Colorado Fracking Ban Initiative (2014)

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Voting on Fracking
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A Colorado Fracking Ban may appear on a 2014 ballot in the state of Colorado as an initiated state statute. If approved by voters, the measure would grant local governments the power to ban the practice of extracting natural gas via hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.[1] In 2013, there was talk of a measure, supported by the group Protect Our Colorado, that sought to ban fracking statewide.[2] The current form of the measure is sponsored by the Colorado Community Rights Network.[1]

Background

See Energy policy in Colorado for a full explanation of energy policy across the state.

Fracking is the process of injecting fluid - mostly water and sand but with additional chemicals - into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks, releasing the oil and natural gas inside. This practice is controversial, as many of the chemicals used are alleged by opponents to be toxic or carcinogenic. Activists who are against the method argue that it releases methane and harmful chemicals into nearby ground water. However, supporters of the process argue that, in fact, none of the chemicals are dangerous.[3] They further contend that fracking significantly increases domestic oil output and could eventually lead the United States to energy independence.[4]

In 2013, local ballot measures in four Colorado cities sought to put a moratorium on fracking. All four got the green light from voters.[5] One of the local Colorado fracking measures was approved by such a thin margin that a recount was held. The recount upheld the original election results, showing the measure was approved 50.04 to 49.96 percent.

Lawsuits

On the night before the completion of the election results recount, opponents of the ban filed a lawsuit claiming the election was not conducted properly. The Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition is the main plaintiff in the new court case against the city and county of Broomfield, alleging in Broomfield District Court that the elections division failed to provide the proper BBEC election monitors during the ballot counting process.[6]

In 2012, Longmont voters approved a citizen initiated charter amendment to ban hydraulic fracturing, the method of extracting oil and gas known as fracking. The measure was approved by nearly 60% of voters. Two lawsuits were filed against Longmont over this ban. The most recent was initiated by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and was recently joined by the state's Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. According to a Colorado Open Records Act request, both lawsuits together had already cost the city of Longmont almost $69,000 in legal fees as of March 31, 2013.[7]


Support

This initiative is sponsored by the group Colorado Community Rights Network.[1]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Colorado

In Colorado, supporters must obtain at least 86,105 valid signatures by August 4, 2014 in order to place a measure on the ballot, regardless of whether the measure is an initiated constitutional amendment or an initiated state statute.

See also

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References