Protect Colorado Ready to Challenge the Validity of Signatures Supporting Initiative 97

August 6, 2018

Protect Colorado Ready to Challenge the Validity of Signatures Supporting Initiative 97


Karen Crummy

Denver – Protect Colorado announced Monday that it was ready to challenge the validity of the signatures submitted in support of a 2,500-foot setback measure for oil and natural gas development that would destroy the state’s economy, cut tens of thousands of jobs and eliminate billions in tax revenue to the state and local communities.

“We are prepared to challenge the validity of these signatures to ensure that they are accurate, valid and that they were obtained by following all the proper laws, including that the signature gatherers were properly certified to carry petitions,” said Scott Gessler, attorney for Protect Colorado. 

Chip Rimer, chairman of Protect Colorado, said he believed Colorado voters would not support the measure at the ballot box when they saw the impact it would have on the state.

“Regardless of the outcome, we are confident people see this measure for what it is, an extreme proposal funded by those in Boulder and Washington, D.C. who do not have Coloradans best interests in mind,” Rimer said.  “This measure will devastate the state of Colorado by destroying over 100,000 jobs over the next decade, eliminate billions in state revenues, and negatively impact essential services such as health care, education, transportation, fire and safety.”

The measure was promoted by Colorado Rising, an extreme Boulder group financially backed by Washington, D.C. -based Food and Water Watch, which is dedicated to banning oil and natural gas development in Colorado.

Two recent studies show the measure was intended to eliminate oil and natural gas development and would create significant economic hardships for Coloradans.

At least 85 percent of all new oil and natural gas development on non-federal lands would be off limits, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.   More than 94 percent non-federal land in the state’s top five producing oil and natural gas counties (Weld, Garfield, La Plata, Rio Blanco and Las Animas) would be unavailable for new production.

Additionally, a study released on July 27, 2018 by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable showed that Initiative 97 would result in the loss of as many as 147,800 jobs in the next 12 years, and only 23 percent of the impacted jobs would be from the oil and gas sector.  The 77 percent remaining jobs at risk are:

  • 12,000–16,000 retail jobs
  • 9,000–12,000 health care jobs
  • 8,000–10,000 construction jobs
  • 7,000–9,000 hotel and food service jobs
  • 7,000–9,000 local government jobs, including teachers
  • 4,000–6,000 real estate jobs

The study also found Colorado’s economy would lose between $169 billion to $217 billion over 12 years, and during that same time period, the reduction of state and local tax revenue would be between $7 billion and $9 billion. This revenue is critical for state and local governments, schools and special districts to pay for everything from new parks to police and fire departments to road improvements.

Communities across the state receive about $1 billion dollars annually in oil and natural gas revenues that are critical to state and local governments, schools and special districts. Oil and natural gas contributed $839 million to K-12 schools in 2015 and 2016, according to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.  And over the past eight years, the industry sent $615 million in severance tax to municipalities and counties for everything from new parks and recreational centers to funding public safety of local police and fire departments, and road improvements.