This post is the first in a three part series: 1. Support the Colorado Community Rights Amendment 2. Reality Check: oil, gas, and taxes 3. Sorting Fact from Fiction: a look at oil and gas industry commercials
I have avoided writing — or even looking at my blog site for nearly 10 months. The mud-slinging and mean-spirited discourse on the various Erie Facebook pages have left me wanting to abstain from any online discussion. We need to remember to treat each other with kindness and compassion, no matter how viscerally we disagree. We’re not going to change anyone’s mind by figuratively hitting him/her over the head. It is much better to carry out conversations in person whenever possible; I guarantee the things people type on a keyboard in the heat of the moment are not things they would be willing to say to each other face to face.
So if you like my blog, great. If not, please move on. This is an animosity-free zone.
The Colorado Community Rights Amendment urgently needs your support. In order to be on the ballot this November, Coloradans for Community Rights (CCR) needs to gather 99,000 signatures by August.
The Colorado Community Rights Amendment in and of itself would not ban fracking — or any oil and gas activity for that matter. It would simply give Colorado counties and municipalities the right to make their own rules to promote the safety and well-being of the people that reside within them. For example, if a community wants to impose drilling setbacks of 2000 ft from homes and schools, this amendment would enable them to pass a law to establish that regulation. Likewise, if a town decides to enact a law that would ban all fracking activity within its boundaries, this amendment would allow for that as well.
The Colorado Supreme Court’s recent ruling against the cities of Fort Collins and Longmont highlight why fighting for local control is so important. Although the people of Longmont and Fort Collins had voted in a general election to implement a ban against fracking and fracking waste disposal within city limits, the Court ruled these bans to be “invalid and unenforceable”. The Court determined that state law overrides the rights of its citizens to protect their own health and safety.
Yet, our predecessors made sure that our state constitution protects the sovereignty of the people. Article V states, “the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the general assembly and also reserve power at their own option to approve or reject at the polls any act or item, section, or part of any act of the general assembly.”
You could even argue that fighting for our rights as citizens is our patriotic duty as Coloradans.
Now some of you may be thinking that local communities do not need the ability to pass laws to further regulate drilling and fracking activity because of the relative success Erie has had with entering into an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with oil and gas companies. And certainly, I do not want to diminish the efforts that our Board of Trustees and Mayor have put forth to negotiate stronger regulations and setbacks with Encana. However, our Trustees were frustrated to learn that the COGCC will not enforce 11 of 18 stipulations in Erie’s MOU, meaning that if Encana violates a part of the agreement that the COGCC does not enforce, Erie would be financially responsible for any costs associated with taking Encana to court. As it is, Erie reportedly spent $100,000 in legal fees while negotiating the recent MOU.
From a pragmatic standpoint, spending $100,000 to get Encana to agree to 1000 ft setbacks (among other concessions) is not cost-effective, especially when there is another reasonable option. If the Colorado Community Rights Amendment were to take effect, Erie could simply pass a local law requiring a 1000 ft drilling setback. That is certainly a cheaper, more direct alternative. And that should spur every Erie resident to jump at the chance to sign the petition to put the Colorado Community Rights Amendment on the ballot.
Wondering where and when you can sign the petition? Check out the CCR website. There are also a couple of upcoming events in Erie where there will be an opportunity to sign the petition:
- Sunday June 5 from 1-3 pm at the Erie Community Library
- Saturday June 11 from 8am to 2pm at 635 Moffat Street in old town Erie (in conjunction with the community yard sale and Erie Brewfest).
Our state government has demonstrated that its actions do not reflect the will of the people. Get out there and help yourselves and your community by signing the Colorado Community Rights Amendment petition.