As President Barrack Obama once said, “Elections have consequences.” This political adage rings especially true in Colorado after the Centennial State’s power balance shifted when Democrats secured a political monopoly in November 2018.
The same day that Coloradans bestowed Democrats with extraordinary power, they also overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 112, a measure that would have banned oil and gas development on more than 85 percent of Colorado’s non-federal lands.
However, Colorado Democrats are now trying to pass a bill that would effectively ban oil and gas development throughout the state anyway.
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Yes, this betrayal is nothing less than a shameful disenfranchisement of Colorado voters. Under the cover of darkness, Senate Democrats overrode the people’s will and rushed the bill through committee hearings in a clear effort to subdue overwhelming public opposition.
The resounding defeat of Proposition 112 was due in no small part to Coloradans understanding that more than 230,000 jobs are directly and indirectly tied to the oil and gas industries. The prospect of losing more than 100,000 of these jobs, $23.1 billion in wages, and the overall $31 billion contribution to the state’s economy was unconscionable.
In other words, the people of Colorado voted in their own economic interests. Apparently, Senate Democrats weren’t fazed by this unambiguous decision from Coloradans. Even as the anti-fossil fuel bill was presented, the pleas from oil and gas workers who gathered from around the state fell on deaf ears. Those workers and their families were tossed aside as Democrats passed the bill in a party-line vote.
Unsurprisingly, arguments for the bill have been feckless at best. Supporters claim it gives more authority to localities on oil and gas regulations, but this is not the bill’s true intent. The bill would give specific localities with the strongest regulations special preference to dictate regulatory policy across the entire state, which would put a de facto ban on any oil and gas operations.
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For example, Weld County, which accounts for more than 40 percent of oil and gas production in the state alone, would be at the mercy of other localities that could make the argument that any operations in Weld County negatively impact them. It is an easy way for House and Senate Democrats to carry out national party policy while conveniently claiming deniability by ceding authority to those local governments that impose the strictest regulations.
The situation in Colorado is a symptom of a larger problem across the country, as voters reject anti-fossil fuel initiatives to raise carbon and gas taxes, as well as instituting fracking bans, only for their elected officials to unapologetically disregard their constituents in favor of toeing the national party line. Federalism has run amuck.
This sad excuse for a bill is just another Trojan horse policy to eliminate fossil fuels and force a transition to more expensive renewable sources at a cost not only to ratepayers, but also tens of thousands of workers in the oil and gas supply chains.
The bill will now be heard in the House, but House Democrats should consider what their Senate colleagues haven’t: Elections have consequences and a day of reckoning could be just around the corner in 2020.
George Jamerson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the director of government relations with The Heartland Institute, a non-partisan, free-market think tank headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
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