Loveland voters defeated an anti-fracking initiative that would have imposed a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, within the city’s borders. Loveland is located about an hour north of Denver.
The proposed ban on fracking failed by about 1,000 votes—with a tally of 9,942 votes in favor of the moratorium, and 10,844 against the measure, according to Loveland’s elections website.
Colorado cities that voted on fracking bans prior to Loveland–Longmont, Boulder, Fort Collins, Lafayette and Broomfield–all approved restrictions on hydraulic fracturing. Several of these voter-approved bans have been taken to court, and the state has a legal case pending against Longmont, which, in 2012, became the first city in Colorado to approve a ban. The Loveland decision appears to dull the prospects of a statewide ban.
B.J. Nikkel, the director of the Loveland Energy Action Project, considers the Loveland decision a turning point in Colorado. Nikkel credits the victory to an unprecedented coalition of citizens and civic leaders that came together to take a stand against a pernicious ban. Nikkel attributed the Loveland results to voters being informed, stating “Loveland serves as a great example that when voters receive the right information and encouragement they see through the activists’ deception and fear tactics.”
Notwithstanding the result, opponents of hydraulic fracturing in Colorado remain confident their efforts will ultimately succeed. Nick Passante, spokesman for Coloradans for Safe and Clean Energy, views the Loveland result as a small skirmish leading up to a larger battle. According to Passante, “[t]he [oil and gas] industry should certainly be running scared as we head towards the ballot in November, to pass clear and decisive measures in support of sensible setback limits and responsible protections for Colorado families”.
Following the Loveland decision, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper stated that negotiations were continuing on the possibility of calling lawmakers back to Denver for a special session to address fracking-related ballot initiatives that are being circulated for the November election. The lawmakers would consider a bill aimed at stalling potential statewide ballot measures.
Regardless of how the energy debate in Colorado is resolved, whether at ballot boxes or the legislature, it is clear that decisions regarding the future of Colorado’s “energy economy” are imminent. There is little doubt that these decisions could have significant impacts on Colorado’s economy. In addition, burgeoning shale-rich states which are supportive of hydraulic fracturing will no doubt look to attract investment from oil and gas companies currently operating in Colorado in the event hydraulic fracturing is banned or severely restricted.