Colorado Anti-Fracking Ballot Measure Has ‘Potentially Forged’ Signatures

(REUTERS/Larry Downing)

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Colorado officials identified “several potentially forged signature lines” on a failed anti-fracking ballot measure pushed by environmental activists to restrict drilling inside state lines.

Officials said “No. 78,” a measure calling for a 2,500-foot setback on hydraulic fracturing, may have had forged signatures, and Colorado State Department officials “referred the questionable section to the Attorney General’s office for investigation.”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced Monday that “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.”

Both those ballot measures were pushed by environmentalists seeking a de facto ban on fracking — a process that involved pumping water, sand and some chemicals deep underground to unlock previously untapped oil and natural gas deposits.

Environmentalists are looking to resurrect a failed effort from 2014 to allow local governments to ban fracking. This year, they again tried for a ballot measure to allow local governments to ban fracking, and they also put forward a measure mandating a 2,500-foot setback for drilling operations.

Both measures, however, failed to get enough votes to be on the ballot this November. The anti-fracking measures each got about 80 percent of the required valid signatures to make it on the ballot, according to state officials.

But not all environmentalists were backing the anti-fracking measures. Politico reports some “mainstream” activists wanted the measures to die in order to avoid a political beatdown by the oil and gas industry.

“If I were a betting person, I would not bet they would get on the ballot,” a Colorado environmentalist told Politico under the condition of anonymity.

“If they do get on the ballot, the oil and gas industry will just pummel this state. Democrats and moderate Republicans won’t want to touch this issue for quite some time,” they said.

Colorado has been a battleground over fracking for years, with environmentalists trying to get local governments to ban the drilling technique after they failed to get a statewide ban passed.

The Colorado Supreme Court stopped environmentalists in May, when they ruled local fracking bans violated state law, which gives authority over natural resource extraction to state lawmakers. Bans passed in Fort Collins and Longmont were overturned.

Colorado’s oil and natural gas production exploded in recent years, thanks to fracking into shale formations. State oil production quadrupled from 2004 to 2014 while natural gas production rose 51 percent over that time period, according to federal data.

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