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EDITORIAL: Defeat latest attack on Colorado energy

By: The GAzette editorial board
June 11, 2018 Updated: June 11, 2018 at 9:10 am
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There they go again, doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Anti-energy activists are going to the ballot again, trying to pass an unconstitutional law that would kill good jobs, trample private property rights and harm one of Colorado's largest economic drivers.

Initiative 97 would try to impose a 2,500-foot setback, meaning oil and gas producers could not operate wells within that distance from any neighborhood, residence, or school.

To grasp the extreme nature of this idea, visualize 14 football fields side by side. The distance across equals the distance proposed by this initiative. It would put nearly every oil and gas operation in Colorado in violation of the setback.

We say "try to" impose the setback for two reasons: 1. Most Colorado voters are likely too wise to vote for this; and 2. The state and federal constitutions don't allow voters to seize control of property without due process and just compensation. An election is neither due process nor just compensation.

Surface land used for drilling is often private property. So are the subsurface minerals below. Voters have no more authority to control these assets than they have to vote away an individual's right to communicate, worship or own a gun.

The proposal is so radical, not one candidate for governor - among crowded fields of Democrats and Republicans - supports the measure. Even U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a crusader for more regulation of oil and gas, does not support this initiative.

Out-of-state money makes up 45 percent of the measure's funding. Of in-state funding, 96 percent comes from Boulder County. That means wealthy activists from other states and Boulder are funding a measure that jeopardizes more than 230,000 jobs directly tied to Colorado oil and gas production.

Beginning with Greeley in the early 1990s, communities have attempted to place moratoriums and aggressive restrictions on energy production. Everyone uses fossil fuels, even in traveling to protests of oil and gas. Yet, politicians promote themselves by telling constituents oil and gas operations belong near some other community. If the state allowed the attempts at "local control," communities with the lowest economic means would end up with the most energy production near houses and schools.

In each instance of a community trying to shut down drilling and production, Colorado courts have stricken the measure as a violation of law.

For those who hate the sights and sounds of fossil fuel extraction, good news awaits. Energy markets are changing by the day, as entrepreneurs and engineers improve the efficiency of harnessing and storing power produced by the wind, the sun and geothermal heat.

The market will constantly move us in the direction of cleaner and more efficient energy sources. In the meantime, our economy needs all safe and available energies to heat and cool businesses and homes, to sustain agriculture and transport people and goods.

Don't let mindless activism threaten good jobs and Colorado's economic stability. Plan to vote "no" on Initiative 97, and spread the word about an unlawful and counterproductive attack on energy we need.

The Gazette editorial board

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