Polis, Industry Vow to Keep Oil and Gas Measures Off the Ballot Through 2022
: Coronavirus killed most of this year’s proposals while pact with governor eliminated the sole survivor

by Jessica Folker

The oil and gas industry is a perennial focus for statewide ballot measures in Colorado, and as of April, proponents of seven oil and gas-related initiatives were cleared to circulate petitions this spring. But the pandemic and a pact between the governor and industry announced Friday mean oil and gas issues are likely to be off the ballot through 2022.

In the spring, ballot initiative proponents were hopeful they could continue collecting signatures by e-mail and mail following a May executive order from Gov. Jared Polis authorizing the unconventional petitioning methods. But the Colorado Supreme Court on Jul. 1 unanimously struck down the governor’s order as unconstitutional, leading many proponents to abandon their efforts.

As of Jul. 23, it appeared one measure was still poised to make the 2020 ballot. But on Friday, Protect Colorado, the group backing the only surviving ballot initiative, announced it had struck a truce with Polis to set aside its ballot measure battles over oil and gas through 2022.

“Today, we join with Governor Polis and mainstream environmental organizations and agree not to pursue ballot measures in 2020 and work together to prevent adverse ballot measures in 2022,” the group said on its website Friday.

Protect Colorado’s announcement followed an op-ed by Polis published in Colorado Politics Friday in which the governor urged environmental and industry groups to wait until the state’s oil and gas reforms had been implemented before resuming their ballot battles.

“Let’s give SB 181 a chance to work, and let’s see the full effects of the law instead of returning to the same old ballot box wars that this legislation was designed to avoid,” Polis wrote.

The complete version of this article appears in the July 27 issue of Law Week article. To read this and other articles from that issue, order a copy online.