Both Sides Agree to Fracking Debate Deal
Supporters of four ballot questions pertaining to oil and gas policy in Colorado have announced that they will be dropping their initiatives. Congressman Jared Polis made the announcement on Monday, making clear that he will be withdrawing financial support for measures #88 and #89 as a part of a deal with Governor John Hickenlooper. The two ballot measures would have increased regulations on drilling. Polis made the deal on the premise that two pro-drilling initiatives will be dropped as well.
After initial resistance, supporters of initiative #121 (a measure that would have prohibited oil and gas severance tax dollars from being sent to local governments that have instituted fracking bans) have announced that they will ditch their ballot question as well, as long as Polis follows through with his end of the deal.
Instead, Polis said he will support a newly negotiated plan to create an 18-person blue-ribbon task force made up of various stakeholders. The task force will make recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly aimed at reducing land use conflicts associated with the siting of oil and gas wells. The group will “provide an alternative to ballot initiatives that, if successful, would have regulated the oil and gas industry through the rigidity of constitutional amendments and posed a significant threat to Colorado’s economy,” said Hickenlooper, endorsing his deal with Polis.
The task force would include six members from the oil and gas, real estate and agriculture industries, six homeowners who have been affected by drilling in their neighborhoods, and six others who sources refer to as “statesmen”. It was also announced that Hickenlooper will ask the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to drop a lawsuit disputing the City of Longmont’s oil and gas regulation.
Click here to read more about the deal from the Denver Business Journal.