EnergyHot Sheet

Initiative 97: Republicans take official position against oil & gas setbacks

Author: Joey Bunch - August 15, 2018 - Updated: August 15, 2018

An oil pump near a new home In Frederick, Weld County. (milehightraveler via iStock)

Partisan sides have been taken on Initiative 97, the ballot measure aimed at expanding setbacks for oil and gas operations from homes.

Colorado Politics was the first to report that the Colorado Democratic State Central and Executive Committee had taken a position in support of it. Now Republicans have done the same in opposition.

In doing so, the party aimed its barbs at Jared Polis, the congressman from Boulder who is this year’s Democratic nominee for governor. Polis has not embraced Initiative 97, but four years ago he supported and put his own money behind a ballot initiative that would have required 2,000-foot setbacks, before withdrawing the measure.

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Initiative 97 would expand the buffer zones between homes and new oil and gas operations from the current 500 feet to 2,500.

The state GOP noted that Gov. John Hickenlooper also has opposed more restrictions on the oil and gas industry as a threat to oil-and-gas jobs.

“Initiative 97 would jeopardize 200,000 jobs in Colorado and $1 billion in local and state tax revenues,” state Republican Party chairman Jeff Hays said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “By opposing it, Colorado Republicans are standing up for the working men and women of the oil and gas industry. That includes everyone from the engineers to the crews on the rigs. Republicans are the party of the American worker.

“The Colorado Democratic Party has taken a sharp turn to the left since it nominated John Hickenlooper for governor eight years ago. Initiative 97 is a crazy measure that would wreck Colorado’s private-sector economy and gut the state’s budget. And it’s remarkably similar to a ballot measure Congressman Polis personally funded in the past, which was thwarted because Democrats like John Hickenlooper intervened.”

Colorado Rising, the group supporting Initiative 97, did not have an immediate comment about the Republican position. (This story will be updated.)

“Initiative 97 is a bad idea plain and simple,” Dan Haley, the president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association said Wednesday. “It’s a job killing measure that could lead to 147,000 lost jobs – most of them outside our industry. Energy should not be a partisan issue, and neither should be protecting Colorado’s workforce. Still, we’re happy to see the State Republican Party oppose this measure, as have many notable Democrats, including Jared Polis, the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor.”

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.