Oil/Gas Development Limits and a Healthy Environment Among Many Ballot Measures Shaping Up for 2016

The backers of proposed constitutional amendments to regulate the oil and gas industry got the nod from the Secretary of state that they can begin collecting voter signatures to try to get the issues on the 2016 general election ballot, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced last week.

Among the measures approved for signature gathering is measure to allow local government regulation of oil-and-gas development.  Earlier last week, the same proponents were notified they had completed the necessary steps to begin collecting signatures for yet another proposed constitutional amendment, No. 78, dealing with mandatory setback requirements for oil-and gas development.

Proponents of that measure also got the go-ahead for signature collection on another proposal, dealing with the “right to a healthy environment.”

The language of proposed Initiative 63, “Right to Healthy Environment:”

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning natural persons’ fundamental right to a healthy environment and, in connection therewith, defining “healthy environment” as safe and sustainable conditions for human life, including healthy air, water, land, and ecological systems; requiring state and local governments to assign the highest priority to protecting a healthy environment; allowing local governments to enact laws that are protective of a healthy environment; stating that such a local law governs over a state law that is less protective of a healthy environment; allowing natural persons and governmental entities to sue to enforce the fundamental right to a healthy environment; and awarding reasonable costs of litigation upon determination that a violation has occurred.

The language for proposed Initiative 75, Local government authority to regulate oil-and-gas development:”

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning local government regulation of oil and gas development and, in connection therewith, authorizing local governments to prohibit, limit, or impose moratoriums on oil and gas development; authorizing local laws and regulations that are more restrictive of oil and gas development and at least as protective of a community’s health, safety, welfare, and environment as state law; and prohibiting the state from preempting any local laws or regulations that prevent or mitigate local impacts from oil and gas development.

The language for proposed Initiative 78, Mandatory setback for oil and gas development

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a statewide setback requirement for new oil and gas development facilities, and, in connection therewith, changing setback requirements to require any new oil and gas development facility in the state to be located at least 2,500 feet from the nearest occupied structure or other specified or locally designated area and authorizing the state or a local government to require new oil and gas development facilities to be located more than 2,500 feet from the nearest occupied structure.

Proponents of the ballot measures have an Aug. 8 deadline to turn in 98,492 valid voter signatures, which is 5 percent of the total votes cast for all candidates for Secretary of State in the last general election.

Other measures where supporters have had their petition formats approved for collecting signatures:

  • Local governance: 40
  • Iran divestment of public funds:  47
  • Independent Ethics Commission: 53
  • Voter registration: 57
  • Mandatory setback for oil/gas development: 78
  • Food store licenses: 104105 and 106

Already on the ballot is Amendment 69/Proposed Initiative 20 or State Health Care System. Backers were informed last November they had collected enough valid vote signatures to put it before voters.

The NCLA Board of Directors will take positions on all ballot measures qualified for the November 2106 ballot.  The process for the NCLA taking positions on ballot measures is different than that for legislative proposals. In this case, after presentations to the NCLA Board of Directors by the proponents and opponents of the proposed measures, the NCLA Board formally recommends a position to the Boards of Directors of our member organizations.   Those Boards then ratify or reject the NCLA recommendation.  If ratified by all, the position becomes the official position of the NCLA and all of our member organizations.  If one or more of the Boards reject the recommendation, the issue is revisited by the NCLA Board to determine if a consensus can be reached on a position.  If we are unable to reach a consensus, 2/3 plus one position, the issue reverts to the individual member organizations to take their own position on the measure.

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