In Colorado, the drilling boom that accompanied hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is coming under increasing scrutiny, especially in the wake of several lethal accidents in frontline communities. On November 7, Broomfield, a large town between Denver and Boulder, will vote on a charter amendment that would require oil and gas development to safeguard the environment and “not adversely impact the health, safety, and welfare of Broomfield’s residents.”
The citizen-initiated charter amendment, Question 301, reiterates a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling from earlier this year, which some say changes the mandate of the state regulatory commission in charge of oil and gas. Following a lawsuit by Colorado teen Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, the court ruled in March that safeguarding public health and the environment was indeed “a condition that must be fulfilled” prior to oil and gas drilling.
This decision was a stark divergence from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s long-held stance that the commission only had to “balance” health and the environment, with its mandate to facilitate fossil fuel extraction.
A campaign to defeat Broomfield’s charter amendment has received over $344,000 in contributions from the industry. The Colorado Petroleum Council — a local chapter of the American Petroleum Institute — is involved with a suite of campaign activities against it, including phone outreach, direct mailing, polling, data, digital outreach, and online advertising.
Supporters of Question 301, meanwhile, have so far raised about $7,000.
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