Gas, oil price decline may boost amendment

Plummeting natural gas and crude oil prices could improve the chances of a proposed tax hike on the energy industry passing, according to Amendment 58’s proponents.

George Merritt, spokesman for A Smarter Colorado, which is supporting the ballot measure, said the timing of the commodity prices’ tumbles does not bode well for Amendment 58’s detractors, the energy industry.

“It’s bad timing for them. … Not only are prices going down, these companies are making record profits at a time when regular Coloradans are not,” Merritt said.

Amendment 58 would eliminate a tax credit for energy producers that allows them to subtract 87.5 percent of their local property tax burdens from the severance taxes they owe the state.

One of the central tenets of Amendment 58’s opposition campaign, by the group Coloradans for a Stable
Economy, has been that consumers will pay more at the pump and on their home heating bills.

According to data from the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas and crude oil prices have plummeted since August.

Natural gas futures prices for November delivery have fallen from $9.253 per thousand cubic feet on Aug. 8 to $6.393 per thousand cubic feet midway through this week.

Light crude prices have roughly fallen to half of what they were at the end of summer, from more than $120 a barrel to around $60 a barrel this week.

Norman Provizer, a political science professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver, said the falling commodity prices are just one argument the proponents of Amendment 58 can seize upon ahead of Election

“The key thing here is that, by itself, declining gas prices will not automatically turn off opposition to the amendment,” Provizer said. “What it needs to be combined with is a positive selling point for it.”

Dan Hopkins, spokesman for the campaign opposing the amendment, said the falling commodity prices and consumer costs, however, have had no effect on people’s opinions of Amendment 58.

Hopkins said the falling commodity prices actually work in Coloradans for a Stable Economy’s favor, showing voters not to take a chance on making the nation’s erratic commodity markets worse.

“They can go back up as quickly as they went down,” Hopkins said.


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