Hickenlooper slams oil and gas ballot initiatives; backers confident

(Photo: CPR/Megan Verlee)
<p>A gas well in Garfield county, north of the disputed leases in the White River National Forest.</p>
Photo: Oil and gas rig near home (AP Photo)
This photo taken June 9, 2014 shows a horse named Primo grazing in front of the home of local resident Joann Aramillo, with an oil and gas rig on a well pad visible a few hundred yards away, top right, in New Castle, a small farming and ranching settlement on the Western Slope of the Rockies, in Colo.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is stressing his opposition to two ballot initiatives that restrict oil and gas development.

The governor spoke out a day after he abandoned the effort to find a legislative compromise to keep the measures off the November ballot.

Hickenlooper stood with more than 100 representatives from business and community groups as he denounced the proposed initiatives Thursday, warning they could cost Colorado jobs and tax revenue.

The governor said he hopes the measures, which have both Republican and Democratic opposition, aren’t used as a partisan issue in this election.

"I think the potential damage to the state’s economy is sufficiently significant that everyone should be concerned about it," Hickenlooper says.

Amendment 88 would require a 2,000 foot setback between drill rigs and homes.

"...to preserve the public's health, safety, welfare, and the environment, the people desire to establish a statewide setback requiring new oil and gas wells be located away from occupied structures, including homes, schools and hospitals."

Amendment 89 creates an Environmental Bill of Rights, giving local governments more power to limit energy development.

"To facilitate the conservation of Colorado's environment, local governments have the power to enact laws, regulations, ordinances, and charter provisions that are more restrictive and protective of the environment than laws or regulations enacted or adopted by the state government. If any local law or regulation enacted or adopted pursuant to this article conflicts with a state law or regulation, the more restrictive and protective law or regulation governs."

Mara Sheldon, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Safe. Clean. Colorado., says her group is well on its way to having enough signatures to meet an Aug. 4 deadline.

"We’re being very aggressive about getting petitions signed across the state. We fully expect 88 and 89 to go on the ballot in November."