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Colorado ballot measures on oil, gas stalled

Colorado secretary of state said some supporting signatures may have been forged.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Colorado ballot measures on oil, gas stalled
Ballot measures designed to curb oil and gas activity in Colorado failed to make it to the November ballot. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo

DENVER, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A petition to curb Colorado oil and gas activity failed to make it to the November ballot, a push a pro-energy group said was a "short-sighted" effort.

The Colorado secretary of state ruled two ballot measures designed to limit oil and natural gas drilling failed because supporters lacked enough valid signatures. The state found that overall, there were enough submitted, but not enough to compensate for ballots rejected during a random sample.

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Initiative No. 75 gave more control to local governments to regulate oil and gas activity, including a ban on the practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Initiative No. 78 called for a mandatory 2,500-foot setback around oil and gas activity. For No. 78, the state found several potentially forged signatures.

"Short-sighted initiatives like these do nothing more than hurt Colorado's economy and our nation's position as the world's leader in production of oil and natural gas," Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Tracee Bentley said in a statement.

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Justices for the state Supreme Court ruled last year that locally imposed moratoriums on oil and gas activity conflicted and interfered with the power of the state. Two years ago, Gov. John Hickenlooper made a deal with the environmental advocacy community and those in the energy industry to ward off similar initiatives by creating a task force that would oversee the issue in a way he said would benefit residents and the state's economy.

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Oil from Colorado accounts for about one out of every 50 barrels produced in the United States. The American Petroleum Institute, which counts the Colorado Petroleum Council as a member, said the measures could've robbed the state of about $7.1 billion over five years and curtailed up to 90 percent of oil and natural gas development.

Supporters of the initiative said the issue was a matter of public health, pointing to concerns about some of the chemicals used in the exploration of shale oil and natural gas. Supporters have 30 days from Monday to appeal the secretary of state decision on the ballot measures to the Denver District Court.

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