Here are the most frequently asked questions about Initiative #97
Initiative #97 is designed to put a buffer zone of 2,500 feet between new industrial oil and gas operations and your family, your neighbors, and your drinking water. If we have not answered your question, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions About 2,500 Feet and Setbacks
What is the current setback from new fracking operations?
500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools and hospitals. These distances are arbitrary, and numerous recent studies indicate that Colorado’s current setback from oil and gas development is simply “inadequate.”
Why is the proposed buffer zone or setback 2,500 feet?
2,500 feet, slightly less than ½ mile, is based on peer-reviewed health studies indicating that health impacts are greatest within a half mile of a “fracking” site.
How big is 2,500 feet?
2,500 feet is less than ½ mile or about 7 football fields. In the case of urban and suburban neighborhoods, buffer zones will overlap. 2,500 feet on the side of streams and rivers will prevent spills from running off into these freshwater sources.
Would a larger setback distance be better?
Yes. Some studies indicate that a more appropriate minimum setback should be 1 mile, and the average evacuation distance for a well blowout is 0.8 miles.
Is this a ban?
No. Even though the above-ground drill head might be 2500 feet away, the horizontal part of a drilled well often travels underground for up to and perhaps exceeding two miles. Unfortunately, the setback rules we propose cannot include federal lands, which make up roughly 34% of Colorado.
Why did you include waterways?
Potential drinking water sources are included in the setback, because there are risks to both groundwater and aquifers from “fracking” operations and injection wells. There were 619 spills in Colorado in 2017 with at least 93,000 gallons of oil into the soil, groundwater and streams plus 506,000 gallons of produced water spilled, including direct flows into waterways.
How much of Colorado would a 2,500 feet setback protect?
Exact figures are difficult to ascertain. Although more expensive, again, a well can be drilled a considerable distance, dependent on terrain and technology. In addition, some areas have already been drilled extensively and have become less productive. In fact, because of that loss in productivity, the industry is increasingly driven to exploit high density suburban areas, areas where the harms to people’s’ health and safety must take precedence. These are the areas where the impact of a 2,500 feet setback will be the greatest.
Can’t local governments pass greater setbacks?
No, not under current court rulings. Oil and gas is the only industry where local zoning rules do not apply, and a state agency is given total control. The Legislature could change the law, but it has repeatedly failed to do so.
General Questions About the Initiative
I’ve “pledged to sign” online. Do I still need to sign a printed PAPER petition for the initiative?
Yes! The official paper petition is the legal document that we must submit to the Secretary of State by August in order to qualify for the General Election in November 2018.
Won’t amendment #71, passed in 2016, prevent us from gathering enough signatures?
Although the signature-gathering requirements passed in Amendment 71 were recently ruled unconstitutional, that was not the case when the initiative was submitted. Realizing how difficult it would be for a grassroots campaign, we pursued a statutory initiative instead of a constitutional one, so the #71 rules would not apply.
What amendment number will CO Rising’s initiative be on the November ballot?
Although we’re called initiative #97 now, a new number will be assigned for the general election in November based on the order initiatives qualify for the ballot.
What is the difference between a statutory vs constitutional initiative?
A constitutional initiative/amendment changes the Colorado Constitution. A statutory initiative/proposition changes the Colorado Statutes.
Are there any risks associated with passing a statutory initiative?
Yes, because statutes can be re-written or amended by the legislature. We believe that elected officials would be reluctant to so egregiously reverse the will of the people right after passage. Any change would require a majority in both the State Senate and State House, in addition to the signature of the Governor. Continued citizen vigilance is still a must.
What are the requirements to sign the petition?
Only people who are registered to vote in Colorado and who would be eligible to vote in the November 2018 election may sign the petition. If you are not already registered or need to change your registration, you can do so online. Students who are residents of Colorado may keep their hometown Colorado registration and vote by mail from college. Students who register to vote and vote in a different state cannot also cast a ballot in Colorado.
Why aren’t we running a “local control” initiative?
In 2016 there were two initiatives: one was a 2,500 feet setback, the other would have given each local government the right to control “fracking” in their communities. We still believe in local control, but it was harder for the public to understand, and setbacks/buffer zones had greater support. Even if a local control initiative passed statewide, it would only protect communities where elected officials are attuned to the issues around “fracking” or local activists have the money and organization to pass additional safeguards.
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Fracking is harming much of what we all love about living in Colorado and why so many people like to visit – the fresh air, clean water, beautiful landscapes and a safe place to raise our families.