As a part of the primary election held on June 24, residents in Loveland were asked whether or not a two-year moratorium on fracking should be enacted in order to further study the potential impacts.
Those unfamiliar that we’ve been fracking since 1947, with over 1.2 million frack jobs under our belt, may be inclined to think, “Sure, let’s wait until we know more — what’s the harm?” It’s a very reasonable approach.
But unlike the five communities of Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins, Lafayette and Longmont which voted for a ban or moratorium in past elections, Loveland changed course and immediately became a national case study and microcosm in the debate on fracking.
Why? It’s clear that those previous decisions to halt fracking in Colorado communities were based on unfounded and hyper-emotional claims meant to mask anti-fracking organizations’ true agenda of eliminating the production of oil and natural gas altogether. Fortunately, Loveland voters saw through the “delay tactics” behind the call for further studies, and hopefully other Colorado communities will follow their lead and learn more about fracking’s 60+ year history.
In Colorado especially, we already have high standards and “best in nation” model environmental regulations in place to ensure that the health and safety of our communities come first. With the facts on fracking in hand, voters chose the opportunity and benefit oil and natural gas development can bring to a local community.
Recently the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that neighboring Weld County — home to 85 percent of Colorado’s oil production and the heart of responsible energy development — is thriving and had the largest percentage increase in employment in the United States in 2013.
Duke University separately drew attention to the tax revenue Weld County received from oil and natural gas development, increasing from roughly $50 million per year in the early 2000s to over $200 million in 2012. Statewide, Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry supported more than 110,000 jobs, generated $29.6 billion in economic activity in Colorado and $1.6 billion in tax revenues that go to schools, roads, infrastructure, and other critical services.
Conversely, a study released by researchers at the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business at CU-Boulder quantified the ill effects of a potential statewide ban on fracking in Colorado. The study, titled “Hydraulic Fracturing Ban: The Economic Impact of a Statewide Fracking Ban in Colorado,” showed that a statewide fracking ban would “result in 93,000 fewer jobs, $12 billion in lost gross domestic product and an annual reduction of $985 million in tax revenue for local and state governments between 2015 and 2040.”
Additionally, the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) released a report quantifying the effect of a county-level ban on fracking in nearby Boulder County, concluding that such a ban would cost the county over $1 billion in compensation to mineral owners and those who receive royalties from energy development on their property.
Clearly, voters in Loveland saw two paths before them, and supported the path of responsible energy development and the tremendous benefits that come with it, while rejecting the path of a future marred by lawsuits at the expense of taxpayers.
When voters have the facts on fracking, they are more than capable of making an informed decision about this critical economic driver and shown the courage to rebuff attempts by extremists to outlaw fracking.
Jon Haubert is communications director for Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED).