Colorado Oil and Gas Activists Hopeful, Despite Ballot Defeat

Voters in Colorado may have given the state its best opportunity in decades to take on an entrenched oil and gas industry.

Written by Emily Hornback, Staff Director Western Colorado Alliance.

Proposition 112, an initiative to move new oil and gas facilities 2,500 feet away from homes, schools, streams and other sensitive areas, failed in November’s statewide ballot box by 55% to 45%.

Although disappointing, we aren’t going to let this defeat slow us down in our work to protect landowner rights, air and water quality, and public health from the impacts of oil and gas development. We see a hard-won opportunity to achieve big reforms on oil and gas as soon as the 2019 legislative session.

We see a hard-won opportunity to achieve big reforms on oil and gas as soon as the 2019 legislative session.

Despite the defeat of Proposition 112, we celebrated the election of a pro-conservation majority to the state legislature, to the governor’s office and in other key positions across the state. As the new leadership is sworn-in in January, we will also have new appointments to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the Colorado Department of Health, the Air Quality Control Commission and other state agencies tasked with regulating the oil and gas industry.

For years, these agencies have been a dead end for impacted residents looking for relief from industrial oil and gas development. We are confident that in 2019 we will have significantly different agencies to work with.

We are also awaiting the ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court case Martinez v. COGCC, which could transform the way the COGCC does business, forcing it to prioritize human health and the environment in permitting decisions.

Don’t get us wrong.  

We are under no illusion that new elected officials and appointees will simply rein in the oil and gas industry. The industry wields incredible power in our state and any decision maker is vulnerable to their influence. Change will only happen if we continue to organize for reform and hold our elected officials accountable, regardless of their political party.

Millions of people across this state believe in the need to protect public health and safety, despite the misleading campaign ads paid for by industry.

One thing the effort around Proposition 112 did make clear is that millions of people across this state believe in the need to protect public health and safety, despite the misleading campaign ads paid for by industry.

And if impacted residents around the state bring the issue to the ballot again, we will be there ready to knock on doors and make calls. We will keep working on every front to build the healthy, just, and self-reliant Western Colorado we envision.


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