Opinion | Letter: ‘Yes’ on Prop 112
I have researched ballot Proposition 112: Increased Setbacks for Oil and Gas Development. The proponent is Colorado Rising (CR), a grass-roots citizen organization from Front Range communities impacted by fracking that are tired of its ubiquitous dust, noise, smells, truck traffic and potential health hazards. Opponents are the oil and gas (O/G) industry.
CR contends the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) – State regulators responsible for O/G resources development consistent with protection of public health, safety, welfare and the environment – are lax in fracking oversight and enforcement.
“Facts” in opposition ads come from an analysis by COGCC and the Common Sense Policy Roundtable, a non-profit free enterprise think-tank dedicated to the protection and promotion of Colorado’s economy. Unbiased analysis? I’m suspicious. CR has $700,000 in campaign funds. The O/G industry, via Protect Colorado PAC, has $8.4 million. Opposition ads use job loss, tax loss, economy collapse, higher gas prices, and reduced national security as scare tactics. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that O/G employment is less than 1 percent of the State’s workforce (tourism 11 percent). Colorado’s economy is highly diversified. Major industries include finance, insurance, real estate, professional/business services, agriculture and tourism. The 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Record reports that Colorado’s voter-approved mandate (30 percent of electricity from renewables by 2020) is making the State a national renewable energy leader (seventh in United States) with 57,591 employees in clean energy jobs. Colorado currently pays more to the O/G industry than it receives in severance taxes due to several tax breaks and court-ordered refunds.
Current high-tech fracking practices are 16 years old, not 60. Gas pump prices are determined by world markets, not local production. O/G rights are more often owned by investors, speculators, developers and O/G companies (many out-of-state or foreign) than by the surface-rights owners. O/G products drilled are sold to highest bidders, often foreign, with no regard for national security. O/G industry is bankrolling Amendment 74 ($3 million) as backup if Proposition 112 passes.
Methane gas released by fracking is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The recent United Nations report on global warming warns the world needs to reduce green-house gas emissions to keep temperatures below 1.5 degree C (now at 1 degree C) to avoid long-lasting and irreversible negative changes to Earth and humans. It’s past time to keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate conversion to renewable energy. Vote “YES” on Proposition 112.
Melinda McWilliams, Fraser
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