Initiatives 88 and 89 have been officially withdrawn, Governor John Hickenlooper announced at the Colorado state capitol on August 4, 2014. Representative Jared Polis, the leader of the initiatives, reached a compromise with the governor earlier on the Aug. 4 deadline to submit signatures associated with the ballot measures.
The initiatives had reportedly collected more than 200,000 signatures and Polis had staunchly backed the measures both publicly and privately. A total of 86,105 signatures are needed on each measure in order to reach the ballot. However, experts predicted approximately 125,000 signatures are necessary in order to account for invalid signatures, the Denver Post said.
Polis’ Democratic peers worried the measures may lead to a greater Republican turnout in the fall, and Colorado has several critical, closely contested election races on the horizon.
Initiative 88 would have increased the setback for new oil and gas wells to 2,000 from the current state-mandated 500 feet, and Initiative 89 would have added an environmental bill of rights to the Colorado Constitution and granted local governments the power to enact environmental regulations more restrictive than state laws.
Click here for an OAG360 featured two-part series on the initiatives and their potential effects on the Colorado oil and gas industry.
A special session was not and will not be called to determine the drop, but next year, a blue-ribbon panel consisting of 18 people will be chosen from local community representatives, local government officials, and the oil and gas industry to recommend bills during the legislative session.
In turn, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission will withdraw its lawsuit against the city of Longmont for industry regulations enacted two years ago. Hickenlooper has promised to enforce the optional 1,000 foot set-back on Longmont oil and gas wells more regularly. Polis and Hickenlooper have both asked that pro-industry initiatives 121 and 137 be pulled, but both are currently still active. Initiative 121 would make regions that ban hydraulic fracturing ineligible for the tax money generated from the wells and initiative 137 would require ballot measures to include fiscal impact statements.
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