hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking.

The environmental group, Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED), has pushed the ballot measures since December. The measures include everything from  delaying the permitting process for companies looking to frack, to regulations giving local governments the power to regulate fracking, to an outright ban on fracking in Colorado.

The ballot measures are a response to the generally pro-energy regulatory environment of the state. They are intended to amend the state’s constitution, as the Colorado Supreme Court is likely to strike down recent actions against fracking on constitutional grounds.

“Organizations like CREED will only drive oil companies to other states that welcome their business and money and that will hurt our county and state budgets,” John Kinkaid, the commissioner of Moffat County in Colorado, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Colorado needs to put out the welcome mat and turn on the open sign.  The poor and middle class will suffer the most if the fracking ballot initiatives are successful as a rising tide lifts all boats.  In Moffat County our labor participation rate is 70%. We need to do much better.”

This isn’t the first time anti-oil and gas interests have tried to halt fracking in the state. Colorado Democrats floated a ballot measure to ban fracking last year, but that measure was pulled from the ballot at the last minute in exchange for creating a commission to study existing regulations and propose changes.

Fracking has caused an economic boom in Colorado. In 2012, the oil and gas industry added $29.6 billion to Colorado’s economy, 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.

“I don’t know how the United States even begins to pay off a national debt of $20 trillion without robustly developing our natural resources.  Here in Colorado, we need to create a more business friendly environment for oil and gas development,” continued Kinkaid.

Fracking in Colorado helped America pass Russia to become the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. Oil production in 2014 was 80 percent higher than production in 2008.

“I feel the state has not done enough to protect its residents from the impacts of commercial hydraulic fracturing,” Tricia Olson, executive director of CREED, told The Gazette. “People could be exposed right next to their homes and schools to this heavy industrial practice.”

Colorado contains much of the world’s largest untapped oil reserve, the Green River Formation. This formation alone contains up to three trillion barrels of untapped oil shale, half of which may be recoverable. That’s five and a half times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. This single geologic formation could contain more oil than the rest of the world’s proven reserves combined.

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