Colorado voters just made it a lot harder to pass fracking bans.
In recent years, a number of communities in the state have passed local bans, but the state Supreme Court struck them down. Activists then decided to try to change the constitution to allow local fracking bans. So the oil and gas industry then decided to try to make changing the constitution more difficult.
And that brings us to Amendment 71, which the oil and gas industry pushed onto the ballot and which about 57 percent of voters approved. It sounds benign: It requires any proposed ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to get a certain number of signatures from each of Colorado’s Senate districts, and to ultimately get 55 percent of the vote, rather than the previously required 50 percent.
The oil and gas industry insists the amendment is an attempt to ensure only initiatives that are “constitutional-worthy” gain consideration by voters. But anti-fracking activists say it’s a just a way to make citizen campaigns less likely to succeed.
Campaigners still hope to run another ballot measure to legalize local fracking bans in 2018, but after Tuesday’s vote, that will be trickier than ever.