U.S. News

Colorado's anti-fracking measures fail to qualify for ballot

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Environmental groups have failed to gather enough signatures to put two measures on Colorado’s ballot in November that aim to curb fracking and oil and gas work, the state said on Monday.

The ballot initiatives would have transferred regulatory control of oil and gas development to local governments and created more stringent setback requirements to keep new oil and gas facilities further away from occupied structures.

Proponents gathered more than 98,492 signatures required to make the ballot, the state said, but failed to gather enough to offset the number that would possibly be rejected during a random sample that examines the validity of the signatures.

Proponents of the measures have 30 days to appeal the decision.

Earlier this year, the state’s Supreme Court struck down local fracking bans approved in the cities of Fort Collins and Longmont.

Oil companies in Colorado, one of the top U.S. oil and gas producing states, had spent several million dollars trying to derail the campaign.

Protect Colorado, the industry-backed issues committee fighting the measures, praised the outcome in a statement released Monday morning.

“Colorado voters recognized that these extreme measures would destroy the state’s economy and take away private property rights,” said Karen Crummy, communications director for Protecting Colorado’s Economy, Environment, and Energy Independence, a group aligned with the oil and gas industry.

“Yes for Health and Safety over Fracking,” the group backing the ballot initiatives, said it was reviewing the ruling to determine whether to file a challenge.

“Today’s announcement is not the final action on this issue as countless residents are now committed to protecting their children’s schools, parks and homes,” said Tricia Olson, executive director for the anti-fracking issues committee.

She added that the group had “faced an unprecedented $15 million anti-signature campaign funded by the oil and gas industry.”

Reporting by Terry Wade and Liz Hampton; Editing by David Gregorio and Bernadette Baum