Environmental activists in Colorado managed to get the state’s Senate to consider a pair of bills Wednesday that would make hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a lot harder to carry out in the state.
One of the bills up for debate Wednesday would place the legal blame for any earthquakes on companies engaged in fracking, even though multiple independent studies from seismologists, geologists and government agencies have confirmed that fracking does not cause damaging earthquakes. This bill was sponsored by Democratic State Rep. Joe Salazar.
The other bill would allow local governments to veto fracking projects, which is a power currently reserved for the state. This bill was sponsored by another Democrat, State Sen. Mary Hodge.
The pair of bills are unlikely to pass, but appear to be an attempt to build political support for ballot initiatives this November, as their sponsors sought political support from the green group behind a political campaign of 11 ballot measures proposed to the state legislature in January. The ballot measures would do everything from delaying fracking permitting processes to amending the state constitution to outright ban fracking in Colorado.
The pair of bills are “a real risk, it makes us appear like we’re anti-business,” John Hickenlooper, the state’s Democratic Governor, told a local CBS affiliate.
Local politicians have been quick to oppose the bills, citing the advantages of fracking for their communities.
“We have two states. Two Colorados. We have the Denver/Boulder corridor and then we have the other Colorado,” John Kinkaid, the commissioner of Moffat County in Colorado, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The Denver/Boulder corridor pushes for an end to fossil fuel development and they don’t care about the rest of Colorado getting hurt as a result.”
Colorado Democrats started floating legislation and ballot measures to ban fracking last year, but they were pulled from the ballot at the last minute in exchange for creating a commission to study existing regulations and propose changes. So far, the state’s Democratic governor has opposed most of the proposals as fracking and energy are a huge portion of Colorado’s economy.
“Fossil fuels help to keep the state going and paying its bills. Local governments depend on the severance tax dollars to get projects done,” Kinkaid continued. “We need to make Colorado more business friendly. These bills do the opposite.”
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.
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