WCC gathers signatures for oil & gas initiatives

by Frank Smith, WCC Director of Organizing

Coloradans could get the chance to vote on two or more ballot initiatives this fall related to oil & gas development.

If enough signatures are collected by early August, Colorado voters will decide the fate of an environmental bill of rights as well as proposed 2,000 foot buffer zones between oil & gas development and homes.

Western Colorado Congress (WCC) supports ballot initiatives 88 & 89. Number 88 would increase oil & gas “setbacks” to 2,000 feet from homes and other occupied structures. Number 89 would write into the state constitution a resident’s right to clean air, pure water and natural or scenic values.

This summer, WCC teamed up with Coloradans for Safe & Clean Energy to collect signatures while sharing stories from the West Slope oil & gas patch.

Proposed initiatives are required to have 86,500 verified petition signatures to make it on to the November ballot. That’s a tall, but possible order; WCC members across the Western Slope—from Steamboat to the San Juans—are asking registered voters to act. And, there are other organizations collecting signatures on the Front Range, such as Weld Air & Water.

After signatures are collected, and verified by the Secretary of State, we’ll transition into making sure folks have their voice heard on these two sensible measures. WCC’s excited to work with groups like Hispanic Affairs Project and other Western Slope folks to encourage a diversity of turnout on Election Day, November 4.

The state-wide ballot initiative efforts come after a failed negotiation and attempt to convene a “Special Legislative Session.” WCC was supportive of a legislative session, if it led to meaningful health protections while preserving current local government ability to regulate industry. Negotiated language was never introduced into a special session, however.

In 2013, WCC worked to increase setbacks from 150 to 500 feet from homes, schools other occupied structures. While an improvement, 500 feet still isn’t far enough to really protect people’s health, safety or welfare. Stand with us in support of 2,000 foot buffer zones around fracking, and an environmental bill of rights.

To learn more, contact Frank at (970) 256-7650 in Grand Junction.

# 88 Ballot Language

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a statewide setback requirement for new oil and gas wells, and, in connection therewith, changing existing setback requirements to require any new oil or gas well to be located at least 2,000 feet from the nearest occupied structure; and authorizing a landowner to waive the setback requirement for any structure located on the owner’s property?

# 89 Ballot Language

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a public right to Colorado’s environment, and, in connection therewith, declaring that Colorado’s environment is the common property of all Coloradans; specifying that the environment includes clean air, pure water, and natural and scenic values and that state and local governments are trustees of this resource; requiring state and local governments to conserve the environment; and declaring that if state or local laws conflict the more restrictive law or regulation governs?


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