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Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado’s candidates for governor from each party, speaking at an industry event in Denver on Wednesday, both expressed opposition to a likely ballot initiative that would significantly curtail oil and gas production in the state.

Why it matters: The opposition shows the influence and large economic footprint of the oil and gas industry in Colorado despite intense environmental and local resistance to increased development. Colorado, an important political battleground, is America’s fifth-largest gas-producing and seventh-largest oil-producing state.

Quoted:

  • Republican Walker Stapleton, via Denverite: "This is nothing more than a job-killing measure, plain and simple."
  • Democrat Jared Polis, via Colorado Springs Gazette: "[W]e can’t ignore the role that the oil and gas industry has played in our growth, or the significant wages and tax revenue it creates in our state. … But neither can we ignore the conflicts between homeowners and operators, between surface rights and mineral rights, between state government and local government."

One level deeper: The initiative would increase a buffer zone between buildings and future drilling from 500 feet to 2,500 feet, and expand it to other "vulnerable" areas, which could encompass rural areas. It's waiting for final state approval to make the ballot; backers are confident they have needed signatures.

The intrigue: Polis’ position represents a nearly 180-degree turn. He helped fund a similar initiative in 2014, only to back off as he and Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, agreed to create a task force, which hasn’t put concerns to rest as wells continue to pop up around neighborhoods.

Go deeper: An important oil-and-gas fight in Colorado.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
11 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

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