DENVER – Talks aimed at brokering a compromise to allow increased local control over oil and gas drilling operations have failed, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s (D-Colorado) office reported Wednesday.
The governor’s office says there will be no special session – as Hickenlooper had hoped – to pass a compromise law on fracking.
“Despite our best efforts and those of other willing partners,” the governor said in a written statement. “We have not been able to secure the broader stakeholder support necessary to pass bipartisan legislation in a special session.”
That news all but ensures Colorado voters will have the opportunity to weigh in with a statewide vote on fracking this year, a follow-up to local ballot questions which have halted the practice in four Front Range communities.
Hickenlooper wanted to avoid that vote, trying to continue negotiations even after this year’s legislative session wrapped up. He admitted at that time it was a heavy lift.
“On both sides there’s a part of each constituency, they are raring for the fight,” Hickenlooper said in May. “They think they’ll win and they think it’s going to help their candidates.”
It’s a serious loss for Hickenlooper on a couple of fronts.
“No. 1, he put a lot of political capital into this, he worked hard on it. It failed,” 9NEWS political analyst Floyd Ciruli said. “It’s a leadership question and [Republican challenger Bob] Beauprez will clearly take advantage of it.”
The issue is also poised to divide Democrats in a contentious election year, with top-of-ticket candidates like Hickenlooper supporting the oil and gas industry despite strong sentiment against fracking among environmentalists in the party’s base.