A group pushing two anti-fracking measures in Colorado has withdrawn the initiatives after reaching a deal with Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who agreed to create a task force to make recommendations on how to minimize land-use conflicts in siting oil and gas facilities. The task force will consist of equal representation from energy companies, environmental groups, and local governments.
Coloradans for Safe and Clean Energy withdrew Initiative 88, which would have asked voters to require a 2,000-foot setback from the nearest occupied structure for new oil and gas wells, and Initiative 89, which would have established a “public right” to a clean environment and declared that the more restrictive law or regulation governs where state and local law conflict. Industry also withdrew its own pro-fracking ballot measures as part of the deal, including Initiative 121, which would have prohibited a local government that has banned hydraulic fracturing from receiving oil and gas tax revenues distributed by the state, and Initiative 137, which would require advocates of ballot initiatives to include estimates of fiscal impact for proposed initiatives.
The anti-fracking initiatives were seen as threats to the political futures of Gov. Hickenlooper and Sen. Mark Udall (D), both of whom have opposed the measures and are up for reelection this November. Rep. Jared Polis (D), one of the richest members of Congress, has bankrolled the two anti-fracking initiatives, but withdrew his support as part of the deal and stood with the Governor at the August 4th press conference announcing the agreement. Rep. Polis has been under pressure from fellow Democrats who feared his proposed ballot initiatives could cost the party a Senate seat and the governorship.