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Colorado's Anti-Fracking Initiative Dropped from November Ballot

Organizers for a statewide measure to allow cities to ban fracking admitted to having insufficient signatures for placement on the November ballot. They will try again for 2016. Organizers hope to qualify two other initiatives to restrict fracking.
July 20, 2014, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Colorado has been a hotbed of local voter initiatives to ban fracking, with five of six succeeding. So if any state was going to support a statewide voter initiative to enable cities to ban the practice, Colorado would seem a likely choice.

The organizer of Initiative 75, the grassroots anti-fracking measure, "announced Monday (July 14) that he has folded the statewide campaign after failing to collect enough signatures," writes Valerie Richardson for The Colorado Observer.

Initiative 75, the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, would have allowed localities to supersede state authority in order to ban corporate activity within their borders, including anti-drilling and anti-fracking laws.

The reason for the initiative stems from the inherent conflict between state law and local fracking bans. As we noted last November after three (and eventually four) local fracking bans passed in Front Range cities, "Gov. John Hickenlooper says he won’t tolerate cities and towns that ban oil and gas drilling within their borders and he promises to take them to court," according to a CBS4 report on Feb. 26."

However, Hickenlooper hoped to work with the legislature "to craft a compromise bill on local control of oil and gas drilling", according to Mark Jaffe of The Denver Post, but the governor abandoned the effort "and that there would be no special legislative session."

Colorado Community Rights Network vowed to return with an initiative in 2016, "with more money and better preparation," adds Richardson.

Jaffe writes on July 17 of two other initiatives, both opposed by Hickenlooper, that are "aimed at giving local governments more control over oil and gas drilling." Both are sponsored by Coloradans for Safe and Clean Energy and targeted for the November ballot.

  • Initiative 88 would mandate a 2,000-foot setback of drilling rigs from homes.
  • Initiative 89 would add an environmental bill of rights to the state constitution and give local governments the power to enforce it.

It is far from certain that the measures will qualify. Deadline is August 4.

Elsewhere, fracking opponents already have the right to ban fracking on a local level, most recent being in New York with the landmark ruling by the New York Court of Appeals.

In California, KQED's science reporter, Lauren Sommer, writes of the efforts of fracking opponents to place bans on county ballots, the most recent being the San Benito County Fracking Ban Initiative that qualified for the November ballot.

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Published on Monday, July 14, 2014 in The Colorado Observer
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