Garfield County, Colorado commissioners push back on setback ballot question
September 17, 2018
With what is expected to be a packed state and local ballot this year, Garfield County voters now know how their county commissioners will vote on Ballot Measure 112, if they didn't already.
The measure would impose a 2,500-foot setback on oil and gas operations throughout the state. The local commissioners on Monday, at Commissioner Tom Jankovsky's urging, unanimously agreed to oppose the measure, and are encouraging other voters to do the same.
"I don't see any benefits to this," Jankovsky said as they discussed the ballot measure. "I think it's important that we pass this resolution."
Since the last time the commissioners discussed the initiative in August, advocates got an estimated 123,000 signatures, well over the 98,492 required, to put the question on the ballot.
Current setback rules, established by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2013, established a 500-foot statewide setback rule, as well as a 1,000-foot setback from high occupancy buildings such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals.
The question that will appear on the November ballot will ask for a 2,500-foot setback between natural gas and oil sites and any occupied structures, including homes, schools and hospitals, as well as other "vulnerable areas."
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"This is a gun to our head," Jankovsky said. "If this goes through, communities in Parachute and Rifle would go into another recession."
According to an analysis done by the COGCC, the ballot initiative would prohibit oil and gas development on 99.8 percent of Garfield County private lands based on proximity to occupied structures and vulnerable areas.
Supporters have argued that the measure would only apply to new oil and gas wells and related facilities, and not existing ones. However, opponents have questioned that assertion, saying any re-worked oil and gas sites could also fall under the new rules, if imposed by voters.