Reaction To Hickenlooper Oil And Gas Compromise Mixed
At a hastily organized news conference, Gov. John Hickenlooper called on all groups promoting oil and gas ballot issues to drop their proposals. To solve Colorado’s growing conflicts between development and land use, Hickenlooper proposed an 18-person blue ribbon commission composed of residents, local officials, oil and gas industry representatives as well as “respected Coloradans.”
“I suspect they will have bipartisan support. And the legislature will look at them, read them, I suspect improve them,” said Hickenlooper.
The move was praised by Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, who said he’s calling on Coloradans for Safe and Clean Energy — a group he supports — to drop its two ballot proposals.
“I believe this is a great deal for homeowners and families across Colorado and lays the groundwork for providing additional stability for the oil and gas industry in our state,” said Polis.
But other environmentalists were far from positive about the proposed compromise. Food & Water Watch sent out a press release with critical statements from groups in Longmont, Fort Collins and Broomfield that promoted bans or moratoriums in those communities.
“This deal does nothing for the Broomfield residents who voted last November to get more information on the health and property impacts of fracking. It will not protect us. We are severely disappointed that politics are being played with families and our lives,” said Laura Fronckiewicz with Our Broomfield.
Hickenlooper also called on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to drop its lawsuit against Longmont. The COGCC sued Longmont in July 2012 saying that oil and gas measures passed by the city trespassed on state authority. Longmont was ensnarled in a second lawsuit with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association over a voter-approved ban on fracking. A district court judge struck down that ban July 24.
While COGA praised Hickenlooper’s compromise, President and CEO Tisha Schuller said the group will not drop its lawsuits against Lafayette and Fort Collins.
“COGA won its lawsuit in Longmont and we believe that sets an important precedent that these bans are illegal in Colorado and not appropriate,” said Schuller. So we will continue.”
Meantime, it wasn’t immediately clear whether backers of the two measures supportive of the industry were behind Hickenlooper’s plan.
Republican Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg told The Denver Post before Hickenlooper’s news conference “For the moment, we are going ahead.”
Update 8.5.2014 - Representative Frank McNulty has suspended the campaign behind Initiative 121. In a news release [.pdf] both he and Representative Jerry Sonnenberg said they would withdraw the initiative "on news that Polis was no longer moving forward" with his initiatives.
"It’s now up to Polis to make good on his promise to end his economic brinkmanship, as he promised he would earlier today,” McNulty said in the same release.