Subject: Hickenlooper, Polis announce compromise on oil, gas local control in Colorado
Date: Tue Aug 05 14:17:07 MDT 2014
Dear EPSC Members,
I wanted to share an article with you from the Denver Post regarding a compromise reached with Colorado Governor Hickenlooper and Congressman Polis to withdraw the high-profile, statewide ballot initiatives he has been sponsoring for greater local control over hydraulic fracturing.
Hickenlooper, Polis announce compromise on oil, gas local control in Colorado
Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, Monday morning announced the formation of a task force to craft regulations to minimize conflicts over the siting of oil and gas facilities in Colorado.
In a joint press conference, Hickenlooper called "on everyone to pull down four ballot initiatives on this topic."
Under the proposal, two initiatives aimed at tightening controls would be withdrawn and two so-called pro-industry initiatives also would be pulled back.
In their place a commission would be formed to review oil and gas drilling in the state and make recommendations to the legislature. The group is to be chaired by La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt and XTO Energy President Randy Cleveland. Polis said the group will have 18 members — six residents and local officials, six people from industry, including oil and gas, homebuilders and agriculture, and six "respected Coloradans."
"This may be the template for what happens in the rest of the country," Hickenlooper said, noting similar conflicts are roiling in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania. "This is the way we do things in Colorado. We work through our differences and difficulties. Maybe no one is perfectly happy, but it serves all parties."
Hickenlooper tried to broker a legislative compromise but that effort collapsed in July.
The local control ballot measures are backed by Polis. He said he is calling on the campaign committee to withdraw the measures.
"Today represents real progress," Polis said. The proposed compromise, he said, "places citizens directly at the negotiating table on equal footing with the oil and gas industry, directly negotiating to protect their property rights, clean air and water quality."
The pro-industry initiatives are sponsored by Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling.
"The first I heard about this was from the governor yesterday afternoon," McNulty said Monday, before the press conference. "We are certainly open to a conversation, with the governor and Congressman Polis.
"If there is a real bipartisan agreement something might be worked out," McNulty said, "but we aren't interested in some window dressing for Polis."
McNulty and Sonnenberg sponsored Initiative 121, which would withhold state oil and gas revenues from communities that limit oil and gas development.
Petitions with 134,000 signatures supporting the Initiative 121 were turned into the Colorado Secretary of State Monday morning.
A total of 86,105 valid signatures are needed to get the measure on the ballot. "For the moment we are going ahead," Sonnenberg said Monday, before the press conference.
The other industry-backed measure, Initiative 137, would require all ballot initiatives to have a fiscal impact estimate and signatures for it were filed Friday.
The two measures backed by Polis are Initiative 88, which would mandate that drilling rigs be at least 2,000 feet from a home, and Initiative 89, which would add an environmental bill of rights to the state constitution.
Among the other proposals considered in the compromise is that the state would drop its lawsuit against the City of Longmont over its oil and gas ordinance.
The ordinance includes a ban on drilling in residential areas and the state sued in 2102 contending that the city had overstepped its authority in regulating drilling.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission would also immediately begin more rigorous enforcement of setback requirements.
Under the current rules the minimum setback is 500 feet, but the regulation also states the drilling rig should located "as far as possible from building units."