Colorado appears to be caving in on local land use control of fracking. If there is no local control over fracking, anybody can get fracked. Step One in the Fracker’s playbook is to disarm local communities, because that is the last defense against getting fracked. Fracking regulations are strongest at the local level and weakest at the national level:
1. The Feds do not regulate fracking because of the Halliburton Loophole
2. States do not adequately regulate fracking because state agencies are revolving doors to the industry. Once fracking begins in a state, the frackers can effectively buy control of the regulators.
3. That leaves municipalities alone to protect people, live stock and the environment via local land use ordinances.
4. Without #3, local control, see #1 and #2 above, citizens are at the mercy of non-existent or loosely enforced state and federal regulations that have been authored by the frackers.
That is why the frackers are so afraid of local control – it’s the one government act they cannot easily buy off. So any compromise that does not include the right to Local Control is a cave-in. Unilateral disarmament of towns and cities. Full stop.
Compromise Keeps Fracking Control Measures off Colorado Ballot
- Aug 5:
- Six petitions seeking Colorado ballot measures submitted by deadline
- Jul 25:
- “Flat Earth” fracking ad on “radical activists” insults some voters
- Jul 24:
- Backers say they’ve crossed threshold on oil, gas drilling measures
- Jul 16:
- Hickenlooper abandons effort for oil and gas legislative compromise
- Jul 14:
- Community rights ballot measure pulled due to lack of signatures
- Jul 8:
- Beauprez: Special session for local-control compromise “ill advised”
- Oil and gas battle lines drawn for November Colorado ballot
- Jul 2:
- 17 Colorado homebuilders push for oil, gas local-control compromise
- Jun 30:
- Colorado high court OKs ballot measures seeking local control of drilling
- Jun 27:
- Hick: Chances of special session on oil, gas compromise less than 50%
- Jun 26:
- Big oil throws “strong support” to Hick’s local-control compromise
- Jun 18:
- Signature drive for local control oil and gas initiatives start in Colorado
- Jun 16:
- Colorado initiatives for local control of drilling OK’d for signatures
Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday unveiled a delicately balanced compromise on local control of oil and gas drilling that will remove all the initiatives on the issue from the November ballot.
The ballot battle was shaping up to be the most expensive campaign in the state’s history.
U.S. Rep Jared Polis, D-Boulder, agreed to drop two measures he supported aimed at requiring drilling rigs to be set back 2,000 feet from homes and bolstering local control by adding an environmental bill of rights to the state constitution.
Backers of two industry-supported measures — Initiative 121, which would have withheld state oil and gas revenue from communities banning drilling, and Initiative 137, which required a fiscal impact note for all initiatives — said they, too, would pull back.
“We are celebrating our victory and withdrawing 121,” said state Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, a co-sponsor of that initiative.
More than $10 million had already been raised for the initiative campaigns, and estimates were that more than $20 million would have been spent — mainly by the oil and gas industry. (The amount of money the frackers are willing to spend to disarm towns is indicative of how afraid they are of local control. The money is a barometer of how effective Local Control is.)
“It would have been scorched earth,” said Pat Hamill, president of Oakwood Homes and chairman of Colorado Concern, the group backing Initiative 137.
The papers have already been filed to withdraw the initiative, Hamill said.
Hickenlooper said he will appoint a commission to make recommendations to the legislature on ways “to minimize land-use conflicts that can occur when siting oil and gas facilities near homes, schools, businesses and recreational facilities.”
“For the first time, this puts citizens on an equal footing with industry,” Polis said in an interview. (Nonsense. That is what Local Control does)
University of Denver political science professor Peter Hanson said creating a commission was “a pretty smart move by the governor to lower the temperature on this issue and take it out of election-year politics.”
The compromise drew support from the state’s two largest operators, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Noble Energy Inc.
“We feel this is a win for Colorado,” said Brad Holly, Anadarko vice president of operations for the Rockies.
Added Noble Energy spokeswoman Paula Beasley: “Noble Energy supports the governor’s creation of a task force to avoid adverse ballot initiatives.”
Noble is Colorado’s largest producer.
Within minutes of the announced compromise, shares of the two Texas-based companies jumped 5 percent on the New York Stock Exchange.
The deal, however, drew criticism from grassroots groups opposed to drilling.
“You feel used,” said Therese Gilbert, a member of Weld Air and Water, who spent weeks collecting signatures for two ballot measures. “I don’t see that this protects anyone.” (It protects the frackers from getting their butts kicked at the ballot box.)
At a statehouse news conference Monday, Hickenlooper and Polis outlined the compromise.
The governor plans to create an 18-member task force, which will make recommendations to the legislature — by a two-thirds vote. It will be chaired by La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lacheltand XTO Energy president Randy Cleveland.
“Citizens have always been at a disadvantage on these issues, but will have a level playing field in this commission,” Lachelt said in an interview.
Under the compromise, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will also drop its lawsuit against the city of Longmont over its oil and gas ordinance.
The ordinance includes a ban on drilling in residential areas, and the state sued in 2102 contending that the city had overstepped its authority.
“The agreement recognizes Longmont’s process,” Polis said. (But does it recognize Home Rule ? And if so, will it clarify that in the state regulations ? )
Mike King, director of the state Department of Natural Resources and a member of the state oil and gas commission, said the group will vote on dropping the suit in the next 72 hours.
“There will be no heartburn over dropping the lawsuit,” King said. “The commission wasn’t enthusiastic about it.”
In another element of the compromise, the state will initiate a review of how its setback rule is implemented, King said.
The state’s minimum setback for a drilling rig is 500 feet, but the rule also states that multiple-well pads must be located “as far as possible” from buildings. (That would be Kansas)
The centerpiece of the deal, however, remains getting the four initiatives off the ballot. (Where the voters could decide)
“The governor showed great leadership in getting this done,” Colorado Concern’s Hamill said.
The campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who is challenging Hickenlooper in the fall, criticized the compromise.
“What happened is that this just creates more uncertainty” in the business community, Beauprez spokesman Allen Fuller said. (Meaning there goes Beauprez’s chances)
The deal, however, drew support from the American Petroleum Institute and the American Natural Gas Association, two national trade groups.
Hickenlooper had tried for months to broker a legislative compromise, but that effort collapsed in July.
“This may be the template for what happens in the rest of the country,” Hickenlooper said, noting similar conflicts are roiling in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania, where Home Rule has been upheld by the courts. “This is the way we do things in Colorado. We work through our differences and difficulties. Maybe no one is perfectly happy, but it serves all parties.” Actually it serves which ever party can write Hickenlooper the biggest check for his re-election. That’s what just happened here.
Polis said it was “better to address these issue in rule or by legislation, but if that doesn’t work, you’ve got to go to the ballot box.”