Colorado Activists Are Arguing For Greater Control Over Oil and Gas Industry Through New Amendment

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A failed 2014 amendment in Colorado may be given a second chance this summer, with a resurrected proposal that could give local governments greater control over industry regulations, primarily within the oil and gas industry, and setting the minimum wage.

The amendment was submitted on Monday, August 17, according to the Denver Business Journal, and was promoted by the activist group Coloradans for Community Rights. If the volunteer group is able to collect enough signatures — the goal is around 100,000, but the group is hoping to collect as many as 125,000 — it could appear on the state’s 2016 ballot.

A similar proposal was presented in 2014, the Denver Post reported, but activists stopped promoting the bill because they didn’t think it would gain enough support to reach the goal of 86,105 signatures by the August 3, 2014 deadline.

This year, things are a little bit different.

Because of so many environmental concerns throughout the West Coast, including many problems caused by oil and gas companies who have overlooked safety regulations, residents are starting to see the benefits of taking some control away from corporations and giving it to local governments instead.

Even though Colorado is filled with valuable raw materials, just one mistake by one oil and gas company is enough to destroy entire ecosystems. Widespread flooding in 2013, for example, revealed that the state’s oil industry wasn’t prepared for natural disasters. Over 48,000 gallons of oil was spilled during that period, highlighting the lack of safety protocols in the face of an unpredictable disaster.

More recently, emergency crews in the city of Durango and La Plata County have been cleaning up an estimated one million gallons of waste water, which spilled out from an abandoned mine in the southern part of Colorado on August 5. The waste was so toxic that it actually turned the Animas River an orange color, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a state of emergency, according to CNN. It has urged residents not to drink or use the water, which contains high levels of waste metals including iron, zinc, and copper.

With the newest proposal, Coloradans expect to receive a great deal of support from wealthy investors and activists throughout the West Coast. However, some local authorities are expecting the measure to fail yet again because it technically could allow local governments to restrict, and even prohibit, certain businesses and entire industries from operating in Colorado.

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