DENVER (June 15, 2016) – The news continues to worsen for the proponents of Initiative #78, which aims to add mandatory 2,500-foot setbacks from new and existing oil and natural gas operations. Earlier this month, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) released a report detailing that the proposed setbacks would ban 90% of Colorado from future energy development. The report drew the ire of business leaders around the state.
“As we’ve said all along, the extremists behind this ballot issue want to chase our energy sector and the 100,000 jobs it provides out of Colorado,” said Vital for Colorado Board Chair and local attorney Peter Moore. “The setback initiative would have a devastating impact on our energy sector and the thousands of other local businesses whose livelihoods rely on partnering with the industry.”
The setback initiative received another blow this week following a report by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The report finds that Colorado’s Piceance Basin, thanks to a new assessment of the Mancos Shale formation within the Piceance, may have 40 times more natural gas reserves than previously thought making it the second largest field of recoverable natural gas in the United States. While many, particularly on the jobs-starved West Slope, celebrated the news, it was quickly overshadowed by the looming setback ballot initiative that would ban access to these vast natural gas reserves.
Colorado’s Piceance Basin primarily overlays Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. According to the COGCC setback study, these counties will be the most affected by Initiative #78 banning future energy development in 98.9% of Garfield County and 99.2% of Rio Blanco County.
“The USGS study was certainly welcome news for our West Slope communities because it offers an optimistic future to many families and individuals,” said Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Andrea Maddalone. “Sadly, the initiative proponents aim to stifle that hope.”
While the proposed initiative hasn’t yet qualified for the ballot, paid petition gatherers are collecting signatures in the Denver Metro area to put the constitutional question on the November ballot.
“I know when Coloradans across the state learn more about the damaging effects to our urban and rural economies, they’ll loudly voice their opposition and decline to sign these petitions,” Maddalone concluded.