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DENVER — A proposed initiative that would require a 2,500 feet setback from all new oil and gas development in Colorado has cleared the first hurdle on its the path to the 2018 ballot.
On Friday, a judge approved Initiative 97, a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning statewide minimum distance requirements for new oil and gas development.
Organizers will now have until August 6 to gather more than 98,000 valid signatures for the proposed measure to qualify for the ballot.
The measure would require all new oil and gas development to be located at least 2,500 feet from homes. Currently, 500 feet is the minimum distance from a home and 1,000 feet is the required setback form a school.
Supporters of the proposed measure say pushing oil and gas further away from homes will promote safety and preserve the environment.
"I want to feel safe in my home,” said Suzanne Spiegel, an Initiative 97 organizer. “I want to be able to drink the water and breath the air without worrying it's been poisoned in some way by this industrial activity."
The oil and gas industry opposes the measure. They say the proposed restrictions would cripple the industry and devastate the state’s economy.
“It would essentially eliminate all future oil and gas development,” said Karen Crummy, with Protect Colorado. “Ninety percent of all the surface area for oil and gas down the road would be off limits."