Mountain States

Colorado Rising Calls It Quits On New Ballot Initiatives

“Keep It In The Ground” activist group Colorado Rising recently announced that it is abandoning its campaign to put costly new anti-oil and natural gas initiatives up for a vote in November after admitting it couldn’t gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

As Reuters reported:

“A Colorado environmental group dropped plans to place an anti-fracking measure on the state’s November ballot citing the COVID-19 pandemic. … ‘We have concerns about volunteers,’ said Joe Salazar, Colorado Rising’s executive director, referring to the Covid-19 pandemic. He added, ‘we’ve run out of time’ to employ electronic gathering methods, the rules for which are still being developed by the state.”

The group has thrown up the white flag despite having an August deadline to collect enough signatures and Gov. Jared Polis signing an executive order “to create temporary rules to allow for mail and email signature collection” because of COVID-19.

In 2018, Colorado Rising gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, but its measure to increase the setback distance from oil and natural gas operations was soundly defeated. The group’s campaign for 2020 that was just dropped proposed similar setback measures.

After initially announcing its proposals in January, House Speaker KC Becker immediately declined to get behind Colorado Rising’s new efforts, saying “ballot initiatives weren’t needed” – a precursor of bad news to come.

Anti-oil and natural gas ballot measures have long faced bipartisan opposition in Colorado including from Polis in 2018 who remained notably silent on Colorado Rising’s proposal this year.

In response to the news, Dan Haley, President and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, said:

“This is a win for Colorado and for working families from Greeley to Grand Junction and everywhere in between. The end of this constant cycle of divisive battles at the ballot box will bring much needed stability and predictability to our state business climate as we begin to climb out of this economic hole. It provides a needed degree of certainty for Colorado businesses. We can now focus our time and efforts on moving Colorado forward and producing energy cleaner, safer and better than anywhere on the globe.”

Lynn Granger, Executive Director of API Colorado, said:

“Colorado Rising’s announcement this evening is welcome news, as their proposed ballot initiatives threatened to exact devastating economic impacts on our state at a time in which Colorado already faces unprecedented challenges. As we continue to constructively engage during the many rulemakings still to come this year, we remain hopeful that the ‘oil and gas wars’ in this state can truly come to an end.”

Diane Schwenke, President and CEO of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said:

“It was reckless to propose these ballot measures in the first place. Even with a fully functioning economy, they would have caused job losses in the tens of thousands and hundreds of millions of dollars of lost tax revenues for state and local governments.

We need reforms that take extreme politics out of the regulation of the energy sector, one of Colorado’s most important engines of economic growth. A whole sector of the economy shouldn’t be operating under constant threat from fringe environmental groups and politicians who pander to fringe environmental groups.”

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