What are Setbacks?

May 1, 2018

What are Setbacks?

“Setback” is a common term here in Colorado in the context of oil and natural gas, but not many people know exactly what a setback is or why it’s important for responsible oil and natural gas development. In short, setbacks are the required distance between drilling rigs and homes, schools, and other buildings and is one of the many reasons Colorado has some of the toughest setback regulations in the nation.

(Want to learn more about Colorado’s existing regulations? Find answers to more questions here.)

Colorado’s tough regulations require companies to work with local governments when planning oil and natural gas development and effectively protect the environment and the health and safety of all Coloradans. If Coloradans can’t responsibly access oil and natural gas on state land, they may be forced to rely on federal lands to meet their energy needs, further opening the door to development on some of the state’s most pristine public lands.

What’s at Stake?

Over the last seven years, Colorado has continuously improved the state’s oil and natural gas regulations so that they are some of the strictest regulations in the nation.

Today, activists are fighting for a measure so extreme that it increases setbacks to five times the distance of what is currently required, which effectively bans oil and natural gas development in the state, costing tens of thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions in tax revenue, and would ripple through all segments of the economy.

What is Initiative 97?

Initiative 97 tells private property owners what they can and cannot do with their own land. This measure is so extreme that it increases setbacks to five times the distance of what is currently required, which effectively bans oil and natural gas development in the state, costing tens of thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions in tax revenue, and would ripple through all segments of the economy. A recent study released by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR) and the REMI partnership also reinforces an analysis conducted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee showing that the setback measure would put 85% of the state off limits to new oil and natural gas development.

This setback measure also has the unintended consequence of empowering the state or any local government to designate additional vulnerable areas not included in the current definition. The door for lawsuits will be left wide open due to the ambiguity of the language in this measure.

What Happens if Initiative 97 Succeeds?

If initiative 97 succeeds, communities across Colorado will lose more than $1 billion dollars annually in revenues that are critical to state and local governments, schools and special districts. In fact, oil and natural gas contributed $839 million to K-12 schools in 2015 and 2016, 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.

Additionally, if Coloradans can’t responsibly access oil and natural gas on state land, they may be forced to rely on federal lands to meet their energy needs, further opening the door to development on some of the state’s most pristine public lands.

Here’s what that impact could look like…

If the setbacks measure wins, Colorado loses. Initiative 97 would eliminate over 200,000 jobs and make 85% of Colorado off limits to new natural gas and oil development.

In the Denver-Julesburg Basin, almost 78% of the available surface area would be subject to drilling bans and redevelopment of existing sites with new technologies. Not only would oil and natural gas production in Weld County – the state’s top energy-producing county – be devastated, there would also be no room to offset that production from other parts of Colorado.

Take Action

Maintaining responsible and reliable production of oil and natural gas right here at home means we rely less on unstable, hostile foreign regimes. A 2,500-foot setback would not only severely limit Colorado’s energy production, it will make our energy security harder to achieve.

Don’t be fooled: The proposed setbacks measure would mean a ban on new oil and natural gas production in Colorado.

Before you cast your vote this November, find out how these proposed measures would impact our state. Make sure to share the facts with your family and friends.

Click here to take action.