DENVER — A fight underway here in Colorado over a ballot initiative curtailing oil and gas drilling is NIMBYism at its most stark.
Why it matters: NIMBYism — "not in my backyard" opposition — is as old as time and often has a negative reputation. But in the case of Colorado, it shouldn’t. It’s the surprisingly simple result of a growing population and oil drilling encroaching on each other. It's a national symbol of both the economic benefits of drilling and its understandable drawbacks to nearby neighborhoods.
Driving the news: Coloradans are set to vote on a ballot initiative Election Day that would ban drilling within 2,500 feet — nearly a half-mile — from buildings and some green spaces. That’s up from a current limit of 500 feet.
Internal polling conducted on behalf of the state’s oil industry and not previously disclosed shows the initiative is likely to pass with around 60% support.
“You are at war. We have to crush this thing.” — Chip Rimer, SVP of global services, Noble Energy
Rimer made those comments to fellow executives at an industry conference last month in Denver. With backing from national industry groups, Colorado’s oil sector is likely to spend upwards of $30 million to defeat the measure, according to one official involved.
- A state government agency study found the initiative could cut off as much as 85% of the state’s future energy development on non-federal lands.
- Stocks of Colorado-focused producers, including Anadarko Petroleum, Noble Energy, Extraction Oil & Gas and PDC Energy plummeted on the news in late August that the initiative made the ballot.
The big picture: Rimer and other industry officials say it would effectively ban new development in the state, costing 150,000 jobs and putting at risk $1 billion in annual taxes. Backers of the initiative say the measure is important for residents’ health and safety — and for addressing climate change.
Colorado is America’s fifth-largest gas-producing state, and the seventh-largest for oil production. The state’s tension over fracking, a controversial extraction technique for oil and gas, has been brewing for years and is reaching a fever pitch this election cycle.
Go deeper: Read the whole column in the Axios stream.