Frackers Reel, Plot Revenge After Another Big Loss

As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports, another popular vote goes strongly against the oil and gas industry–this time in Broomfield, where voters overwhelmingly opted to give local authorities more power over regulate drilling, setting up yet another legal battle that the industry feels comfortable about winning but still spent almost $350,000 trying to avoid:

Voters on Tuesday passed a controversial ballot issue that gives Broomfield more local oversight of oil and gas operations in the city, a move that probably will invite a legal challenge from Colorado’s large energy sector.

According to a late-night vote tally in the mail-in election that accounts for most of the ballots cast in the city, the yes vote for Question 301 was comfortably ahead of the no vote by a margin of 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent.

As of late Tuesday night, nearly 42 percent of eligible electors in Broomfield — or 20,643 voters — cast a ballot.

What does the industry led by its PR front groups at Vital Colorado and Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) have to say after Broomfield voters turned out in big numbers to overwhelmingly pass Question 301?

Screw ’em:

“It is in violation of state law as upheld by the state Supreme Court,” said Don Beezley, a “No on 301” committee member. “The result will be Broomfield spending tens of thousands of dollars or more defending lawsuits, most likely from both the state of Colorado and the operators, with apparently 100 percent likelihood of losing said suits.”

Vital for Colorado, an advocacy group that has been active in supporting pro-business and pro-oil and gas candidates in the state, conceded defeat Tuesday night and said 301’s passage “will trigger lawsuits.”

It’s true that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that local regulations over oil and gas drilling are overruled by state law giving that power to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Local communities, especially suburban and exurban communities along the northern Front Range where drilling is encroaching on surface land uses (and vice versa), have felt obliged to pass additional regulations–even moratoria and bans while the the impact of drilling remains uncertain–if they believe the state rules don’t adequately protect their residents.

So why don’t drillers just go to court, instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight ballot measures they claim are illegal anyway? The answer is simple: they don’t want it proven that local communities are against them. Too many Longmonts and Broomfields take action only to see our industry-friendly state government ignore their pleas, and suddenly a statewide ballot measure to change the rules that let drillers walk on local communities becomes a viable prospect.

Which, by the way, it is.

Folks, we’ve been saying for years that the oil and gas industry’s arrogance is increasingly out of touch with the changing political realities in the state of Colorado. This is an industry that is in fact ripe for comeuppance, and has had its day of reckoning postponed in part by aggressively courting Democratic support as Democrats have solidified their control here. Some of those Democrats, like Gov. John Hickenlooper, have damaged their political standing by dissing their own base on the industry’s behalf.

After eight years of Hickenlooper’s uneasy status quo, this may be all about to change. The 2018 governor’s race is expected to focus on the future of energy policy in Colorado–and depending on the choices Democrats in particular make in their primary, it could be a much clearer-cut choice between the parties than we’ve seen since well before Colorado’s most famous oilman/brewer came on the scene.

Once again, the voters have signaled loud and clear what they’d do if the politicians got out of the way.

9 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ModeratusModeratus says:

    The rule of law. It's a bitch! Every election you'll get your chance, and you'll complain about the other side's free speech rights like hypocrites, and if the energy industry convinces the voters AGAIN that oil and gas deserves its place at the table, you'll complain about that too.

    Democrats only like the law when it serves you. When the law doesn't work for you, you riot.

    • unnamed says:

      You're just mad the citizens of Broomfield exercised their free speech last night and told the frackers to fuck themselves.  If you like free speech so much, why were you okay with an 11 year old boy getting kicked out of his cub scout den for asking questions of a Republican elected official?

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      Project much, Nutlid?  

      When something doesn't work or is no longer equitable we Democrats go to the ballot box and gather up a majority. That's how this pesky democratic process works, dumbass. 

      Not long ago we recognized Prohibition as unjust and went to the ballot box and changed state law, even though we're operating in defiance of federal law – and even though the previous three Governors made a commercial warning us this was a bad idea.  Now that we've exercised our democratic voice, a tsunami big enough to roll over even that big ol' elephant masquerading as a New Jersey governor has appeared from sea-to-shining-sea.  But that hasn't kept you from squealing like a baby pig that's just lost his future as a boar stud.

      Your big tent could be on the precipice of electing a Republican gubernatorial candidate that happens to agree with 2/3 of Colorado on this issue.  It will give us all great pleasure to watch you contort yourself into a pretzel over the next 12 months.  

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      Oh, Fluffy….what a pity. You have hitched your wagon to an industry destined for oblivion. 

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        You do realize that Moderatus represents the epitome of 1950's thinking?  (i.e., big, fuel-inefficient automobiles, survivable nuclear war, June Cleaver moms, white bread, the John Birch Society, segregated water fountains)

  2. Genghis says:

    The oil and gas industry would dry up and blow away within a decade or two without the Big Pharma-level corporate welfare it receives. That corporate welfare isn't going anywhere anytime soon at the federal level – exportation of American oil and natural gas  is the central component of the Trump administration "energy plan," if you can call it that – but it's good to see progress like this at the local level.

    And in a way, it's almost comforting to see that Don Beezley – Broomfield County's favorite sociopath – remains a lying sack of shit and entrails. Consistency matters.

  3. ParkHill says:

    A man's reach should exceed his grasp…

    The O&G industry has had pretty good success buying off the decision makers, which has lead to a weakening of State and Federal environmental and renewable regulation. That success is going to backfire in just a few years as the pendulum swings back. They would have been smarter asking for moderate regulation, because what they're going to get is much more stringent regulation.

    People don't like pollution, and Trump will be gone in 3 years. The big Federal agencies can be put back to work on our side instead of on the side of the plutocrats.

    So the best revenge is that we have it within OUR grasp to speed up the collapse of the Carbon industry. Economics already favor renewables and the collapse of Oil & Coal.

    At the State level we can make some changes. And, when the electoral pendulum swings back our way at the Federal level, we can give things a big push without even being very radical nor anti-Capitalist: 
     – Increase the Carbon Tax
     – Increase the extraction tax and use it to fund renewables
     – Increase the gasoline tax
     – Make utility Renewable Standards more stringent
     – Increase subsidies for electric vehicles and build out the infrastructure faster.

  4. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    A hearty congratulations to #TeamBoulder for their victory on the city municipalization vote.  The women who spearhead this effort are second-to-none in their dedication to local control of their electric grid.  

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