Mountain States

In Blow to Ban-Fracking Campaign, Colorado State House Rejects “Local Control” Bill

The Democrat-controlled Colorado State House of Representatives today rejected a proposal to increase “local control” over oil and gas development.

The legislative defeat will come as a blow to activist groups that are attempting to place a “local control” ballot measure before Colorado voters in 2016, as well groups like Conservation Colorado, which launched a misinformation campaign in support of the proposal.

The issue has grown from the efforts of activists in Colorado to portray local governments as “powerless” when it comes to oil and gas development in our state. But as we have seen time and time again, these local-sounding talking points mask their national agenda to ban oil and gas development. The Denver Post editorial board even weighed in against the proposal saying:

“While officials in most Colorado cities and towns would seek responsible accommodation with the energy industry if they had final say in all siting decisions — indeed, most already do this — a few clearly would not choose such a course.”

The Denver Post goes on:

“They would instead either ban energy extraction outright or impose so many conditions and rules on permits as to make them impossible to obtain.”

Activist groups have not been shy about the fact that they see “local control” as a de facto ban on fracking. On a recent call with supporters, Tricia Olson of Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED), the group behind a series of ballot initiatives targeting energy development, even told the group that their “local control” measure is basically a “full-fledged” fracking ban:

“This version however has one significant difference, what we would call a floor, not a ceiling language. To lift its points, it authorizes local governments to pass regulations — prohibit, limit or impose moratoriums on oil and gas development. Of course the word prohibit means ban. This allows for a broad range of local government options within their jurisdictions from local actions to a full-fledged ban.” (23:14-23:44)

CREED is also behind an effort to put an initiative before state voters that would dramatically expand oil and gas setback distances. Yet that effort is also seeing high profile opposition with Colorado’s Democratic Governor, John Hickenlooper recently coming out strongly against the effort. CBS Denver reports that when asked where he stands on CREED’s initiative, Hickenlooper said:

“That would be considered a taking, and I think the state would probably be judged responsible, and I think the cost could be in the many billions of dollars. I think that’s a risk that most Coloradans — if it was laid out for them in a sense they could clearly understand — would not support it.” (Emphasis added)

While activists will surely press on with their ballot push, this latest defeat is only further evidence of just how out of touch their anti-energy agenda has become. But perhaps more importantly, the defeat shines even more light on how these groups have been positioning the concept of “local control” to advance a national agenda to completely shut down oil and gas development across Colorado and the rest of the country.

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