Outcome of vote to increase buffer zone between homes and drill sites expected to be extremely close.
Mark HandTwitterNotable Coloradans such as former star Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway and former U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton have appeared in television advertisements financed by the oil and gas industry to oppose a grass roots-driven ballot initiative — known as Proposition 112 — that would expand the buffer zone between homes and drilling sites.
In the latest development in the ballot initiative battle, the oil industry is bringing in celebrities to push back on the popular grassroots initiative. Individual natural gas companies are also spending huge sums of unregulated money on anti-proposition television advertisements.
“Given Elway’s past forays into politics, his presence alone suggests that he’s probably advocating for something bad,” the sports news website Deadspin reported Thursday. “That the ad itself contains nothing that could even charitably be described as ‘information’ beyond one suspiciously precise figure on Jobs Somehow Destroyed By Proposition 112 does nothing to assuage that suspicion.”
The Colorado ballot initiative would expand the buffer zones between homes and industrial oil and gas facilities. As with other ballot initiative attempts in the past, Colorado’s anti-fracking activists are sending the oil and industry into a frenzy, despite the relatively modest nature of the proposition.
If the proposition passes, it would give residents the peace of mind of knowing they will be safer from potential blasts and further away from the noise and odors that come with drilling operations. And it would allow the industry to continue drilling in less populated areas.
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The industry has so far raised $30 million to defeat the measure, about 40 times the money that environmental groups have raised. But Proposition 112 is far from radical. It doesn’t call for banning fracking in Colorado. The measure would simply keep new wells farther away from homes and schools, expanding the distance from a 500-foot minimum to 2,500 feet.
Yet, the industry’s efforts to defeat Proposition 112 are moving into the realm of dirty politics. Westword reported Thursday that in a last-ditch attempt to defeat the measure before November 6, natural gas giant Noble Energy is blanketing Colorado television with election-focused political ads that it claims are outside the purview of all state campaign-finance laws.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision weakened regulation of federal campaign laws, but it preserved state statutes that require direct election expenditures to be disclosed. Noble Energy’s advertisements explicitly urge Coloradans to vote against the ballot measure, but the company has declared that such ads are not governed by state campaign-finance or disclosure laws, according to Westword.