Ballot-mania

This election year be prepared for a number of ballot initiatives that voters will decide. The list ranges from single-payer health care, restructuring redistricting process, proposals to modify process for constitutional amendments. But no area or topic is the focus of attention like energy development and oil and gas production.

Each proposal takes a different approach, but the aim is the same: to stymie, if not eliminate oil and gas development in Colorado. The impacts are significant for property rights, economic development and revenues to local communities for infrastructure projects. It is important to understand that these are constitutional amendments. If passed they would require enabling legislation, and will spur numerous lawsuits in the short-term or long term as many unexpected consequences arise. Here are the details…

Four ballot initiatives are being proposed that would harm personal property rights, and responsible energy development in Colorado. These deal with

  • “The Right of a Health Environment”
  • “2,500 Setback for Energy Production”
  • “Local Control of Energy Development” and
  • “Community Rights Initiative”

 Each of these on the surface can sound reasonable and like they have some merit, but when you look beneath the surface you discover something different….

These extreme proposals are completely out-of-step with the majority of Coloradans who support responsible oil and natural gas development

  • We have the some of the strictest regulations in the country because Coloradans expect their elected leaders, environmentalists and industry representatives to come together to find solutions.
  • These proposals were submitted only weeks before new rules giving local governments more input in oil and natural gas development are expected to be unveiled. After a year-long, exhaustive and deliberative process, that included hundreds of hours of public input, a bipartisan and diverse task force strengthened the state’s regulations, which were already considered a model for the nation. We should respect the process and implement the recommendations.
  • These measures so radical they would strip away private property rights and allow the government to take private property without compensating the owners.
  •  The initiatives would create a patchwork of regulations for oil and natural gas development across the state. This would result in inconsistent enforcement across the state that leaves the public unprotected and labels Colorado as hostile to business.
  • The measures would kill jobs and devastate Colorado’s economy, impacting families across the state.
  • Recent global events have shown once again how important it is that the United States obtain energy security.

 Setbacks

  • These ballot initiatives give government the right to tell private property owners what they can and cannot do with their own property.
  • They allow the government through regulations to take property, including mineral rights, without compensating the owner. This could lead to years of expensive litigation and cost local taxpayers as much as $500,000 per acre in takings claims.
  • Farmers and ranchers might be forced to put oil and gas operations in unwanted areas such as the middle of their fields and pastures, instead of negotiating desired placement. This could create interference with irrigation, planting, harvesting and grazing and negatively impact food production.
  • Homeowners cannot waive the required setback distance for their own home. This unjustly interferes with a homeowner doing what they wish with their own land.
  • These rules would push the industry out of Colorado, put people out of work or force them to move out of state while increasing energy costs for Coloradans and decreasing local tax revenues.

Local Control

  • Colorado already has some of the toughest environmental regulations in the country and is looked at as a model for the nation.
  • The measures strip authority from the state and federal government. Localities lack the technical expertise and resources to develop and enforce these rules.
  • Different rules would create a patchwork of regulations for oil and natural gas development across the state. This would result in inconsistent enforcement across the state that leaves the public unprotected and labels Colorado as hostile to business.
  • These measures open up local and state government to thousands of lawsuits, which would cost taxpayers millions of dollars to defend.