Denver Business Journal Viewpoint: Polis blinked but the fight continues

By: Kittie Hook

American writer Rita Mae Brown once said, “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” She must have been talking about politics.

At the last possible moment, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that a framework had been reached whereby Rep. Jared Polis’s anti-energy initiatives would be withdrawn. In exchange for Polis backing down, the oil and gas industry withdrew measures it was backing as well and a commission will be convened to facilitate the stakeholder process.

Overall, we are pleased that these dangerous measures are no longer on the ballot, yet the fight for our state’s energy future rages on. We know that Polis and his supporters are not going away, and there is a good chance they will renew their efforts down the road if not satisfied.

In fact, Rep. Polis is actually under fire from Boulder fractivists for withdrawing his measures. While he ultimately came to his senses, they have not and are undoubtedly looking for a new champion with deep pockets to take Polis’ place.

Since this latest confrontation over fracking has put Colorado on the map, we can bet that billionaire donors from Tom Steyer to celebrities like Mark Ruffalo and Yoko Ono will be turning their sights and their money towards Colorado.

To assume that the dust has settled and that the fight is over would be naïve. Fractivists disappointed with Polis’ decision will continue their own offensive on oil and gas development in Colorado both at the state Capitol and at the local municipal level.

Also part of the Hickenlooper’s deal with Polis was a provision that the state would drop its lawsuit against the city of Longmont over its oil and gas regulations.

This leaves the door open for regulatory chaos. The last thing Colorado needs is a situation where 271 municipalities and 64 counties can create their own regulations. That kind of environment repels investment and job growth.

That is why Vital for Colorado remains committed to engaging at the grassroots level and educating Colorado businesses and citizens about the importance of sensible energy development, which is too important to the state’s economy, national security and each of us as individuals.

From the outset of this debate, our members have been seeking a sound, sensible and certain framework for how to regulate oil and gas in Colorado while at the same time honoring the rigorous regulations we already have in place.

The agreement announced by the governor brought us the resolution our coalition requested two weeks ago — the withdrawal of ballot initiatives proposed by Polis. It also affirmed that the best way forward is to continue honoring the robust regulatory stakeholder process.

We hope that Polis will continue to engage in this process even when it encounters bumps in the road, which will no doubt happen any time the stakes are this high.

To those who refuse to work within Colorado’s existing regulatory regime, know this: your assault on our energy, economy, and jobs will not go unanswered.

To all who will work together through efforts such as the governor’s commission, please, don’t let it be at the last minute … again.

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