Repost from The Coloradoan
Significant funding gap in Colorado fracking fightBy Jacy Marmaduke, August 18, 2016 11:17 a.m. MDT
Committees fighting proposed Colorado ballot measures that would limit fracking have raked in about $15 million in donations this year, more than 35 times the contributions of groups backing the measures.
About 90 percent of the anti-ballot measure donations have come from energy companies, including $10.5 million from Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Noble Energy alone.
“We’ve never seen a number like this from the opposition,” said Luis Toro, executive director of Colorado Ethics Watch, the state government watchdog group that released the numbers confirmed by the Coloradoan. “It shows that (businesses) are ready to spend a lot of money in the best interest of the company’s bottom line.”
In contrast, individual donations of less than $1,000 have been the primary fuel for the pro-ballot measure efforts, bolstered by support from U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, his father and the executive director of the fundraising committees. The pro-ballot measure committees have received about $424,000 in donations this year.
Petitioners submitted signatures for proposed ballot measures 75 and 78 on Aug. 8, the day they were due. The Secretary of State will declare the signatures sufficient or insufficient by Sept. 8. If the office confirms petitioners collected about 98,500 valid signatures for each measure, they’ll appear in the November election.
Measure 75 would amend the state constitution to allow local control of oil and gas development, effectively overturning the Colorado Supreme Court’s denial of Fort Collins’ fracking moratorium and Longmont’s fracking ban.
Measure 78 would amend the state constitution to increase setbacks for oil and gas development from 500 feet to 2,500 feet from occupied structures. The measure would also require a 2,500-foot setback from “areas of special concern,” a category that includes most water sources and riparian areas, parks, sports fields, playgrounds and public open spaces.
The current setback of 500 feet is about the length of 1 1/2 football fields. The proposed setback of 2,500 feet is about a half-mile. It would apply only to new development — but the ballot measure includes reentry of existing wells in its definition of “new development.”
Two committees are working on each side of the proposed ballot measures: Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking and Yes for Local Control Over Oil and Gas are on the pro-ballot measure side. Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence and Vote No on 75/78 are on the anti-ballot measure side.
About 30 percent pro-ballot donations were in the form of services from organizations like Food and Water Watch and Greenpeace. Those services are assigned cash values for record-keeping purposes.
“A successful ballot initiative usually costs at least a million dollars,” Toro said. “That might be an indication of where they’re headed.”
The committees could see a cash infusion if they’re approved for the ballot, Toro added. Committee representatives weren’t available for comment.
The anti-ballot measure committees have received about $15 million in donations this year, not including about $746,000 Protect Colorado had on-hand on Jan. 1. About 10 percent of those donations were in the form of services.
“These measures are so extreme and such a threat to Colorado’s economy that we’ve got the commitments to spend $24 million to fight them,” Protect Colorado spokeswoman Karen Crummy said. “We’ve been very upfront about that from the beginning.”
The anti-ballot measure committees have spent 20 times more than the pro-ballot measure groups as of Aug. 1 — $5 million versus about $250,000, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office. Also as of Aug. 1, the anti-ballot measure side had roughly $9.1 million to the opposition’s $43,000.
Lists of top monetary donors for each side of the issue give you a good idea of how their fundraising has taken shape.
Top monetary donors for pro-ballot measure committees:
- Patricia Olson (founder of both committees): $60,300
- J. Christopher Hormel (Boulder philanthropist): $60,000
- (tie) Lush Cosmetics: $25,000
- (tie) Jared Polis: $25,000
- (tie) Fracking Fund of the New World Foundation: $25,000
- (tie) Stephen Schutz (physicist, greeting card designer, Jared Polis’ father): $25,000
Top donors make up 52 percent of 2016 contributions.
Top monetary donors for anti-ballot measure committees
- Anadarko Petroleum Corporation: $5.5 million
- Noble Energy: $5 million
- PDC Energy: $750,000
- Synergy Resources Corporation: $650,000
- Bayswater Exploration and Production: $500,000
- Whiting Oil and Gas Corporation: $300,000
Top donors make up 85 percent of 2016 contributions.
The American Petroleum Institute, the national trade group representing the oil and gas industry, funded about $1.1 million worth of consulting and other services for Vote No on 75/78 but isn’t on this list because the donations were considered non-monetary.