Two controversial Colorado ballot measures that would put the screws to the state’s oil and gas industry seem poised for easy passage if backers can gather enough signatures, according to a poll recently released to the Denver Post.
Voters were surveyed as to their feelings on two possible measures, one which would require oil and gas operations only be conducted at a distance of 2,000 feet from occupied buildings, an increase of 1,500 feet over current regulations; and one that would add an “environmental bill of rights” to the state constitution.
The poll, conducted by Beneson Strategy Group in May, was only just released for strategic reasons, Rick Ridder, spokesman for Coloradans for Safe and Clean Energy, told the Denver Post.
“As we’re getting increased support, our funders wanted to see some new data,” he said. “We are confident there is public support for these initiatives, which we’re moving forward on.”
Indeed, the poll would indicate support for the measures is high. On the question of increased setbacks, the Post reported, 64 percent supported the idea, compared to 21 percent opposed.
As for the environmental bill of rights — which allows local governments to pass more restrictive measures than the state to ensure clean air and water — the measure passed 64-27 percent.
What makes the poll unique is that questioners asked the question again, this time including negative statements about the impacts of the measures used by their critics.
Support remained strong, with 56 percent of those polled still supporting the increased setbacks and 35 percent opposed.
The margin was similar on the environmental bill of rights issue, passing by 52-34 percent.
“Clearly voters recognize the need for a 2,000-foot setback and an environmental bill of rights,” Ridder told the Post.
Democratic Rep. Jared Polis supports both ballot measures. Critics say they would be devastating to the economy and cost jobs, and state Democrats — led by Gov. John Hickenlooper — have been trying to find support for a compromise measure to be passed in a special session of the legislature.
But the deadline for the initiatives’ backers to turn in 86,105 valid signatures is Aug. 4 and so far, support for a compromise bill is proving elusive.
“At some point we are going to run out of time,” Democratic House Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst told the Post last week.
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