Fact Check: Does Initiative 97, the 2,500-foot setback measure, apply primarily to inhabited buildings?

Out of Gas


Blair Miller

Media Publication:


Originally Published On:

July 29, 2018


Out of Gas

Claim #1: Initiative 97, the 2,500-foot setback measure, applies primarily to inhabited buildings.

Fact. The proposed 2,500-foot setback measure for all new oil and gas development on non-federal land includes occupied structures OR vulnerable areas, which are defined to include playgrounds, permanent sports fields, amphitheaters, public parks, public open space, public and community drinking water sources, irrigation canals, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, perennial or intermittent streams and creeks.  Additionally, the measure permits the state or local governments to expand the 2,500-foot setbacks from occupied structures or vulnerable areas to a “larger distance.”

This overly expansive proposal which increases setbacks to five times the distance currently required by state law and adds a litany of vulnerable areas also gives local governments the right to increase the 2,500-foot setback for undefined reasons.  

Because of this sweeping proposal, 85 percent of the state would be off limits to new oil and gas development, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Additionally, over the next 12 years, the state will lose as many as 147,800 jobs, the state economy will lose from $169 billion to $217 billion, and state and local tax revenue generated by the industry will decrease between $7 billion and $9 billion, according to a study released last week by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable. Those taxes are critical to schools and local governments and special governments who use the money for parks, police and fire departments and road improvements, among other things.  

Finally, only 23% of the job losses would be from the oil and gas sector.  If passed, the setback measure would also eliminate:

§  Between 12,000-16,000 retail jobs in Colorado

§  9,000-12,000 healthcare jobs

§  8,000-10,000 construction jobs

§  7,000-9,000 hotel and food service jobs

§  7,000-9,000 local government jobs, including teachers

§  4,000-6,000 real estate jobs

Rating: Out of Gas

Claim #2: Colorado Rising’s battle with a signature-gathering firm who absconded to Oregon with some of their signed petitions “is the latest ongoing dispute between anti-fracking activists and industry-backed groups opposing this issue.”   

Fact. Colorado Rising, the proponents of the setback measure, were in an internal dispute with their own signature gatherers: the firm they themselves hired to collect signatures supporting the 2,500-foot setback measure. It had absolutely nothing to do with the energy industry’s opposition to the measure.

Rating: Out of Gas

Reviewed On:
July 31, 2018