Colorado Anti-Energy Initiative Looms Large for State, Nation
Posted August 30, 2018
The map below makes clear just how much damage could be done to the United States’ fifth-leading natural gas and seventh-largest oil producing state by Colorado’s Initiative 97 – the anti-energy, anti-progress measure that state officials said will be on the November election ballot. Coloradoans and all Americans should be very concerned:
The map illustrates how the initiative’s requirement for 2,500-foot buffer zones around “occupied structures” (green) and “vulnerable areas” (yellow) would dramatically restrict natural gas and oil activity. Unshaded areas would be the only non-federal land (pink) available for new natural gas and oil surface development. Statewide, Initiative 97 would make 85 percent of non-federal land off-limits to natural gas and oil development, according to a report by the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).
Zeroing in on the state’s top five producing counties (outlined in blue) – Weld in the north on the border with Wyoming, Rio Blanco and Garfield on the western border with Utah, and La Plata and Las Animas on the southern border with New Mexico – the map shows that opportunity for new natural gas and oil development on non-federal land would be all but prohibited.
This is an alarming prospect for all Americans, because we’re talking about putting the brakes on one of the country’s leading and fastest-growing energy producers – of natural gas:
And crude oil:
Initiative 97 would be an energy killer and a job killer.
The COGCC report said the measure could stifle hundreds of thousands of Colorado jobs directly and indirectly supported by natural gas and oil – currently, nearly 233,000 jobs. Natural gas and oil contributes $31.4 billion in economic impact per year, including more than $1.2 billion in annual public revenue. Another study, by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable, estimates Colorado could lose 100,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in tax revenue by 2030. Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Tracee Bentley:
“While the opponents of this job-killing measure consider their options regarding today’s announcement, it bears repeating that this measure, if ultimately enacted, will define our state’s economy and job opportunities for generations to come. If passed, Initiative 97 could devastate the economic livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans, both in and out of the energy industry. Entire communities would involuntarily find themselves closed for business. Tax revenues would plummet, crippling essential funding for education and health care across the state. … Colorado voters should look at the facts and defeat this job-and-economy-killing proposal.”
Colorado Oil & Gas Association President and CEO Dan Haley:
“Coloradans need to know exactly what is at stake: private property rights, more than 100,000 good paying jobs, more than $1 billion in taxes for schools, parks and libraries, and our nation’s energy security. A half-mile setback is a blatant attempt by activists to ban oil and natural gas in Colorado and put working families on the unemployment line.”
Making the November ballot doesn’t mean this dangerous initiative will pass. As Simon Lomax of Vital for Colorado points out, state voters rejected anti-natural gas and oil measures in 2008, 2014 and 2016. Lomax writes:
You can already see a wall of opposition to Initiative 97, in fact. During this year’s primaries, every Democrat and every Republican running for governor shunned the proposed ballot measure … To be sure, Initiative 97 is an extreme measure with severe economic impacts. But that is why it’s so beatable, like all the others before it. Simply stated, energy producing states like Colorado … don’t vote against their own economies.
Again, this is a potentially devastating restriction that could have significant economic impacts on Colorado, as well as potential major impacts on national energy security. It should be defeated.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and six grandchildren.
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