Monday, September 10, 2018

Colorado ballot initiative to keep drilling 5 times farther from neighborhoods polls well, but campaign is far from over

Colorado residents will vote on a ballot initiative in November that would ban oil and gas drilling within 2,500 feet of buildings and some green spaces (up from the current limit of 500 feet), and the battle over it is "NIMBYism at its most stark," Amy Harder writes for Axios.

"Not In My Back Yard" opposition tends to have a negative connotation, but it shouldn't here, Harder writes. "It’s the surprisingly simple result of a growing population and oil drilling encroaching on each other. It's a national symbol of both the economic benefits of drilling and its understandable drawbacks to nearby neighborhoods."

The state's oil sector is spending big to defeat the measure. Industry officials worry it will curtail new development, which could cost 150,000 jobs and risk $1 billion a year in taxes, Harder writes. A state study found the initiative could put as much as 85 percent of the state's non-federal lands off limits to energy development. Backers counter that drilling near homes endangers safety and the environment. 

Polling by the oil industry found that the initiative is getting 60 percent support, but the race isn't run yet. "Conventional wisdom among analysts following the initiative is that it’ll fail, fueled by a well-funded industry campaign and bipartisan political opposition to the measure," Harder writes.

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