Hickenlooper stands with industry, business groups against Polis’ initiatives

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper joins business and industry representatives last week in opposition to two local control ballot measures.

DENVER — One day after announcing that there won’t be a special legislative session to pass a compromise bill on the local control of oil and gas drilling, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper stood with more than 100 industry and business leaders Thursday in opposition to two local control ballot initiatives.

The press conference at the Lower Downtown offices of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce brought together a number of groups that supported Hickenlooper’s effort to reach a legislative compromise, including Colorado Concern and the state’s largest oil and gas operators, and those, like the American Petroleum Institute, that fought against it.

The compromise was an attempt to avoid an expensive and unpredictable campaign fight over the two ballot measures, which are being supported financially by Democratic Boulder Congressman Jared Polis.

Now that the compromise has failed, Hickenlooper, along with Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff, are joining the industry in opposition to the initiatives, which would quadruple setbacks and enshrine an environmental bill of rights in the state constitution.

“It’s clear these initiatives will kill jobs and damage our state’s economy. The oil and gas industry can operate safely, but it will be crippled if these measures pass,” said Hickenlooper, a former oil and gas geologist.

“These are radical ideas that have no place in our state constitution. We are committed to doing whatever it takes to defeat them.”

Polis has until Aug. 4 to gather the 86,000 signatures necessary to get each initiative on the November ballot.

Coloradans For Responsible Reform, the coalition of groups opposing the initiatives financed largely by API, is expected to spend some $50 million this fall to defeat the measures, a campaign that many Democrats fear will boost Republican turnout in what’s already a challenging election cycle.