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    Frack No? Colorado Set to Vote on Two Anti-Fracking Measures

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    Two initiatives have officially been added to the November ballot in Colorado: the first gives local governments the power to ban the practice in their own communities, and the second expands the minimum distance that oil and gas operations must be located from existing structures.

    Environmental groups behind the effort, led by Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development, announced on Monday that both initiatives gathered far more than the required 98,492 signatures needed to qualify for a spot on the ballot, collecting over 200,000 in five months. They still needed to pass verification by the Secretary of State’s office, verifying the signatures were legitimate.

    On Thursday, the Secretary of State’s office announced that the initiatives will be included on the November ballot.

    "I am thrilled that the people of Colorado will have their voices heard," Tricia Olson, the Health and Safety Over Fracking executive director said in a statement. "I am so, so grateful to our hundreds and hundreds of Colorado volunteers and to the organizations that stepped forward."

    The measures are in response to the Colorado Supreme Court striking down fracking bans implemented by two cities last year, claiming that local voter decisions are pre-empted by state laws.

    The first of the two initiatives would strengthen “setback” rules in the state, meaning new oil and gas facilities must be placed a minimum of 2,500 feet from structures, including parks. The initiative would protect some 90% of the state’s surface area from oil and gas development projects.

    The second environmental initiative shifts regulatory control of new developments to local governments, to prevent a reoccurrence of what happened last year in Fort Collins and Longmont, and would reinstate those ordinances.

    The initiatives are heavily opposed by the petroleum industry, who have shoveled millions of dollars into a counter-coalition somewhat misleadingly titled “Protect Colorado,” whose website calls the initiatives “irresponsible.” The industry lobby also suggests that they will sue, making poorly-veiled claims that passing the measures "could threaten private property rights and could even cost Colorado residents hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits."

    “Energy companies Anadarko Petroleum Corp and Noble Energy Inc in the past month each increased their contributions to [Protect Colorado] by $2.5 million, bringing their total donations to $6.55 million and $5 million, respectively, according to the latest campaign finance filing,” Reuters reported earlier this week.


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