Editorial: Voters should reject yet another attack on energy industry

Not again.

Colorado Rising, the group behind a failed 2018 ballot measure that would have created 2,500-foot setbacks for new oil and gas wells, has filed six potential ballot measures with the Colorado Secretary of State, one of which would create a setback of 2,500 feet between drilling rigs and homes, schools and other sites, with language identical to the failed 2018 measure.

The 2018 version — Proposition 112 — was resoundingly defeated at the polls, with 55 percent of voters opposed.

Since then, the Colorado Legislature in 2019 passed major changes to the state’s energy laws — Senate Bill 181 — providing far greater local control over oil-and-gas drilling and increasing health-and-safety protections. Industry executives have warned about the effects of those new regulations on the state’s energy and natural-resources industry, which accounts for an economic impact of $11.4 billion annually, according to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Yet, even as those new policies are being implemented — and as the industry has faced lower oil prices — opponents are at it again with yet another attack.

As Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, told the Colorado Independent, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

What’s behind the latest measure? Activists with Colorado Rising say they’ve been dissatisfied with the effects of last year’s legislative action and the pace of change, even though the bill brought the most-significant changes in Colorado energy regulations in decades.

Colorado Rising will evaluate the six measures submitted to the Secretary of State to determine which might have the best chance of succeeding. Once that’s determined, supporters will begin collecting signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

So, it seems that once again, Colorado’s energy industry will be forced to defend against a destructive ballot measure that would devastate the state’s economy, much of which is focused in Weld County.

We encourage anyone concerned with the effects of fracking to give the new regulations a chance to be implemented, to provide the industry an opportunity to gauge the impact of the 2019 legislation, and to give oil and gas producers a chance to weather an often difficult global energy market.

Otherwise, if Colorado Rising succeeds in getting another measure on the ballot, we urge voters to resoundingly defeat it once again.