Oil and gas opponents to turn focus against Amendment 71 after failure to make ballot on anti-industry measures | MyWindsorNow.com

Oil and gas opponents to turn focus against Amendment 71 after failure to make ballot on anti-industry measures

Staff reports

The groups at odds over some anti-oil and gas measures that failed to make the November ballot are now squaring off against an amendment that would require a percentage of voters from half of the counties in the state for questions of constitutional change.

The group Yes For Health and Safety Over Fracking has turned its attention to fight Amendment 71. The pro oil and gas industry group, Protecting Colorado's Economy, Environment, and Energy Independence, which organized to fight the anti-oil and gas measures, announced earlier this month it was turning its attention to Amendment 71, otherwise known as Raise the Bar. The amendment would require at least 2 percent of the registered voters from Colorado's 35 state Senate districts. The idea is to make it harder to change Colorado's Constitution.

It all started with the anti-industry initiatives 75 and 78. One would have required oil and gas drilling to be at least 2,500 feet from residential and recreational ares, or even waterways; the second would have allowed local governments to ban drilling. The anti-fracking group failed to deliver enough signatures to the Secretary of State last month. The group needed more than 98,000 valid signatures to get on the ballot but fell short by about 20,000.

Their 30-day appeal period now past, group leaders say they will not challenge the outcome to force those measures on the ballot.

"It has been incredibly inspiring to witness the passion and commitment of Coloradans who work against all odds to protect our communities and neighborhoods from the harms of fracking," said Tricia Olson, executive director of Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking said in a release. "We may have run out of time to make it onto this year's ballot, but volunteers are working against 71 now and gearing up for the next round, because ultimately we have no choice but to keep fighting to protect our communities, state, and democracy itself. This is only the beginning."

Olsen, in her release, acknowledge the oil and gas industry out-raised their small group 19-1. In recent weeks, the pro oil industry lobby determined that the backers of Initiatives 75 and 78 collected most of its signatures from three counties: Boulder, Denver and Larimer. As a result, the group turned its attention to 71.

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In her release, Olsen said it would make "grassroots initiatives prohibitively expensive in Colorado due to stringent distribution requirements." The release stated it would equate to corporations, such as those oil and gas companies now contributing to Amendment 71, taking democracy away from its citizens.

According to Micah Parkin of 350 Colorado in the release, "'Raise the Bar' is an attempt to eliminate legitimate grassroots movements that are powered by people by making qualifying for the ballot even more expensive and logistically cumbersome, leaving the process accessible only to extremely wealthy special interests and corporations, like the oil and gas industry."