Published in Colorado Politics on July 30, 2020

Regarding Gov. Polis’ recent announcement that he has worked with both the oil and gas industry and environmental groups to withdraw ballot measures in 2020 and prevent future ballot measures through 2022: The 32 environmental groups that make up the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (CCLC) wish to clarify that not one of our groups was included in those “conversations” (“Give pivotal new oil and gas law a chance,” July 24). The governor also failed to contact Safe & Healthy Colorado and Colorado Rising, the only two environmental groups directly involved in pursuing ballot measures this year.

Our member groups also strongly disagree with the governor’s opinions about the low value of ballot measures and the effectiveness of the implementation of SB-181. The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission’s disastrous handling of SB-181 during its weak rule making attempts has only been effective in allowing the oil and gas industry to continue their status-quo, harmful drilling activities nearly unabated. For example, the current proposed setback rulemaking by COGCC is lacking in scientific basis and is offensive to frontline communities that have been voicing their suffering for years. What has been proposed is not an improvement from the current inadequate and harmful setback distance.

It has been 15 months since SB-181 was signed into law, yet fracking still continues in force near the front steps of our homes, schools and throughout our communities. Permits for increased drilling in vulnerable areas continue to pass through the COGCC with ease. The harmful emissions from fracking continue to degrade the health of tens of thousands of Coloradans.

How long does the governor expect Coloradans to wait? He leaves us no choice but to continue to put ballot measures in place to address this violation. Without immediate, meaningful change in regulations that are in compliance with the law, expect to see our member organizations strongly supporting ballot measures in 2022 in order to enact protections for public health and safety that the governor and the COGCC have failed to provide.

Leslie Weise