Industry study claims Initiative 97 would cost Colorado billions; measure's proponents push back

DENVER -- The Colorado Alliance of Mineral and Royalty Owners released a new study showing that if Initiative 97 is passed by voters, it would cost Coloradans roughly $26 billion in lawsuits, and its president says its passage would put an end to oil and gas development in Colorado. But the measure’s proponents say that’s not the case.

“It basically shuts down the oil and gas development in the area,” said CAMRO President Neil Ray.

Initiative 97 is a proposed ballot initiative that would prohibit oil and gas developments that aren’t on federal land from operating near occupied buildings less than 2,500 feet away.

Ray is a mineral and royalty owner himself who says owners will be probably fight back the initiative if it becomes a law.

“Mineral and royalty owners would be denied their private property and wouldn't be able to develop their private property, which would lead to regulatory takings law suits and that would bankrupt the state,” he said.

Grassroots organization Colorado Rising, which drafted the initiative, released a lengthy statement disputing the study and its president’s claims:

“This industry funded, highly speculative report has not been peer reviewed and is based completely on false assumptions. The report has no bearing on initiative 97 and is just a scare tactic by an industry that prioritizes its profits above the health and safety of Coloradans. The truth is that initiative 97 creates common sense buffer zones of 2500-feet between toxic industrial fracking operations and our children's schools, playgrounds, homes and water sources.  It is certainly not a fracking ban, nor does it give cities and counties the ability to ban it as the report tries to assert. Current technology enables companies to drill directionally for miles under ground. Keeping wells out of neighborhoods may cost the industry more, but it is clearly the right thing to do in order to protect Colorado families' from deadly explosions and toxic emissions. Every industry operates in this way. You cannot site a marijuana dispensary or a strip mine next to an elementary school, similarly we need safeguards to protect our neighborhoods from this dangerous and highly industrial activity. Clearly Coloradans agree as more than 80 grassroots organizations and elected officials have endorsed the initiative and it currently polls at 69% across the state. The outrageous claims in this report are nothing more than a desperate attempt by the oil and gas industry to maximize profits by cutting corners and disregarding the safety and well-being of our communities.”

If the Colorado Rising collects the required signatures, the initiative will be go on the ballot for the upcoming November election.

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