Colorado Bid to Block Oil Drilling Muddies Political Lines

August 22, 2018

Colorado's Democratic candidate for governor once bankrolled efforts to restrict fracking. Now, he's working hard to reassure the state's oil explorers that he's on their side.

A ballot proposal to limit drilling in the state has sent stocks of oil and gas producers on a roller coaster ride during the past month. U.S. Representative Jared Polis, running for the state's top office, has come out strongly against the proposal, defying his own party. His opposition highlights what's at stake for the energy industry, which is pumping record volumes of oil and gas as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling propel Colorado into the upper echelon of shale producers.

So-called Initiative 97 would increase the buffer zone between oil wells and occupied structures, and could block drilling in half the state, according to Colorado's energy agency.

"Initiative 97 would all but ban fracking in Colorado - a position I have never supported," Polis said at the annual Colorado Oil and Gas Conference in Denver on Wednesday. "Let me be very clear where I stand on this: As I said during the Democratic primary, I oppose Initiative 97."

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