The Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover updates on the still-sputtering negotiations over a possible–but increasingly unlikely–special session of the state legislature to address local control of oil and gas drilling. The session, were it to be convened, would seek to pass legislation to forestall ballot initiatives to that could more strictly regulate the industry–from allowing local governments to impose larger setbacks between drilling and other development, to even banning the practice of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") entirely within municipal boundaries.
As Sealover reports, it's pretty amazing what the oil and gas industry can get insiders to say on their behalf:
The Colorado Association of Home Builders' bipartisan lobbying team and six of its board members have resigned in response to the organization’s decision to support Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposal to give cities and counties more regulatory power over oil and gas drilling.
The shakeup of one of the most powerful business-industry groups in Colorado — including statements by one of the resigned lobbyists that CAHB seems intent on appeasing a congressman that the lobbyist called a "terrorist" — comes as the governor has said he’ll only call for a special legislative session to consider the proposal if he gets enough support from interest groups to persuade Democrats and Republicans to get behind the plan…
“Governor Hickenlooper has chosen to appease terrorist Polis rather than stating in no uncertain terms that what he is proposing is devastating for Colorado’s economy and should be defeated,” [lobbyist Steve] Durham wrote. [Pols emphasis]
In truth, many of the conservationist groups supporting one or more of the ballot measures in question are displeased with Rep. Jared Polis for even negotiating with Gov. John Hickenlooper and the oil and gas industry–since they believe, and not without good reason, that a local control ballot measure can pass this fall. Despite this, Polis has expressed support for Hickenlooper's compromise bill, and offered to pull his support for the ballot measures if the compromise effort were to succeed. Without Polis' wealth to back these initiatives, they will naturally be more difficult to pass.
But to claim that pursuing a statewide ballot initiative, the most small-d democratic process that exists in this state or for that matter most anywhere, is tantamount to "terrorism" reveals just how far out of touch lobbyists like Steve Durham are. Our genteel local media is pretty good about sanitizing ridiculous statements like these before the public gets wind of them, so we suspect this won't see much publicity beyond the Denver Business Journal. If they're smart, Durham's friends in the oil and gas industry hope so–Durham might not care what anyone thinks of him, but voters get a little upset about being lumped in with "terrorism" for, you know, voting.
How much contempt does this industry have for the voters of Colorado? If Steve Durham is any indicator, a lot.