Don’t Believe Industry and Enablers’ Lies: Local Control is About Local Control

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

So here is a question for people that ought to know better: What do Colorado’s “Local Control” Initiatives Set Out to Do?

It is not surprising, I suppose, that the oil and gas industry–faced with having to explain why allowing a local town the authority to create a larger set back than the standard imposed statewide, based on its particular circumstances, for industrial activity like oil and gas drilling, fracking, and development must be stopped–would resort to telling lies.  It is, however, disappointing when big name Colorado politicians and so-called civic leaders jump on the Bullfeathers Bandwagon

Kelly Brough, of the Metro Chamber of Commerce went so far as to call set-backs (requiring that oil and gas operations be located a certain distance from occupied buildings, for instance) a statewide fracking ban.  

“Whether it’s framed as local control or setbacks, the real intention of filing these is to create a ban on fracking in Colorado." 

This is so transparently dishonest it ought to be embarrassing.  The various local control and other oil and gas regulatory initiatives do not set out to impose a state wide fracking ban.  This is the case regardless of ‘fracktivist’ support behind the initiatives, inartful comments by organizers and proponents, or the typical agitprop BS from the scaremongers in industry.  

Language on ballots matters, and in this case—even in the case of the most broad ‘community rights’ measure—the language asserts local control.  Simply put, the measures would allow for various levels of local jurisdictional regulation over oil and gas development, including (but not limited to) fracking, within their jurisdiction.  Like many ballot efforts, organizers set out to craft a proposal that could win broad, statewide support.  That means that those favoring "fracking bans" and those favoring set-backs, or control over heavy traffic, or additional local mitigations for water quality protections, might all find common ground in agreeing that local governments–and the people they most directly represent–should have more say in how this activity occurs.  

And that is what scares industry and its enablers.  Because while it does not mean that Colorado is likely to see anything approaching a statewide "fracking ban" anytime soon, local control would mean that industry relinquishes some of its control–in this case handing it over to local communities–and that, it finds apparently, unacceptable.  ‘Local Control’ would, in essence, give local governments and citizens the identical authorities they have for other industrial use—much of which still manages to occur in Colorado.  We do still have mines, gravel pits, chemical factories and asphalt plants—even though local governments get to impose regulations on those, such as making them locate away from schools, town parks, water supplies and the like, or requiring certain mitigations for likely and anticipated traffic impacts. 

Since allowing such local control over these matters is, of course, imminently reasonable, seemingly prudent, and unquestionably fair—being a nation that prides itself on self-government and all; those that oppose it cannot frame an argument to claim that—for  instance—that a local HOA cannot petition its town council to locate oil and gas operations away from a park and playground—is being crazed and irresponsible, so they must argue the extreme: that somehow allowing local people and governments the same abilities they have with putting reasonable limits on other industrial, dangerous, and impactful activity in residential or other sensitive places will lead to 100,000 jobs being lost, a statewide ban on oil and gas development, and total calamity.

Those that have watched the hyperbolic PR flatulence of the oil and gas communications machine should not be surprised that the industry would automatically, reflexively go all Chicken Little.  That is what it does anytime any regulation or other measure to put the true cost into its own bottom line is mentioned.  But it is disappointing to see Colorado leaders leaping on the industry bandwagon.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ModeratusModeratus says:

    We say it's a ban on fracking libs want because that's what the fractivists say they want. If you don't want to be accused of that, don't say it.

  2. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Thanks for posting this, ct.  I, too, was disappointed in both the list of those who have jumped on the bandwagon (a lot of familiar names from the 2004 Amendment 37 campaign) and Secretary Salazar's comments that the initiatives were 'wrong headed". 

    I'm confused how anyone gets to "wrong headed" giving local government control over any industrial activity in their jurisdiction.  If John Q. Public saw the O&G industry as a 'partner' we wouldn't have arrived at this point.  Our tax rates are miniscule when compared to surrounding states; Front Range ozone layers are costing ordinary Coloradans significant dollars in health costs. An alarming number of birth defects are arising on the western slope – yet, crickets.

    Although they are but a small slice of our diverse state economy (about 2.25% of our state GDP), you'd get the impression from every politician who carries their water that our economy would collapse if we simply made them adhere to a platinum-standard BMP's (best management practices).  But the reality is, they didn't (although they could have done so on their own at any time). 

    "Responsible Energy Development", ala the endless banner ads we view here and the dreaded '30-second sound bites' we get from TV – a majority of Coloradans believe they have fallen well-short of 'responsible'.  We're not a colony where they write the rules – they are visitors extracting resources from our trust fund.  If our elected leaders refuse to treat this precious, finitie resource and it's prudent extraction in the manner to which it should be afforded, then the citizens will make sure that happens.

    It's the failure of our elected representatives to put Colorado citizens and its treasury above the demands of the industry that is fueling this citizens 'prairie fire'.  As I'm preparing to hit 'Post' I'm watching the "ordinary Anne Kern" on her mythical ranch somewhere in Colorado assuring me about the safety of fracking.  What's missing from the ad, complete with small children and beautiful horses in the family barn?  Let's just say it would take a 90-second soundbite to fill in the holes. 


  3. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    I'd love to know how they convinced the Eastern Colorado Council of Black Nurses to jump on the Bullfeathers Bandwagon.   From their Facebook page:

    Formed in May 1973, the Eastern Colorado Council of Black Nurses (ECCBN) has worked steadfastly to improve health conditions among minorities in Colorado. ECCBN recognizes the importance of supporting fellow African American nursing professionals.


    Company Overview

    As the first African American nurse in the United States, Mary Mahoney was well known for her professionalism, excellent nursing skills, and her ability to inspire others to work together for human rights. The Eastern Colorado Council of Black Nurses strives to continue this legacy by working together to address health disparities among Coloradan minorities. We endeavor to educate and empower African Americans to obtain high quality health.

    It's a statistical truism that minority neighborhoods are the dumping grounds of the fossil fuel industry.  There's a reason Pueblo is home to three Xcel plants: they don't want them in Greenwood Village.  Under almost any matrix it's the minority population that suffers the worst of health effects from the industries emission profile. 

    It begs the question:  why would the nurses be supporting this coalition?



  4. Republican 36 says:

    Kelly Brough's comment is closer to the mark than some may think. First, of the 4,200 drilling permits issued in 2013, about 2,400 were in Weld County and about 800 in Garfield County. Nearly 75% of all drilling permits in those two counties. The various setback initiatives would place in the state constitution setbacks of 1,500 feet, 2,000 feet or 2,640 feet from any occupied building. The landowner could waive the setback and in all but one of the initiatives if the setback is imposed the mineral rights owner could not sue the local government for a taking.

    85% to 90% of Noble and Anadarko wells willbe adversely impacted by these initiatives. Those companies along with Encana are the largest producers in the state of Colorado. The setback initiatives may not be a total ban on fracking but it will be close to that. Everyone should be honest about what these initiatives will do.

    The other initiatives are either local control initiatives or public trust initiatives and some of them allow local governments to prohibit fracking. Those that do, in conjunction with the setback initiatives will, in fact, all but end fracking in Colorado in the counties where the greatest amount of exploraiton has taken place and will take place in the foreseeable future.

  5. mamajama55mamajama55 says:


    You seem to be positing that all of the setback initiatives will make the ballot, and will be voted in. What are you basing that on?

    None of the ballot measures is even able to collect petition signatures yet.

    There may be some overlap in some of the measures – probably not in the nine that Jared Polis is backing, as he's too savvy for that.

    It would be smart for the environmental community to get together and strategize – decide which of the measures to back. I don't know from setbacks, but as an elections and democracy geek,  I do support local control.

    Governor Hickenlooper promised at the State Assembly to talk with environmentalists "outside" the state assembly – a promise he has not kept. His strategy seems to be to cloud the issue by promoting some sort of fake "grand bargain", without fundamentally addressing the health and safety issues that people are upset and worried about.

    Bottom line: Kids are dying. The silence of the "pro-birth" community on this is deafening. Kids are sick. Adults are sick. 

    if we're worried about economic impacts, what is the economic impact of more asthma, cancer, heart disease, and toxic levels of volatile racking chemicals in the blood of people who live around fracking and/or conventional gas production?

    • Republican 36 says:

      I agree not all of the setback initiatives will make the ballot. Congressman Polis will choose one of his four and pursue it along with his local control initiative. My post was to describe the end economic impact to several of the the oil and gas companies if both a setback, a local control, and a public trust initiative passes in the general election.

      We can discuss the scientific basis for these initiatives and whether that science is well founded but laid side-by-side it is hard to deny the impact of these initiatives is to end fracking in most of the high production oil and gas fields in Colorado.

  6. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    end fracking in most of the high production oil and gas fields in Colorado.

    When those fields lie in close proximity to human habitation, we are talking about ending fracking there to protect human health…not just for the sake of ending drilling and fracking.

    There are millions of acres of potentially profitable gas fields that are nowhere near peoples homes and schools. They are more expensive to develop, so the O&G industry prefers to develop close in to town so they and the lease holder (often a land developer) can make more profit .

    Drilling and fracking has only been vigorously opposed when it has crept ever closer to humans and their homes.

  7. ct says:

    First the Metro Chamber erson did not say if all pass it would effectively shut down operations in the most productive fields, she said that any of the efforts (not all cumulatively) is tantamount to a statewide ban on fracking.  It is hyperbolic nonsense ginned up becuase they know that arguing the facts cannot make their case.  The Niobrara doesn't end at LaFayette.  

    • ct says:

      That was the second point: that the Niobrara extends across the northern tier of the state.  It is related to the Mancos in the West of the State where hundreds of wells are planned and being permitted, FRAM near whitewater, 50 new wells for the Pilot Know Colorado Roadless Area (sorry guys, all that discussion was kind of just an exercise), undreds of wells near Paonia Resevoir (Bull Mnt Unit) and continued development in the San Juan Basin, with a change of target in all cases to the shale.  So, to recap; I think you are incorrect in both counts–that the Chamber lady was correct in her statement (not essentially a Chicken Little fiction) and that Weld County and the Front Range are where the resouruce is, or will be getting developed, lanning forward.  At the moment its about finding oil, not dry gas, but with everyone from the lefft to right pushing to ship to American gas to Europe (for the Ukraine!) or to Asia (for the …. Profits!!!!) that is not a steady state necessarily.  As the title says: Don't Believe the Lies…

  8. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

     local control would mean that industry relinquishes some of its control

    This, in a nutshell, describes the fundamental principle that is such a burr under the saddle of the drilling and fracking guys (and gals).

    I have asserted for a long time that the industry has, through its enormous power and wealth, developed an "entitlement" attitude. That attitude says that O&G is the most important industy in the world and that NOBODY should be able to limit their activities and tell them what to do (or not do, as the case may be).

    That deeply ingrained attitude spurs the industry to be the bully that it collectively is. The demonstration of their ability and willingness to physically intimidate the rest of us was perfectly clear at the BLM hearing in DeBeque yesterday. Wall to wall rows of big, burly, angry men and shrill, sneering, women at their side, cheering wildly at any and every insult aimed at the BLM, the Dept. of Interior, the President, environmentalists, Aspen aristocrats, Mark Udall,and anyone else they envision as an adversary.

    The truth is, they see anyone or anything that challenges their POV (that their high paying job is the ONLY thing that matters) as an enemy worthy of their unmitigated wrath. Funny how one of the most powerful and wealthiest industries in the world can see themselves as victims…but, they most assuredly do.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Duke, so conservation easements were not even discussed? I'm trying to understand that issue. As I understand it:

      1. Landowners were offered a deal to not develop their own land, in exchange for tax credits, which they received.
      2. Then the state of Colorado said that their land had been overvalued, and that they owed the state money.
      3. If they can't pay the "owed" tax credits, they lose their land, and it is then open for development, often by oil and gas interests.
      4. They're pissed about this manipulation.

      Do I have the basics? And, nobody talked about this issue last night?


  9. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Well, mama, we left after about an hour and a half into the O&G tantrum. The subject was exclusively the suspended leases and the indignation of the industry and its' toads (Schwenke, Pugliese, Justman, Scott, among others). Conservation easements were never mentioned.

    I have never been fond of throwing up in public, so when the nausea became overwhelming, we decided we had better things to do.

  10. ct says:

    Issue in a Nutshell: BLM issued a bunch of leases illegally and got caught out.  Now agency is trying to figure out if it can CYA retroactively. Commissioner Rose wants the distraction so is talking about babies: "We have a right to feed our babies," was her quote, I believe.  Great marketing for Mesa County there, huh?

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