Anti-Fracking Measures Fail To Make Ballot

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

A press release from Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams announces the unsurprising news that Initiatives 75 and 78–measures that would have clarified local control rights for communities seeking to regulate oil and gas drilling and mandates large setbacks from existing development for new drilling–did not obtain the necessary signatures to qualify for the 2016 ballot:

Two proposed ballot measures aimed at adding more limitations on oil and natural gas drilling in Colorado failed to make the November ballot because supporters didn’t collect enough valid voter signatures, Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced today.

Citizens who are trying to get an issue on the ballot must submit 98,492 voter signatures. Supporters of the two measures collected more than that for each proposal, but not enough to compensate for the number of signatures that were rejected during the random sample. Initiative No. 75 would have given local governments the authority to regulate oil-and-gas development, including banning fracking. Initiative No. 78 called for a mandatory 2,500-foot setback around oil-and-gas operations.

The proponents have 30 days from today to appeal the decision to the Denver District Court.

The energy proposals were among nine citizen-initiated measures that were submitted for the November ballot. The other seven efforts were successful.

After the failure of the task force created in 2014 to address these issues, which resulted from a deal to pull similar measures off that year’s general election ballot, the failure of the groups pushing Initiatives 75 and 78 to make the ballot is a huge (pun not intended) setback. There will be more to discuss in the coming weeks about the tactics employed by the oil and gas industry against this petition drive, specifically what appears to have been a very aggressive “decline to sign” campaign disrupting the efforts of individual signature gatherers.

But the fact remains that proponents submitted far fewer signatures than other ballot measure campaigns this year, and it was therefore always unlikely that they would be able to meet the margin of sufficiency with only a few percentage points’ worth of signatures over the threshold. To proponents credit they do appear to have a pretty decent validity rate, estimated around 80% for both measures by the Secretary of State. But it wasn’t enough, and in the end the pro campaigns must own their failure.

This certainly isn’t the end of the debate over oil and has drilling in residential areas of Colorado. As the Front Range continues to urbanize over mineral rights considered as sacrosanct as surface dwellers’ rights to peace, clean air and water, the issue will continue to bedevil the state until a better deal for local communities is brokered–in the legislature and/or at the ballot box.

For today, the industry and their allies have scored another big win for the status quo.

41 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. davebarnesdavebarnes says:

    Great news.

    Let the legislature do its job.

  2. Lloyd Worley says:

    Grassroots groups didn't have the millions of dollars that the O&G industry has, so the genuine grassroots people couldn't hire thousands of paid petitioners. Instead, they got out and did it all on their own. The "Decline to Sign" drive by O&G goons worked really well, as evil often does in the beginning. O&G has purchased a so-called environmental group to act as cover, purchased a "farmer" to act as a cover, and purchased the Weld County Food Bank to act as a cover. See, if you spew millions and millions of dollars everywhere, you can really get things done–for your own advantage.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      True enough but despite all that I still think that support for Big Oil, Gas and Coal is pretty strong and broad in Colorado.

      If everything and anything could always be bought by the Kochs and the Bigs, Obama wouldn't have won Colorado and the presidency twice.  

      It's a huge factor but not the only factor. Don't make the mistake of seeing only the Colorado and Coloradans you want to see.

      As to the legislature, they all got elected didn't they? The voters chose them too.

      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        I still think that support for Big Oil, Gas and Coal is pretty strong and broad in Colorado.

        I think you are right about that. So many lies and exaggerations have been pounded into the heads of Coloradans for so long, they believe a LOT of bullshit. I would not underestimate the effect of the campaign against constitutional amendments, either 

    • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

      LloydWorley – your comments on the food bank and 'cover' by farmers reminded me of an diary I wrote on many of these subjects some time back.  Weld County is a land of contradictions: incredible wealth and poverty.  The extraction industry feels more like a fire sale than a responsible development that builds wealthy and opportunity long-term.  

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Lloyd, I was fortunate enough to have met your wife, * and, I think i even met you, when I lived in Greeley and worked with Weld Air and water. I have nothing but admiration for you Worleys – I've seen you stand up in meetings and demand to be heard. You are truly the one of the voices of sanity,  in the belly of the fracking beast in Greeley.

      I know that you both were getting signatures on these petitions, and the fact that two staunch elders like you were bullied and disrespected and outmaneuvered by these "Decline to Sign" O&G shills is fricking shameful. I wish I could have done more to help. I don't know where we go from here.

      We lost this battle, but the war goes on.

      *she might remember that tall teacher lady who went to a few WAW meetings and events, and walked out of one COGA event with her.

  3. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    It's actually a lucky break for the left.   These jihadist measures were so extreme that

    they would have precluded oil ands development in 90 percent of Colorado.   The industry would have poured millions into negative ads to beat them.   In the process, they might have created a vote no wave  that would have crushed lightly funded but worthwhile initiatives like minimum wage and death with dignity.   Of course, there will still be a cataract of ads to defeat 69 but with only one negative campaign, there is less  danger of an overall vote no wave.

    • bullshit!bullshit! says:

      I'm sorry, but this is just bullshit and most of the people I've heard say it work for the industry.

      I'm not saying you do, but I don't buy that shit for a minute. Bring their fucking ads on.

      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        No need, since you've screwed up again and failed to make the ballot.  A

        s it is, worry about surviving the anti-69 tidal wave, now led by NARAL, PN, the Building trades any many other left groups the insurance industry will put up front in their ads… "Even the left-wing "Progress Now"  can't stomach the  too-extreme for Colorado $25 billion tax increase called Amendment 69…"

        And while I don't work for the industry I do own a farm in Phillips County which would have lost every inch of its mineral rights if your half-mile setback had passed.   Of course, I would have joined a federal "takings" lawsuit and might have won more in court than I'd ever get from gas in the current depressed market.    On this one, BS, be happy the left can't count.

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          Congratulations to you on being in that very unique, and enviable, position in Colorado of having a say in both your property's surface and mineral rights.  Unlike the majority of us, you have a voice and can choose the placement and the amount to which you will allow your property's surface to be exploited and degraded.  You can also choose and negotiate your own setbacks.

          If it weren't for the truly messed up situation that most surface rights owners without mineral rights find themselves — and the "takings" that mineral rights owners of exercise daily at the expense of these surface holder's property values in Colorado, I rather doubt that these issues would be nearly so fractious.

          • Pseudonymous says:

            I'm unusual in that I live in a typical subdivision and own both the surface and subsurface rights.  I can't stop myself from being force-pooled.  I can't control the placement of wells.  As I've mentioned before, there are three nine-well pads within 2,500' of my house, two of which have been drilled, fracked, and are being completed after I moved in.  For my trouble I've received roughly $10 from my fractional interest in the play.

            I couldn't control the release of either chemicals or hydrocarbons which led me to have to stop spending time in my yard for a week because they triggered my asthma.  Fortunately, CDPHE was on hand to provide me with a brochure telling me to see my physician.  I couldn't control the noise coming from the well operation that decided to start up before they had done required sound mitigation for their 24/7 work.  Of course, COGCC was quick to note their violation.

            Owning property above and below doesn't help.  The only thing that helps is owning enough that you can set the terms.  Interesting how much we love property rights in this country, but how particular we are about enforcing them.

            • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

              Actually, Psuedo, there is a fool proof method to keep the O&G companies completely off your land. I had a friend in Garfield county, an attorney, who owned several hundred acres and had enough money to form his own exploration company and leased his minerals to himself. No one sets foot on his land without his permission.


              • VoyageurVoyageur says:

                or just don't lease your rights in the first place.   Ours are not currently leased, mainly because the last offer was too low.

                • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                  You are among countless land/mineral owners who mistakenly believe that your surface right protects your mineral right from development. You can easily be force pooled by being included in a "unit", designed jointly by the industry, the COGCC, and the BLM (which, in Colorado stands for , "the Bureau of Leasing Minerals"), in which you can be involuntarily included. Once you have been sent to a unit, your rights are forfeit.

                  • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                    Another thing I think many, particularly conservative types, are missing, V., is the application of the definition of "conservation" as defined in the mission of and practiced by the COGCC

                    The directive given to the agency by statute is to conserve the value of the minerals for the benefit of the citizens of the state by way of the collection of "severance taxes", to be paid by those profiting from said removal. This has been construed to mean, don't leave a drop in the ground, and collect every penny of taxes…..the first of which is a high priority for (FOFs…Friends of Frackenlooper, that is), the second…not so much. The much loved Ad Valorem tax credit, a case in point.

                  • VoyageurVoyageur says:

                    read psudy, duke.   Yes,1/6 acre can be pooled.  Ours is a quarter section — yes, very small as a farm but we can't be pooled and nothing goes on our land without our permission.

                    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                      we can't be pooled  

                      I don't believe you…. prove it. I am ready to be schooled here…what you got? 

                    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

                      I hate to tell you duke but the burden of proof is strictly on you to prove you know more about my land than I do.  You are grasping at straws.

                    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                      Nah….I have nothing to prove and nothing to lose. You can only say one of those things.

                      I hope the bulldozer never shows up at your gate uninvited. When it does, you will have no recourse, except to sue…an oil company.

                      Until you have seen the film I recommended, V., you have no idea how misguided you are. As I said, I am certainly willing to be educated, but I have been at this for 12 years. If things have changed…great. If they have not…I hope you never have to face them.

                    • Pseudonymous says:

                      CRS 34-60-116. Drilling units – pooling interests

                      (1) To prevent or to assist in preventing waste, to avoid the drilling of unnecessary wells, or to protect correlative rights, the commission, upon its own motion or on a proper application of an interested party, but after notice and hearing as provided in this section, has the power to establish drilling units of specified and approximately uniform size and shape covering any pool.

                      (6) When two or more separately owned tracts are embraced within a drilling unit, or when there are separately owned interests in all or a part of the drilling unit, then persons owning such interests may pool their interests for the development and operation of the drilling unit. In the absence of voluntary pooling, the commission, upon the application of any interested person, may enter an order pooling all interests in the drilling unit for the development and operation thereof.

                      From the lips of the beast itself (DGS law firm):

                      As to each non-consenting owner who refuses to bear its share of costs, the order shall provide for reimbursement of costs to the consenting owners


                      – 100% of surface equipment beyond wellhead and operations

                      – 200% of drilling costs

              • Pseudonymous says:

                That's the "owning enough to set the terms" part.  I own 1/6 of an acre, and there's nothing I could have done to avoid being forced into having drilling done under or around me.

                • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

                  I spoke with a few residents of the Greeley area who were force-pooled. They knew of others who barely knew English, but had small acreages and houses.  These residents were given the choice between signing (for a monetary gain of around $60) or being sued for $600 by the mineral rights owner. It happens.

          • VoyageurVoyageur says:

            hardly unique.  I think the split  estate issue is pretty well limited to city folks, Dio.

            • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

               I think the split  estate issue is pretty well limited to city folks, Dio   

              You could not possibly be more wrong V. 

              I encourage you to find and watch the film, "Split Estate". You will find that almost all the affected people in Garfield County were country folk.

              • Diogenesdemar says:


                Oh, ye Duke of little faith . . . 

                You could not possibly be more wrong V. 

                . . . odds are he'll be dishing up "more wrong" at least thrice before the sun sets!

                ps. Prepare yourself for a wordy tangential attack on your misuse of the term "country folk" . . . 



                • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                  Yeah…you got me there..laugh. I'll have a shot of Bushmills and get ready.

                • VoyageurVoyageur says:

                  sorry, I forgot that yuppie stockbrokers who own vacation homes are actually all horny handed sons of the soil.   My bad.smiley

                  • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

                    You don't honestly think this description

                    yuppie stockbrokers who own vacation homes  

                    describes most people, besides fourth generation farmers, who live in rural areas? You seem to have no idea how places like the Divide Creek area in Garfield county are settled. Ranchers sold off their land in small parcels and got rich while the realtors who got rich selling and representing buyers of their land neglected to mention the ramifications of NOT owning their minerals. Most were told, if they had enough smarts to ask, "No, they are not likely to drill around here." Now the rich ranchers expect them to lose the value of the land they paid him for, so he can get even richer…while they lose everything. 

                    By the time they realized they were trapped…it was too late.

                    It was only recently that realtors began to be held to a requirement to mention it

  4. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    Of course he believes this.  #FueledByKoch 


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