DENVER — Colorado Concern, an organization of more than 100 area CEOs, is now supporting the actual draft legislation, which has been revised slightly, aimed at engineering a compromise on local control of oil and gas drilling.
The group, which stated its broad support for a legislative solution earlier this month but stopped short of endorsing the proposal itself, sent a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper Tuesday afternoon expressing its support for the “current draft of the compromise statute.”
“It strikes the right balance between the critical need to protect jobs and the economy while enhancing our already strong environmental safeguards for oil and gas development,” says the letter signed by Colorado Concern Chairman Pat Hamill and CEO Tamra Ward.
“It also shields the agreements current surface owners have with local governments around the state.”
Sources confirm to FOX31 Denver that the draft legislation, first floated earlier this month, has been tweaked slightly after input from the industry, business community and home-builders. The revised bill includes new language aimed at protecting home-builders who have invested in projects from being adversely impacted by local regulations restricting oil and gas drilling.
The language may help secure broader support for the compromise outside the Capitol and inside the state senate, where backers of the proposal are still struggling to find the 18 votes needed to pass the measure.
It’s unclear whether Boulder Congressman Jared Polis would agree to the revisions and hold firm to his agreement to pull his funding from a series of local control ballot initiatives that are on pace to make the November ballot.
Tuesday night’s vote in Loveland on a two-year moratorium on fracking there could provide further impetus for reluctant Republicans, industry members and environmentalists all holding fast to opposed policy positions to give ground and rally around a compromise as a way to avoid an expensive fight over the ballot measures, which, if approved by voters, could devastate the industry by imposing a 1,500 foot setback requirement via the state constitution.
If Gov. Hickenlooper can find enough support for the revised proposal, he’s likely to call a special legislative session in order to pass the bill.
“We believe that a statutory change, which can be amended or updated easily by future sessions of the General Assembly, is preferable to adding yet another Amendment to the state Constitution, which is far harder to amend or repeal,” Colorado Concern states in its letter.
“This sensibly crafted compromise has earned our support, and we urge legislators in both parties to come together on behalf of Colorado’s economy and enact it this summer.”