August 15 2016
Jillian Kay Melchior
Anti-fracking activists in Colorado are struggling to get enough valid signatures to secure a spot for their proposals on November’s ballot.
One of the measures would strengthen municipalities’ ability to ban fracking, while the other would impose geographical limits on it, prohibiting drilling within 2,500 feet of hospitals, parks and other high-traffic locations.
But as CBS’s Denver affiliate reports, the two anti-fracking petitions have thus far gained only 105,000 signatures, making it incredibly unlikely they’ll end up in front of voters:
With an average rejection rate of about 30 percent, that would mean there are not enough valid signatures to get on the ballot.
The outcome won’t be known until early next month, but former Secretary of State Scott Gessler said it would be unprecedented if they were to make it.
“For them to be able to do that would require a level of sophistication — a level of up front work to make sure their signatures were absolutely correct to begin with — that has never occurred in Colorado for a ballot initiative,” Gessler said.
Though Colorado has long been viewed as a battleground state for fracking policy, environmentalists have fewer resources in this latest go-round, especially compared to their 2014 campaign. Politico reports:
The anti-fracking campaign, meanwhile, had raised just $424,000 as of Aug. 1, including $25,000 from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), the wealthy entrepreneur-turned-lawmaker. (That’s just a 30th of what he donated to 2014’s anti-fracking campaign.) After the most recent campaign finance reports were filed with the Colorado secretary of state, the Sierra Club gave $150,000, making it the largest single reported contributor to the anti-fracking effort.
Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who spent $8.5 million in Colorado during the 2014 election, has not donated to the anti-fracking campaign, and there are no signs he plans to get involved if the measures make the ballot. The League of Conservation Voters' Colorado chapter has endorsed one of the two initiatives but is not committing money. The Environmental Defense Fund is also sitting out the effort.
Even though fracking restrictions are floundering at a state level, Colorado green groups do have one significant hope: Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have come out in favor of local bans on energy extraction.