Loveland, Colorado, voters chose not to place a two-year moratorium on fracking.
The Loveland vote, which closed yesterday, was close: 10,844 against the moratorium, with 9,942 in support of it.
A few late developments may have helped swing Loveland voters against the moratorium.
Last Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that neighboring Weld County, Colorado, saw the largest increase in employment in the nation last year at 6 percent. That growth has been largely attributed to the energy sector.
Also, days before the election, a prominent anti-fracking activist, Phillip Doe, was widely criticized for writing an incendiary op-ed online attacking B.J. Nikkel, a former state representative who now directs a pro-fracking organization, the Loveland Energy Action Project.
In it, he wrote: “Finally, among the many whoppers dutifully trotted out like a trained talking dog, Nikkel reminded the audience that fracking is perfectly safe because it has been around since the 1940’s. … For some reason after Nikkel and her folk got done speaking, I kept thinking of Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and how big lies gain acceptance.”
As National Review Online has reported before, Loveland’s proposed moratorium was part of a larger attempt to limit energy extraction across Colorado.
Since 2012, Boulder, Fort Collins and Broomfield have all approved moratoriums on fracking, while Longmont and Lafayette enacted bans. And Colorado may also soon consider around a dozen proposed ballot measures that would likely result in more restrictions on fracking across the state.
As a purple state, as well as a state where it’s relatively easy to get an issue on a ballot, Colorado is often used as a test ground for controversial political reforms. Experts are calling Colorado “ground zero” in the national fracking debate, suggesting that if environmental groups are successful in limiting energy extraction there, they may export similar tactics to other states.
— Jillian Kay Melchior is a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. She is also a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.