State Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg and former House Speaker Frank McNulty announced Thursday that they will file an initiative for the 2014 ballot that would bar the state from directing energy taxes to communities that ban energy development.
“This issue is one of common sense and fairness,” said Sonnenberg. “If a community decides to ignore all the science and all the facts and ban responsible energy development, those communities shouldn’t be able to line up at the trough and benefit from responsible oil and gas development occurring in other parts of the state.”
He added, “It is the height of hypocrisy for the Boulders and Ft. Collins of the world to benefit from oil and gas taxes so long as they have an oil and gas ban in place.”
If passed by the voters in November, the initiative would prohibit local jurisdictions from receiving energy tax funds while bans or moratoriums are in effect.
“This initiative creates a fair process that also allows communities to begin sharing in these funds again, as soon as the bans or moratoriums are lifted,” said McNulty.
According to state economists, severance tax revenues are surging thanks to growth in the oil and gas sector spurred by advances in hydraulic fracturing.
In 2012-13, the state collected $138 million in severance taxes, a number that is projected to surge to $208 million this year, peaking at $275 million in 2015-16.
A significant share of these revenues are given out to communities by the state Department of Local Affairs through a process where cities and counties make grant requests for a range of programs and projects.