Colorado initiative to require 2,500-foot setback for oil and gas drilling makes ballot

Published on August 31, 2018 by Dave Kovaleski

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Initiative 97, a proposal in Colorado that would make 85 percent of non-federal land off-limits to natural gas and oil development, has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot in November.

The initiative will ensure a safety zone of 2,500 feet between new oil and gas drilling operations and homes, schools, playgrounds and drinking water sources. The distance of 2,500 feet aligns with medical studies that show an increased risk of negative health impacts within this zone, Colorado Rising officials said.

The initiative got more than 170,000 signatures, exceeding the approximately 98,000 needed to get on the ballot in November.

“We are excited that the democratic process has prevailed despite the oil and gas industry’s blatant attempts at stopping this important issue from reaching voters in November. This measure is designed to protect the long-term quality of our lives, our health, and a robust economy that is dependent on the natural beauty that Colorado is so famous for,” Anne Lee Foster at Colorado Rising said.

The oil and gas industry, however, says that the initiative would hurt the economy if passed.

“If passed, Initiative 97 could devastate the economic livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, both in and out of the energy industry. Entire communities would involuntarily find themselves closed for business. Tax revenues would plummet, crippling essential funding for education and health care across the state,” Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Tracee Bentley said. “Colorado voters should look at the facts and defeat this job-and-economy-killing proposal.”

Colorado’s natural gas and oil industry supports over 232,900 jobs, which represents 6.5 percent of total employment in the state. It contributes $31.4 billion in economic impact per year, including over $1.2 billion in public revenue annually.