Nov. 13–The Colorado oil and gas industry dropped more than $30 million over the past year to convince voters they were responsible stewards of our land and that banning hydraulic fracturing would cause more harm than good.
One day after defeating Proposition 112 by more than 200,000 votes, the industry tossed all of that expensive good will in the trash with a proposal from one operator to drill under Standley Lake and nearby open space in Westminster.
Even if you’ve seen the statistics that show ground water contamination from fracking is practically non-existent and spills that impact surface water are relatively rare, the proposal from Highlands Natural Resources Corp. likely got your goat.
And here’s why.
Proposition 112 was easy to oppose because although it was billed as reasonable setbacks for heavy industry from occupied structures, the language of the ballot proposal would actually have been an effective ban on future drilling, especially along the Front Range.
No need to ban the industry, we argued in an editorial urging voters to say no, because the industry is actually working well with communities to come to good-faith compromises for responsible development that is safe and less intrusive.
But that position is getting increasingly difficult to defend.
Instead of working with the community in Westminster, this proposal was dropped upon them with a “we know you can’t say ‘no’ ” mentality. We’ve seen that before.
Boulder County has filed suit against Crestone Peak Resources for a proposal to — get this — put well pads on land that the county, using taxpayer dollars, has set aside for conservation. We don’t care how small the footprint of the well heads are — oil and gas extraction is not compatible with land that is in a conservation easement.
And the proposal near Standley Lake was just as bad. Thankfully Highlands Natural Resources withdrew the proposal after a public outcry last week.
The industry can do better. We know because in counties that have heavy oil and gas activity voters turned out in droves to reject the proposal. If an industry was threatening the health, safety and public lands in Weld County, 75 percent of the voters wouldn’t have said no to Prop. 112. In other counties that are located over the Denver-Julesburg Basin, the opposition to 112 was as high as 88 percent.
We still vehemently oppose banning fracking in Colorado.
But we’re also glad Democrats have won control of the House, Senate and governors office. They are likely to consider further restrictions on the industry. We hope they show restraint that recognizes the important role this industry plays in our economy and in powering our homes, while simultaneously recognizing in many regards current law favors the industry at the expense of Colorado residents.
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