Fracking issue still uncertain, Beauprez says

Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez is glad the two anti-fracking ballot measures won’t be placed before voters this fall.

But then again, he isn’t.

The Republican and former congressman said Tuesday that not having them on the ballot means the issue over whether local governments should have some say over the controversial practice of fracking is kept alive.

So the only thing his opponent, Gov. John Hickenlooper, did in getting supporters of those measures to pull them from the ballot is continue a sense of uncertainty over the issue.

As a result, Beauprez said, he wished the measures were on the ballot so that Coloradans could vote them down and the oil and gas industry wouldn’t have the uncertainty that the issue will bring again during the next general election in 2016.

“I’m happy that they’re gone, but what we got in exchange for them was not a good trade,” Beauprez told The Daily Sentinel editorial board Tuesday. “That’s what the governor should have done — beat these, beat them badly and make them go away. If we were going to beat these things, this is the year. (There is) a favorable environment to beat this back.”

Beauprez was referring to a deal Hickenlooper reached with U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., over two measures he was pushing for this fall’s ballot, one of which would have asked citizens to allow local governments to set a 2,000-foot setback rule on where wells can be located.

The deal called for supporters to pull back two other measures supported by the drilling industry, one of which would have barred local governments that limit development from receiving severance tax money from that industry.

In exchange, the governor is creating a special task force to more closely examine the matter and propose a compromise to the Colorado Legislature.

Other critics of the governor said the move was entirely political, an attempt to save Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall — who’s facing a tough re-election bid against U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. — the political capital in having to support or oppose them, and the possibility of losing votes because of it.

“Sure it was political,” Beauprez said. “This has got Mark Udall and John Hickenlooper’s fingerprints all over it.”

But Beauprez didn’t disagree with everything Hickenlooper does. He said he would side with Hickenlooper’s support of a measure Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, wants to introduce into the Colorado Legislature next year that would hold harmless local governments from having to return federal mineral lease payments from leases that have been revoked on the Roan Plateau.

The bill would call on the state to backfill any payments, saving the local governments from having to do so.


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