Initiative 97 would mandate oil and gas development be set back at least 2,500 feet (eight football fields) from any occupied structure or defined vulnerable area. This would increase the minimum setback distance for a residence five times what is legally required now, and the setback for a high-occupancy building 2.5 times what it is now. The initiative also grants state and local governments the authority to impose even greater setbacks, with no limitation.
A 2016 Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission study concluded that a similar 2,500-foot setback initiative that failed to make the ballot would eliminate new oil and gas development on 95 percent of the surface land in the state’s top five oil and gas producing counties (Weld, Garfield, La Plata, Rio Blanco and Las Animas). Make no mistake, Initiative 97 is a ban on oil and gas development in Colorado. If passed, it would lead to the loss of 140,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in revenue to the state. In 2015 and 2016 alone, the oil and gas industry provided $839 million in funding to K-12 education. And over the past eight years, the industry has paid $615 million in severance taxes to help fund new parks and recreation centers, police and fire protection, and transportation projects. This all goes away if Initiative 97 passes.
Not a single candidate vying for governor supports Initiative 97. You shouldn’t either.