Last Ditch Attempt to Avoid Fracking Fight a Futile Move

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Dominic Dezzutti By Dominic Dezzutti
CBSDenver.com Blogger
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Many ideas and concepts are attempted during the last week of every legislative session. Some of the concepts fail because they are not good ideas but many more fall victim to the fact that there is not enough time to build the coalitions and mold the legislation into the final form needed for passage.

The latter is what the possible legislation to head off potential fracking ban ballot issues at the pass will suffer from, if it gets formed at all.

Headlines this week reported that Republican state lawmakers are open to some compromise on proposals to beef up local control on noise and setback issues for fracking. But with less than a week to go and no widespread industry coalitions to speak of, the odds are long for a feasible bill to land on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk.

Many talented, hard-working journalists are burning the midnight oil alongside lawmakers this week, providing the in-depth play by play of the session’s final days. However, details of possible proposals or progress reports on how coalition forming is going are not needed to figure out that a compromise is not likely.

Another headline this week told all of us everything we needed to know about the potential of avoiding a heavy weight title bout at the 2014 ballot box.

Coloradans for Responsible Reform, a coalition of over 55 organizations, including the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, announced that its members have come together again to fight a ballot issue. CFRR has come together from time to time over the past few election cycles to defeat or pass certain ballot proposals, and they have a strong track record of success.

CFRR’s track record is no guarantee of success against the expected fracking ban ballot proposals coming this fall, but it shows you that both sides of the issue are building for a fight, not peace talks at the legislature.

Frankly, neither side has much motivation to approach any legislative compromise. The last time a “great compromise” was crafted by Hickenlooper, activists and communities quickly pursued local bans anyway and were promptly sued by the state for not adhering to the new regulations.

I cannot imagine that either side truly believes that there is a compromise that both the oil and gas industry and environmentalists can agree upon at this point.

Most activists are not looking for increased setback space or noise regulations, they are looking to stop the practice altogether. Since that cannot be an option for the industry, the only solution for businesses is to get ready for a fight.

Everyone knows that the oil and gas industry won’t have a problem raising money, but the problem it does traditionally have is building community coalitions. Groups like Coloradans for Responsible Reform address that exact issue.

Environmentalists are not backing down from the 12 ballot issues already proposed, even if legislators are talking compromise. National money to support fracking bans is already pouring in.

As a person who truly values compromise, I appreciate what our state lawmakers are considering during these final days of the 2014 session. But the signs are clear that any energy legislators spend on drafting ideas is wasted energy.

The fight is coming, it will be epic and to pretend it can be avoided is naïve.

Dominic Dezzutti’s Latest Blog Entries

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.

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