Coloradans may vote to block oil and gas drilling in most of their state after anti-fracking activists gathered enough support to introduce the measure to the ballot in November.
The measure, called Initiative 97, would ban oil and gas wells within 2,500 feet of homes, businesses and protected areas such as playgrounds and historic sites. Environmentalists struggled for years to introduce similar measures in 2014 and 2016, neither of which made a ballot.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced Tuesday that this year the anti-fracking campaign reached a milestone, gathering enough support to earn Initiative 97 a state-wide up-or-down vote.
“I think that this is an issue that is increasingly on people’s radar,” Anne Lee Foster, a volunteer organizer with Colorado Rising, the group behind Initiative 97, told The Denver Post. “This is something that the people of Colorado really care about. They want to protect the long-term welfare and quality of life in Colorado.”
Current laws set oil and gas drilling back 500 feet from buildings and 350 feet from recreational areas.
The ballot measure has drawn bipartisan opposition among the state’s lawmakers. (RELATED: Lawmakers Are Rallying To Protect Fracking From Environmentalists In Colorado)
Initiative 97 would ban oil and gas drilling in roughly 85 percent of the state, a radical, “inflexible” suggestion for Democrats that are otherwise for scaling back Colorado’s oil and gas presence.
The oil and gas industry in Colorado has experienced a recent revival and boom across the state as oil hit $70 a barrel. Colorado is the seventh largest state for oil and gas drilling. The rise in industry activity corresponded with an increase in the state’s population, causing more friction between residents and industry in recent months.
“While the opponents of this job-killing measure consider their options regarding today’s announcement, it bears repeating that this measure, if ultimately enacted, will define our state’s economy and job opportunities for generations to come,” Colorado Petroleum Council executive director Tracee Bentley said in a statement. “If passed, Initiative 97 could devastate the economic livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, both in and out of the energy industry.”
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