Referred to as the Setback Requirement for Oil and Gas Development, here is what Colorado voters will be asked to consider on November 6:
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning a statewide minimum distance requirement for new oil and gas development, and, in connection therewith, changing existing distance requirements to require that any new oil and gas development be located at least 2,500 feet from any occupied structure in any area designated for additional protection and authorizing a state or a local government to increase the minimum distance requirement?
“Any area designated for additional protection” has been described as “sensitive areas”, such as “streams, intermittent streams, canals, and open spaces”. Current setbacks are 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools.
Will it pass?
A poll conducted by the University of Colorado’s American Politics Research Lab indicates that as of last week, 52% of the state’s voters support the new rule. The poll has a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.
Who’s against and why?
The Denver Post, certainly no right-wing lackey, says Prop 112 is written in such a way as to effectively ban oil and gas operations in the state. The Post says Weld County would be particularly hard hit. An example of a “vulnerable” area: A dry creek bed that flows only during heavy rain would have a 450 acre no-drill zone around it. The Post has not seen evidence that oil and gas activity is the kind of unmitigated threat to health and safety that would merit a ban.
Two professors from Colorado School of Mines, adjunct professor Will Fleckenstein, and head of the Petroleum Engineering Department Jennifer Miskimins, contend in the Payne Institute that the COGCC conclusion that 85% of non-federal lands in Colorado would be off-limits if the proposition passes is accurate. Assuring a tense faculty holiday party, they disagree with Peter Malinoff (also of CSM, see below) that 42% of nonfederal lands would be open to development. They say vast majority of that land is located hundreds of miles from the sweet spots, such as the DJ Basin.
And, as expected, Energy in Depth, which calls the effort a campaign to rid Colorado of all fossil fuel development.
Western Wire reports a study for the Colorado Alliance of Mineral and Royalty Owners concluding that passing the proposition would result in a $180 billion loss, and CAMRO threatens regulatory taking litigation. Or maybe its $470 billion.
The two candidates for governor and outgoing Gov. Hickenlooper are all against the measure.
Who’s in favor and why?
James Hansen, also in the Denver Post, celebrates “valve turners” in Minnesota (they turned off valves to pipelines transporting Canadian tar sands oil) who used the affirmative defense of “necessity” in defending a criminal action: An act of civil disobedience that is necessary to help prevent a greater harm of climate change. Hanson describes the “horrors of climate change that is certain to come” from global warming, including bark beetles, powerful hurricanes, and sea level rise that is already happening in Pacific islands. He predicts “vast human suffering and massive biodiversity loss.” His goal is to make oil and gas “hard to access.”
The aforesaid Dr. Malinoff is Assistant Professor, Division of Economics and Business. In a piece for the Payne Institute, finds that 42% of non-federal subsurface would be accessible if the ban passes, or nearly three times the available surface area reported by the COGCC. He says scientific evidence is that that living within 2500 feet of a well may have adverse health effects. He acknowledged that the restrictions would impose “substantial operational difficulties”, and says his analysis does not consider the varying quality of resources, in particular the “sweet spot” in the DJ Basin.
And, as also expected, Colorado Rising and many other environmental activists, mostly from out-of -state.
For our musical interlude, an old song in a new way.