Election 2018EnergyEnvironmentHot Sheet

WATCH: ‘Aaron Harber Show’ focuses on oil and gas ballot question

Author: Joey Bunch - October 12, 2018 - Updated: October 12, 2018

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“The Aaron Harber” show will air back-to-back episodes Sunday to drill down on Proposition 112, the ballot question that would require new oil and gas operations to be at least 2,500 feet from homes, schools and businesses.

The episodes will run from 11 a.m. to noon then re-air from 8 to 9 p.m. on KCDO TV Channel 3 across the state.

Harber quizzes proponents Anne Lee Foster, the proposition’s campaign manager; Heidi Henkel, founder of Broomfield Moms Active Community; and state Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton. The host also hears from opponents Tracee Bentley, the executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council; Chip Rimer, senior vice president of Noble Energy; and Craig Rasmuson, vice president of community relations for SRC Energy.

While the oil and gas industry says 2,500 feet would shut down the industry in Colorado, Foster said it’s the standard evacuation area used by emergency responders, and it’s the area where the most negative health impacts are most likely to happen.

Salazar said the citizen-led ballot initiative was necessary because the industry doesn’t negotiate fairly at the state Capitol, citing its work to kill legislation for a 1,000-foot setback last year.

“They are just as responsible for this ballot initiative as the people who went and collected the signatures,” said Salazar, who narrowly lost the Democratic primary for attorney general this year.

The former chief lobbyist for Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, Bentley, responded, “I’m not going to apologize for helping to defeat measures that will hurt our economy and our jobs in the state of Colorado.”

She and her fellow proponents pushed back with the economic losses the measure could inflict. The industry cites data to indicate it has a $32 billion annual economic impact, generating about $1 billion in state and local taxes.

“Proposition 112 will economically devastate the state of Colorado,” Bentley told Harber. “In the first year alone, 43,000 jobs will be at risk. These are good Colorado jobs. And, by the way, 77 percent of that 43,000 is not even oil and gas related. We’re talking about our teachers, our nurses, our mechanics — these are our community members.”

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The discussion also covers the health and public safety of having the industry in proximity to neighborhoods.

“Also examined were the sources of funding for both sides of the campaign,” Harber said. “The opponents argue the measure is funded primarily by outside interests, while the proponents countered by saying the opponents’ war chest of tens of millions of dollars dwarfed any resources they had themselves. Opponents argued the proposal was an effort to create a model that, if successful, could be used across the country to stop oil and gas activities.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.