(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.