DENVER – Environmentalists and the governor’s office have crafted a last-minute deal that they hope will withdraw all proposed ballot initiatives to restrict fracking for the November election, potentially defusing a political time bomb that had driven a wedge between liberal and pro-business Democrats.
Not all necessary parties have agreed to make the agreement happen, however.
The deal, which Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) has been attempting to broker for months, would avoid a costly campaign battle over the issue and the potential of more restrictive measures against oil and gas drilling in the form of a ballot question.
The announcement was made during a press conference Monday at the state capitol. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) called the governor’s announcement a “framework” but did not commit fully to the ballot initiatives being removed.
If this deal goes through, no special session will be called to enact new rules on oil and gas as part of the deal.
Instead, a blue-ribbon panel would be assembled to recommend bills for next year’s legislative session, made up of representatives from local communities, the oil and gas industry, and local government officials.
This would avoid a pair of questions (initiatives 88 and 89) to restrict fracking, which had political and financial backing from Rep. Polis.
The deal is not final, with the governor stressing that a pair of pro-industry ballot questions, filed as initiatives 121 and 137 must also be withdrawn.