Insane Colorado Anti-Fracking Proposal Would Gut State Economy

Colorado Anti-FrackingDavid Wojick, PhD
Independent Analyst

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Will Colorado voters, residents of a state with a huge oil and gas industry benefiting them in innumerable ways, choose to gut their own state economy?

The anti-fracking folks are trying a clever new strategy in Colorado. Instead of banning fracking, they just make it impossible. In fact, they make nearly all oil and gas development and production impossible – which is exactly what radical “leave it in the ground” eco factions demand.

However, the Colorado focus seems to be fracking (horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) because, being new, it is the scariest. And people sure are being scared.

The new trick is called “buffer zones,” which means areas where drill rigs and fracturing work cannot be done, so nothing can be found or produced. Colorado already has 500-foot diameter buffer zones around every house and 1,000-footers around things like schools and hospitals.

Now comes Proposition 112, which is on The Centennial State’s November election ballot. This fake “green” hummer does three bad things. First, it extends the buffer zone to 2,500 feet, which around a house is a whopping 25 times bigger circle than before.

Second, it adds these big buffer zones to natural features like “intermittent streams,” which pretty much covers the entire state. After all, every time it rains hard, the water has to run off in a temporary stream – and it rains everywhere at some point, even in arid Colorado. Right?

Note that these stream buffer zones are not circles. They are honking, gerrymandered rectangles almost a mile wide and as long as the so-called stream. Note that intermittent streams are not there most of the time, maybe 90% of the time. But their huge buffer zone is there 24/7/365, waiting for rains that may or may not come.

To top off this insanity, local governments are allowed to make even bigger buffer zones, as big as they like. If two jurisdictions overlap, the bigger buffer rules.

Analysts estimate that fully 85% of all the private land in Colorado will be closed to oil and gas exploration under Prop 112. That is more than enough to destroy the industry. But if “intermittent stream” is interpreted broadly enough, it could well be 100%. As I said, it rains everywhere.

Colorado anti-fracking

Note that neither the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nor the State of Colorado is proposing this nonsense, because there is no science to support it. So rabid greens are trying to scare voters into passing it, thereby bypassing the responsible government agencies.

Of course, the greens have tons of pseudoscience on their side. The foundation of the scare is a huge March 2018 report from the Physicians For Social Responsibility (PSR), a well known far-left green group. The PSR report has this appropriately menacing title:

“Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings
Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking

There are all sorts of speculative “risks,” but very few actual, documented harms – and these harms are mostly oil and gas industry accidents, or relatively minor seismic activity associated with injecting all kinds of municipal and industrial fluids deep underground. They have nothing to do with fracking.

That there is no actual science supporting these industry-crushing, economy-crushing monster buffer zones does not deter the greens one bit. (Does it ever?) The leading environmentalist organization pushing Prop 112 is Colorado Rising. (Rising from or to what, we do not know.)

Colorado Rising’s “explanation page” features this screaming all-caps headline:

ABOUT COLORADO RISING AND PROPOSITION 112

A GROWING BODY OF PUBLIC HEALTH RESEARCH SHOWS THAT LIVING TOO CLOSE TO FRACKING OPERATIONS, ESPECIALLY LESS THAN 1/2 MILE, IS A SERIOUS RISK TO HEALTH AND SAFETY.

This is purely and simply a lie. But it is well masked by the impenetrable PSR report.

PSR has even produced a 4-page “special report” for Colorado, highlighting some supposed local studies. Not one looked at measures of proximity, such as 500 feet versus 2,500 feet. Some even looked at differences between counties!

Not one acknowledged EPA and other studies that found no impacts on groundwater from properly conducted fracking operations. Even a landmark 2015 Obama era U.S. EPA study found almost no instances where fracking contaminated subsurface drinking water.

Even worse, none of these studies looks at intermittent streams, which are the real killer in Prop 112. Colorado Rising carefully avoids this issue, perhaps because ditches don’t vote – more likely because the economic impacts would be so devastating. Better to stick to scaring people.

In short, there is no science whatsoever to support Proposition 112. Colorado stands to lose billions of dollars with this “leave it in the ground” nonsense. But since they are not formally banning fracking, at least not on paper (just in reality), it all looks innocent and harmless.

However, a University of Colorado Leeds School of Business study projects that even a 2,000-foot setback could cut Colorado’s GDP by as much as $11 billion per year and eliminate 62,000 jobs by 2030. Prop 112 would likely double those destructive impacts.

There is a great deal of confusion over this clever trick, because some see it for what it is, but many do not. The press coverage is a study in confusion and chaos, which is just what the greens want. Scary assertions, no matter how far-fetched or unlikely, frighten voters. If there were a prize for brilliant green Halloween tricks, Prop 112 would surely get the blue ribbon.

Moreover, this is clearly a national issue, not just a Colorado fight. The Washington Post puts it succinctly with this headline:

Intense fight over Colorado oil and gas setbacks could end with national precedent

If any state implements a crazy rule like this, intense pressure will be placed on all the other states, as well as the Federal Government, to do likewise.

The results would be catastrophic – at both the state and national level – for oil and natural gas production, jobs and salaries, state and local revenues, pension plans, unemployment compensation and welfare programs, oil and gas exports, national security, and America’s newfound position as a global energy leader.

Let’s hope voters wake up to this pending disaster before November 6.

David Wojick is an independent analyst specializing in science and logic in public policy. He also does confidential research and consulting.

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6 thoughts on “Insane Colorado Anti-Fracking Proposal Would Gut State Economy

  1. The Citizens choose to protect and defend themselves against the negative health impacts to life from the gas industry near their homes, schools and farms.
    Since you can’t seem to understand that, you must not live near or next to gas/fracking/infrastructure…
    and you must be benefiting from it.
    The results won’t be “catastrophic”…people in the fracked areas and States had a life before gas and oil fracking..

    • Vera, you’re dead wrong. Colorado has a booming economy thanks in large part to the O & G industry which has a history going back decades. About 30% of all office space in downtown Denver is leased to entities involved in the O & G business. Take that out of the economy and see what happens to the commercial real estate market…just one example. As accurately stated in the article, every local study, for water and air quality has concluded that there is no or negligible impact on either, despite all the dastardly chemicals being utilized in the process of fracking. CO2 levels are at 25 year lows, despite the industry producing 4-5 times as much oil and gas, this because of the switch to natural gas vs. coal for electrical generation. So there is an inverse relationship to air and water quality…more production, no change. This bill is a wolf in sheep’s wool. It is a statewide ban. While you sit back collecting your pension, working families’ lives will be “catastrophically” affected.

      • Tom, I think you are wasting your cyber breath. She has successfully been indoctrinated and can’t see past her own lack of knowledge about this. I agree with you…a total ban. And if this idiotic law passes, and the law suits start piling up and the State’s coffers start dwindling, it will be repealed…too little, too late. I live in Colorado and will be impacted.

        Vera thinks it’s about health and safety, it is not. If people are that afraid of oil and gas, then why not a half a MILE from every gas station!!!

        All the while she drives a car and lives in a house and uses articles in that house that are made using,and transported by petroleum products, her credibility is in the toilet. When one of these anti O&G people quit using a car and everything else that uses O&G, then I might listen, however they are the perfect example of hypocrites.

        Again Tom, don’t take much notice of this woman….here’s some light reading into her that might be of interest so you know what you are dealing with.
        http://www.maggiesnotebook.com/2014/02/antifracking-vera-scroggins-parental-child-pleasuring-advocate-legally-banned-from-hospital-chinese-resturant-supermarkets-cabot-leases/

  2. Mr. Wojick, thank you for this article. Most posts are related to Pennsylvania and New York so I’m grateful to see someone shining a light on this huge issue here in Colorado. The folks in Denver and Boulder are all about solar and wind without doing the math. They think that somehow by killing O & G development that it will force “green energy” to somehow magically emerge…it’s a mirage. Thanks again.

  3. Vera, you seem to have access to electricity, computers, the Internet: where do you think the power comes from? Fossil fuels, mostly.

    You’re welcome.

    Your friends and neighbors in Susquehanna County seem to doing all right with their jobs and increased tax receipts and cheap electricity. Are you going to move to New England, where the energy costs are high?

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