March 20, 2014 By Colorado Observer Staff
Local communities that ban oil and gas development would be blocked from receiving tax revenues collected from those efforts in other parts of the state under a new ballot initiative filed Thursday by state lawmakers.
State Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling) and Rep. Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) say their ballot question for the November election would ensure that energy funds are returned to the communities where it is generated and not misdirected to those that oppose energy development.
“While only a small handful of liberal communities have taken the draconian, anti-science step of banning hydraulic fracturing and energy development, the policy is an important one – if you adopt Sierra Club type energy bans that hurt our communities and our schools, don’t expect energy revenues to pick up your tab,” said former House Speaker McNulty.
“Boulder and Ft. Collins can and should pay for those services themselves,” McNulty said.
Citing state economists, the lawmakers said that severance tax revenues have surged because of advances in hydraulic fracturing. From 2012 through 2013 the state collected $138 million in severance taxes, an amount that is expected to peak at $275 million by 2016.
Currently, cities and counties must request the funding for certain programs through the Department of Local Affairs.
The lawmakers said that in recent years, those same communities that ardently oppose oil and gas development within their jurisdictions such as Boulder, Longmont and Ft. Collins, are also the ones most eager to claim the tax dollars.