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Setbacks…Set Back Energy Production

This blog is from the Energy Councils of Weld County

Study: Initiative 78 eliminates 85% of Weld County land for oil and gas development

June 1, 2016

Colorado residents must be prepared to pay higher energy prices and wave goodbye to over a hundred thousand jobs.  That would be the case should the proposed ballot initiative 78 be approved by Colorado voters this November.

A recent study by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) analyzed the impact of the proposed 2,500 foot buffer (also called a setback) between new oil and gas wells and occupied buildings or “areas of special concern.”  The study found that the buffer would eliminate 90 percent of land statewide, 95 percent of land in the state’s five largest oil-producing counties, and 85 percent in Weld County alone.

The map below is taken from DNR’s study.  The areas in blue show the land eliminated by the proposed setback from occupied structures, and the areas in orange show the same for “areas of special concern.”  The white areas are the only remaining areas where oil and gas development could take place.

Initiative 78 CO map

Taken from the same study, here is a similar map zoomed-in on Weld County.  Nearly 2.2 million acres within the county would be off-limits to oil and gas development.

This proposed initiative comes just months after new rules were put in place by a 21 member task force of industry representatives, environmental representatives and local government officials that further limit the proximity of oil and gas wells to occupied structures.  This proposal does not only include occupied structures, however.  It also includes “areas of special concern,” which are things like lakes, creeks, parks, and even temporary streams.

As we’ve been saying for months, INITIATIVE 78 IS A DE FACTO BAN ON OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT.  That is exactly what the group supporting the measure intended.  In fact, of the 12 measures the group originally filed, among them was an outright ban on oil and gas development in Colorado.  Polling showed that a ban was unpopular with Colorado voters, so instead they pulled that measure and disguised the ban as a buffer zone.

The supporters of Initiative 78 must gather over 98,000 valid signatures by August 3 in order to make the ballot, and they have hired a professional firm to collect signatures for them.  The Energy Councils of East and West Weld urge you not to sign a petition for this initiative, as well as initiatives 75 and 40, which also seek to drastically scale-back oil and gas development in Colorado.