The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Initiative 97 Would Be A Disaster for Colorado

Tracee Bentley

Tracee Bentley
Posted August 2, 2018

We’ve spelled out the potential dangers to Colorado energy production and the state economy posed by Initiative 97, a measure backed by environmental extremists that would require an extraordinary, 2,500-foot buffer zone between natural gas and oil development and occupied structures and “vulnerable” areas (see here and here). With backers nearing a deadline to collect just over 98,000 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot, those negative impacts are even starker.

As we’ve noted, Initiative 97’s setback provisions would make 85 percent of non-federal land off-limits to natural gas and oil development. While the signature-gathering effort has faced its own setbacks (pun intended), if passed any new production would come to a grinding halt. Again, a significant negative turn for a state that ranks in the top 10 nationally for both natural gas and oil output.

The economic impact looks like this: Colorado natural gas and oil industry currently supports over 232,900 jobs and provides $31.4 billion per year in economic benefit to the state. Initiative 97 would decimate both. A study by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable estimates that the state could suffer a loss of 100,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in tax revenue by 2030.

It gets worse. A study commissioned by the Colorado Alliance of Mineral and Royalty Owners (CAMRO) estimates that Initiative 97’s passage could strand an incomprehensible $180 billion in natural resources and could cost mineral rights owners- thousands of regular Coloradoans – up to $26 billion.

The initiative’s unreasonable restrictions have garnered criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a Democrat who served in President Obama’s administration, called the measure “fundamentally unconstitutional” during the Colorado Petroleum Council’s annual State of Colorado Energy luncheon last week.

In this year’s Colorado gubernatorial race, both Republican Walker Stapleton and Democrat Jared Polis have come out in opposition to Initiative 97, with Polis calling for any increase in setbacks to be discussed on a case-by-case basis. It seems that anyone who actually understands the impact of this detrimental measure cannot get away from it quickly enough.

The passage of Initiative 97 could be devastating for Colorado, wrecking the future of the state’s natural gas and oil industry and risking an economic crater in the state economy. If the measure qualifies for November’s ballot, then there won’t be an issue with more broad reaching impacts, affecting both the pocketbook and quality of life for every Coloradan and demanding of your attention - because the livelihood of the state is too important to spoil with disastrous proposals like this one.


Tracee Bentley was named executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council in 2015. Before coming to API, Bentley served in the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper as legislative director and as a senior advisor on energy and agricultural issues. Prior to that, Bentley served in the Colorado Energy Office as deputy director of policy and legislative affairs. She also served as director of national affairs with the Colorado Farm Bureau. A Colorado native, Bentley earned her Bachelor of Arts and her Master of Arts from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.