Hickenlooper: Legislation on fracking crucial

By: The Associated Press
August 6, 2014 Updated: August 6, 2014 at 8:33 pm
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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert gestures, as Colo. Governor John Hickenlooper sits at left, during a forum session at the Rocky Mountain Energy Summit, in Denver, Wednesday Aug. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper said Wednesday that legislation should result next year from a commission he has created to study hydraulic fracturing in Colorado.

Hickenlooper called for a commission to study fracking as a compromise to prevent four competing ballot proposals from being on the November ballot.

"Its success is dependent upon it ending in regulation," Hickenlooper said about the commission. But he added that if nothing materializes, "it doesn't mean that they can't still do things that are constructive."

The Democratic governor made the remarks after speaking to industry leaders at the annual Energy Expedition Summit in Denver.

The commission, which will include industry and local government officials, will make recommendations for lawmakers to consider during next year's legislative session. It was a way to get groups to drop their dueling ballot initiatives.

Two of the initiatives would limit fracking, including increasing the distance between homes and rigs. The pro-industry initiatives would require fiscal-impact statements on future ballot questions regarding energy development, and prevent municipalities banning fracking from collecting state revenue that comes from drilling.

Hickenlooper told industry officials at the event that "both of these made perfect sense" and he would've preferred to have them on the November ballot. But he added that, "At a certain point, you have to accept that you give something to get something."

The anti-fracking measures were financially backed by Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, creating a rift within his party and raising concerns that the ballot questions would hurt fellow Democrats in November battling with Republicans who support drilling.

Fracking is a technique that blasts a mix of water, sand or gravel, and chemicals into underground rock formations to release trapped oil and gas.

Hickenlooper was joined at the event by Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who said fracking has helped fuel his state's economy.

"Hydraulic fracturing has been a Godsend," he said.

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