Diane Brower: Push continues to push oil and gas setbacks | SteamboatToday.com

Diane Brower: Push continues to push oil and gas setbacks

Leading up to last November’s election, oil and gas interests spent an unprecedented $40 million to defeat Proposition 112, the ballot measure requiring 2,500-foot oil and gas setbacks from homes, schools, playgrounds, water sources and other vulnerable areas. The existing requirement for setbacks from oil and gas development is 500 and 1,000 feet from schools.

The supporters of Proposition 112 had only $1.3 million to spend. In spite of that huge discrepancy in expenditures, the voting outcome statewide was 57 percent against and 43 percent in favor.  The vote in Routt County was 43.6 percent against and 56.4 percent for.   

Much of that $40 million oil and gas money was spent to confuse voters through ambiguous organizations with names similar to those in support of Proposition 112, and the prediction that passage would send Colorado into a recession. The percentage of Colorado’s gross domestic product from oil and gas development is under 5 percent. The GDP of the outdoor industry is 10 percent.

The debate about Proposition 112 mirrors the larger debate about the urgency of climate change impacts and what we can do to slow human-caused CO2 and methane emissions, the primary drivers of climate change. There is no debate among climate scientists about the human causes of climate change and the damage it will increasingly cause to life on Earth. 

Climate change-related disasters are killing thousands and costing many billions of dollars. The short-term impacts of a transition from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy are minimal compared to the long-term, catastrophically disruptive impacts of continuing to rely on fossil fuels.   

A Jan. 14 Colorado Supreme Court decision highlighted that current law requires state regulators to foster oil and gas development in Colorado, even if there are environmental and public health risks. Allowing the trajectory of increasing oil and gas development in Colorado’s economy to continue will result in dire consequences to our health and environment, and ultimately, our economy.

The citizens/grassroots organizations that supported Proposition 112 are continuing to push for Colorado legislation to increase oil and gas setbacks. There is currently an effort to get signatures on a petition to Gov. Jared Polis asking him to increase oil and gas setbacks, reform oil and gas regulations, and transition Colorado to renewable energy. 

To sign that petition, go to https://350colorado.org/action-alert-call-on-governor-elect-jared-polis-to-take-meaningful-action-to-protect-colorado-communities. Also contact State Rep. Dylan Roberts at 303-866-2923 and State Sen. Bob Rankin (replacing Randy Baumgardner on Jan. 21) at 303-866-5292.

Diane Brower

Steamboat Springs

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