Colorado gas and oil companies may be facing a completely new challenge with an upcoming statewide ballot. Proposition 112, which residents will vote on in November, would increase the setback for new wells to 2,500 feet away from schools, homes, and even other public places like playgrounds.
Supporters of the ballot argue that the new measure would help further protect the public health of Colorado residents — there would be more safety and control between communities and local fracking sites. But opposers of the ballot say that the measure would only put people out of jobs and ruin Colorado’s economy.
The measure began when northeastern Colorado towns expressed frustrations with not only increased drilling, but with what they view as insufficient regulations. Colorado Rising is the group behind the measure and the members see the setbacks as simply common sense.
Anne Lee Foster, a member of Colorado Rising, explained, “We are protecting homes, schools, playgrounds and water sources from industrial oil and gas development… Being this close to a site you’re breathing in volatile organic compounds like benzene, which is known to be cancer causing.”
Opponents of the measure say that the ballot is not about health and safety, but that it will instead put hundreds of thousands of people out of work over the next several years. So similarly to the 14 million U.S. small businesses who have invested time and money in SEO to better their companies, the gas and oil industry is spending big money on radio and television advertisements to gain support against the measure.
There is so much controversy over this measure, particularly with the releasing of two recent studies. One study was done by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which is the state agency in charge of regulating the oil and gas industry. The agency found that under Prop 112, 85% of non-federal land would not be available for new drilling, meaning serious trouble for new oil and gas development.
The second study was done by Peter Maniloff, an assistant professor at the Colorado School of Mines Payne Institute, focused on the new technology the industry is using to utilize new techniques to drill from one location for up to four miles. This report showed that with operators being able to drill up to one mile from any location, only 58% of non-federal lands would be off-limits.
There are a lot of important bills and regulations in the U.S. that are essential in today’s society, like the Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, which helps regulate reproduced currency. But new regulations like Proposition 112 are often controversial and require mass amounts of research, debates, and important decision-making.
So while this upcoming election will have several important matters for voters to consider, there seems to be a lot at stake when looking at Proposition 112 and the outcome could be a turning point for Colorado’s oil and gas industry.