DENVER — Initiative 97 is creating a lot of questions, and it's only officially been on the November ballot since Wednesday.
The ballot issue will ask voters to approve a farther distance for future oil and gas operations.
A YES vote means you want new oil and gas operations on state-owned or privately-owned land to be more than 2,500 feet away from homes, schools, hospitals, buildings, but also "vulnerable areas" defined as playgrounds, lakes, reservoirs and streams.
A NO vote means the current regulations would remain unchanged. Oil and gas operations must be more than 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools.
No matter how you vote, it does not impact oil and gas operations on federal land in Colorado.
A yes vote only impacts new oil and gas operations. Current active operations would not have to move if Initiative 97 passes. However, inactive sites that want to be turned back on, would have to abide by whatever limit is currently in law at that time.
NEXT received feedback from a viewer who thought our color-coded 2,500-foot setback map from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee was biased because the map was provided by the oil and gas industry. That's not true. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee represent the state regulators of the oil and gas industry. The COGCC is a function of the Colorado Division of Natural Resources, which is a government department.
Ann emailed us the following question:
"I think it would be very helpful to have Marshall tell us what the current regulations are. My thinking is that it’s 1000 feet from the entrance door to school and I thought it should be 1000 feet from the school boundary. Can you have them straighten that out for us."
Ann, the current setback regulations are measured from the "wall or the corner of the nearest building." However, there is a proposal up for discussion at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to change the measurement from the wall of the building to the edge of the property line.
Ralph emailed us the following:
"I feel the industry is being a little misleading and using scare tactics, but this is just beginning of their battle. They state that if the proposal passes, 90% of the lands in Colorado will be placed off-limits to development. This may be technically true, but they are not saying that probably 90% of the land (if that much) in Colorado is not potentially productive for oil and gas."
We took that question to the state regulators at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, but did not get a definitive answer.
"This is a difficult, if not impossible, question to answer due to the constantly changing technical and economic landscape of Oil and Gas (Exploration and Production)," a COGCC senior research scientist told us via email.
Keep your questions coming. You can reach political reporter Marshall Zelinger at firstname.lastname@example.org