Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fracking Ban Politics Runs Out of Gas

The activists hoping the fracking bans were the next issue that could attract the money, media and voters for a new anti-growth political movement in Colorado have run out of gas.

In a June 12th cover story, Valerie Richardson in The Colorado Statesman ran down the reasons the anti-fracking movement has lost the headlines and likely momentum for a 2016 ballot initiative.

Some of the reasons I cited in the article are:

Denver political analyst Floyd Ciruli points out that it’s still quite early in the 2016 election cycle, but he agreed that the anti-fracking movement has lost momentum.

“I approached this year with the thought that activists would continue to promote (a statewide initiative), but indeed, the public anxiety and interest in it has receded,” Ciruli said.

He cited a number of reasons, including the governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force, whose recommendations are being implemented, as well as the industry’s ongoing advertising and education effort, led by Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development.

“The industry has been relentless in their continuing to advertise,” Ciruli said. “There are still lots of TV ads and other media proclaiming the benefits of fracking and the lack of a negative environmental impact, and I think that probably has a tendency to undermine the issue getting some traction.”

Then there’s the decline in global oil prices. The U.S. industry has cut back on drilling operations as Saudi Arabia refuses to curtail production, which has cause the price-per-barrel to plummet.

“Even if it doesn’t affect current production, it changes the atmosphere,” Ciruli said. “It’s no longer an ever-expanding industry — it’s now one with at least some level of contraction. Even in these small towns, there’s been some impact on the economy. It just sort of reminds everyone that for all the inconvenience, there is an economic upside.”

“[T]he 2016 election is a lot like 2014 in terms of the Democratic Party leadership,” Ciruli said. “There still is tremendous reluctance to have anything approaching a fracking ban on the ballot, simply because it divides the party so much, which is one reason the governor worked so hard to find a compromise.”

“The actual passion about the issue has dissipated,” Ciruli said. “While there may be more liberal-leaning voters in the electorate, they may be more interested in other issues.”

Read her entire article here.

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