Stand Up for Industry, Stand Up for Colorado

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Stand Up for Industry, Stand Up for Colorado
Dan Haley, President & CEO, Colorado Oil & Gas Association

As you know, activists are currently gathering signatures in Colorado to potentially put two anti-oil and gas initiatives on this fall’s ballot. The initiatives, if passed, would be devastating to our industry and our state.

But there’s something you can do about it: Decline to sign. Tell your friends and family not to sign the petitions. And tell your social media networks that you’ve declined to sign and ask them to do the same.

Spread the word. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. We need to stand up for our industry, for our jobs and families, and for our state and its economy. Too much is at stake.

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The mere act of collecting signatures creates problems for our industry because it makes for an uncertain business and regulatory environment. (As if global commodity markets weren’t uncertain enough!) But if just one of these initiatives were to pass, it would be devastating for oil and natural gas development in Colorado.

Consider this:

Initiative No. 75 would transfer the authority to regulate oil and natural gas development from the state to local governments. Activists paint this as “local control.” It’s hardly local control. In fact, local governments could only enact laws, including bans on oil and gas development, that exceed the state’s already rigorous laws.
Why would this be so harmful?

  • It would create a patchwork of regulations for oil and natural gas across the state, making it extremely difficult to do business in Colorado. It would also send a message that Colorado is no longer open for business, which would reverberate throughout the economy.
  • It would create a tangled web of lawsuits if local governments take private property – that is, remove the ability for owners to access their mineral rights – without compensating those property owners.
  • We have more than 600,000 mineral rights owners in Colorado. In 2012, private landowners in Colorado collected about $614 million in mineral royalties. That money, many times, kept the family farm or ranch in business.
  • Your local taxes could go up. If a municipality were to take on the complex structure needed to regulate an industry as large, diverse and complicated as oil and gas — basically creating municipal versions of the bureaucracy that already exists at the state level – it would have to increase staff and resources.

Initiative No. 78 would establish a 2,500-foot setback from oil and gas facilities – not just the wellhead – and occupied structures and/or areas of “special concern.” Those areas of special concern include drinking water sources, lakes, rivers, perennial or intermittent streams, creeks, irrigation canals, riparian areas, playgrounds, permanent sports fields, amphitheaters, public parks and public open space. Whew. An exhaustive list. But there’s more.

Should a local government choose, they could even extend the setback length beyond 2,500 feet and add additional areas to the category of “special concern.”

For some, a 2,500-foot setback may sound fairly reasonable. But let’s be clear: It’s a ban on oil and gas and would cost thousands of good-paying Colorado jobs, eliminate millions in state and local taxes, and likely raise energy prices if approved.

What else would it do?

  • It strips away the rights of property owners and homeowners to do what they wish with their land. Homeowners would not be able waive the required setback distance for their own home. For example, some farmers would rather have a well closer to their home, so they can have more contiguous property for farming and irrigation.
  • The government could take property, including mineral rights, without compensating the owner. This could lead to years of expensive litigation and cost local taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. It would create legal nightmares.
  • The State of Colorado has released an analysis showing that the setbacks would essentially eliminate oil and natural gas development in Colorado. For example:
    • 90% of surface acreage in Colorado would be unavailable for future oil and gas development or hydraulic fracturing under the proposed mandatory setback requirement.
    • 85% of surface acreage in Weld County, the state’s largest oil and gas producing county, would be unavailable for new oil and gas development facilities or hydraulic fracturing operations.
    • 95% of the total surface area would be unavailable for new oil and gas development facilities or hydraulic fracturing operations in the state’s top 5 producing oil and gas counties (Weld, Garfield, La Plata, Rio Blanco, and Las Animas).

These measures are too extreme for Colorado. They seek to eliminate an industry that helps provide for more than 100,000 jobs in our state. They would eliminate the $1.1 billion in local and state taxes that is used to help pay for schools and parks and libraries. And they would shred the private property rights of hundreds of thousands of mineral owners.

This is not how we do business in this state. It’s not the Colorado way.

The responsible development of our oil and gas resources can be a complex matter. The political and policy discussions surrounding it are best left to the halls of the Colorado statehouse and city council chambers and county commission hearing rooms across the state, and not the ballot box.

So spread the word. Share this blog. Talk on social media. Tell your friends and families.
To stop these divisive stunts and to move forward, we need to first stand up for our industry, stand up for Colorado and decline to sign the petitions.

For more information about the initiatives and how you can get involved, go to protectcolorado.com.