A ballot initiative that would have given communities the power to regulate local oil and gas operations was pulled Monday for a lack of supporting signatures, according to a report by the Denver Post Tuesday.
“Initiative 75 would have added the so-called Community Rights Amendment to the state constitution, but to get it on the ballot required 86,105 valid signatures — a rule of thumb is that 125,000 signatures need to be gathered to meet the requirement,” the Post report said.
If the amendment had made it to the ballot and passed, local communities would have obtained the power to ban almost any industrial activities that the community found objectionable. The state now has regulatory authority over oil and gas operations. Two other Colorado ballot initiatives are presently in the signature gathering stage. Initiative 88 would increase a setback for drill rigs to 2,000 feet from the current 500 feet. Initiative 89 would add an environmental bill of rights to the Colorado constitution.
Any significant changes to oil and gas regulations could cause operators to pull back on their level of operations in Colorado and thwart future energy investment in the state. The Colorado Department of Revenue reported it collected $136 million in oil and gas severance taxes in 2013, $163 million in 2012 and $138 million in 2011. A total of $273 million in oil and gas severance taxes were collected by Colorado in 2009 after natural gas prices had climbed to near record levels in 2008.
On July 16, 2014, Governor John Hickenlooper effectively ended his attempts to reach a compromise on Initiatives 88 and 89. He said, “Despite our best efforts and those of other willing partners, we have not been able to secure the broader stakeholder support necessary to pass bipartisan legislation in a special session.”
The failed attempt at reaching a bipartisan agreement leaves the two statewide ballot initiatives in the signature gathering stage. An official signature count has not been released.
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