Oil Well Setbacks Among Seven Initiatives To Turn in Petitions for Colorado’s Fall Ballot

Organizers for the oil and gas well setback initiative dropped off about 171,000 signatures on 6 August, days after allegations that their gatherers were being paid by opponents to leave the state.

Russell Mendell, a volunteer with Colorado Rising, said the group is confident it has the 98,492 valid voter signatures needed for Initiative 97 to qualify for the November ballot.

“We just feel the incredible momentum of the past few days,” Mendell said.

The initiative would require new oil and gas wells to be at least 2,500 ft away from homes and schools. Currently they must be 500 ft from homes and 1,000 ft from schools.

Initiative 97 was one of seven proposed statewide initiatives to submit petitions by the deadline for the fall election. Signatures still need to be verified before they qualify for the ballot.

Groups aligned with the oil and gas industry vowed to continue fighting the measure and challenge the validity of signatures supporting the initiative. They say it will kill thousands of jobs and put a stranglehold on the industry.

“We are prepared to challenge the validity of these signatures to ensure that they are accurate, valid, and that they were obtained by following all the proper laws, including that the signature gatherers were properly certified to carry petitions,” said Scott Gessler, attorney for Protect Colorado, in a statement.

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