Mountain States

Rep. Polis Revisits Backing “Radical” and “Extreme Measures that Would Drive Oil and Gas Out of Colorado”

National activist organizations backing a slate of ballot initiatives to ban fracking in Colorado may be rekindling a partnership with an old ally. Millionaire Boulder Congressman Jared Polis, D-Colo. hinted this week that he may throw substantial financial support behind one or more of the initiatives activists are pushing to ban fracking.

Back in 2014, Polis had been advocating for a pair of statewide initiatives but he eventually pulled his support for them after Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) described them as “radical” and “extreme measures that would drive oil and gas out of Colorado.” In fact, Gov. Hickenlooper joined with a bipartisan coalition – including a huge swath of Colorado’s business community – to oppose those measures. The coalition was so broad and deep – reflecting the tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local tax revenues supported by the oil and gas industry in Colorado – Polis ended up backing away from his support of those measures in exchange for creating the oil and gas task force that would craft recommendations.

Now, on the heels of a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) rulemaking on those recommendations, Polis hinted to the Denver Post, that he may revisit his support of those initiatives. As the Denver Post reports:

“The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has “failed” to protect homeowners and communities from the impacts of drilling, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis said late Tuesday, leaving the door open to his throwing his support behind another citizen-initiated ballot measure this fall.”

Should Polis choose to support an anti-energy ballot initiative, he will have options. To date, a group with close ties to Food & Water Watch and the Sierra Club, Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED) has put forward 11 proposals ranging from an outright ban on fracking to a series of new setback requirements that could cost billions in state GDP and result in thousands of job losses. Another camp, backed by the national group, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) that fosters an extreme position on bankrupting communities, is also mounting a campaign to ban shale development in the state.

And as the Denver Post reports, Polis indicated where he is likely to throw his support should he decide to back the campaign:

“I think that setbacks and giving communities a legitimate say on what kind of industrial activity is appropriate in backyards and schoolyards are reasonable solutions that ought to be considered,” Polis said in a statement. “I’m hopeful that all stakeholders can coalesce around a thoughtful plan.”

But Polis isn’t likely to have much support from prominent members of his own party. And that should tell the citizens of Colorado something about the fringe ideology fueling the anti-energy campaigns that Polis could once again be wading into.


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