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Gazette Premium Content EDITORIAL: Sage of Boulder would ban energy for fractivists

The Gazette editorial Updated: September 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm

Visualize anti-energy activists living without oil and gas. More on that later.

When the Colorado Legislature convenes in January, none will be safe from more efforts to harm small businesses and eliminate thousands of jobs. Some legislative extremists may try to refer a ballot measure to voters that would amend the Colorado Constitution to eliminate property rights that protect hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, for oil and gas on private land.

If anti oil-and-gas politicians and activists succeed in amending the Constitution, cities and counties will contend with one fewer obstacle in their quest to ban fracking within city and county jurisdictions. We've already seen attempts to ban or obstruct fracking in Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins, Longmont, Lafayette and even Colorado Springs. Last year's legislative session would have devastated oil and gas production if Gov. John Hickenlooper, who respects property rights and the economic value of oil and gas, had not employed behind-the-scenes political maneuvers.

A recent University of Colorado Leeds School of Business analysis found oil and gas employment has grown 34 percent in four years, accounting for almost 30,000 jobs that fund schools, governments and feed families. The study, conducted in 2012, found public revenues from oil and gas - the money generated by taxes, leases and royalties to pay for government - had risen 45 percent in two years to $1.6 billion. That's $600 million more each year than some of the most vociferous anti-fracking activists hoped to raise with the Amendment 66 tax hike few could afford and voters trounced at the polls.

We simply cannot afford a state constitution that allows Not In My Backyarders (NIMBYs) to outlaw fracking, which could end all oil and gas exploration and production in the state.

To counter this assault on families, small businesses, jobs and schools, we turn to the sage of Boulder for advice. That's right, a sound proposal for amending the Colorado Constitution comes from none other than former Boulder Mayor Paul Danish, the font of wisdom responsible for Boulder's famous planning blueprint known as The Danish Plan.

The liberal Democratic former legislator, county commissioner and Soldier of Fortune editor has come up with a constitutional amendment that should justly serve the interests of all - including anti-fracking activists who live in monster homes and travel to anti-energy protests in giant vehicles with the environmentalist driver as sole occupant.

Writing for Boulder Weekly, Danish proposes the following amendment:

"Colorado cities and counties shall have the power to regulate or prohibit the production of oil and natural gas and to regulate or prohibit the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within their borders.

"Upon the adoption of a permanent or temporary prohibition on oil or gas production or fracking by any recognized Colorado city or county, the sale of gasoline, diesel fuel and natural gas within that city or county shall be prohibited for the duration of the ban."

Brilliant. In jest, perhaps, but Danish makes his point. He understands the hypocrisy of radical anti-energy activists. In Boulder, Longmont, Louisville and Broomfield, most live far above average means. Multimillion-dollar homes are common and mostly heated with natural gas. Visitors to any part of metropolitan Boulder see heavily trafficked streets dominated by large, single-occupant SUVs. European micro cars remain a scarce novelty and bicycling is mostly for sport.

"Boulder has never been bashful about practicing symbolic gesture environmentalism," Danish writes, describing green hypocrisy from "do as I say, not as I do" fractivists. He can also speak for his current place of residence - oil-and-gas banning Longmont.

Those who ban oil and gas production should live with direct consequences of their actions. The proposed amendment - call it The Danish Colorado Plan - would force them to do just that. Pass his amendment and see how long these energy banners survive with nothing more than bicycles and wood stoves in an economy suddenly missing thousands of good jobs.

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