Colorado voters to decide future of fracking in the state

Colorado residents will vote on a statewide anti-fracking measure at the ballot box next week after many years of bitter fights over oil and gas development.

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Proposition 112 is a ballot initiative that would require new well sites to increase the distance between oil and gas developments and areas considered vulnerable, like homes and schools, to 2,500 feet.

“So there’s solid science that backs up this distance, it’s not arbitrary,” Colorado Rising’s Suzanne Spiegel told Fox News’ Alicia Acuna.

Colorado regulations currently require oil and gas sites to be 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from occupied structures such as schools.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the practice of extracting oil and gas trapped in shale rock formations 1,000 feet underground by pushing sand and chemical fluid into the shale to release the fuels.

Colorado Rising, a group backing anti-fracking measures, is accusing the industry of putting profits over people by suggesting that people living near fracking wells are at a risk of chemical exposure.

“They don’t take into account people’s health whether it’s children or families,” Spiegel said. “We feel it’s our responsibility as responsible Coloradans to make sure that if industrial activities are going to happen that it’s not on top of homes.”

Colorado, one of the nation’s top oil-producing states, is estimated to take a $230 million hit on its economy in the first year if voters approve Proposition 112.

“So in the first year alone, we’re going to see about 43,000 jobs lost,” Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Tracee Bentley told Fox News.

Backers of the anti-fracking initiative argue that the majority of the jobs lost are not within the oil and gas industry. Opponents are challenging the notion that the fracking process is unsafe.

“We have the strictest environmental and health regulations of anywhere in the country and our companies have to abide by them. They’re law,” Bentley said.

Among the opponents of the anti-fracking measure include Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D), Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway and The Denver Post editorial board.

“The proposition, put on the ballot by more than 120,000 concerned Coloradans who signed petitions, is written in such a way as to effectively ban oil and gas operations in a state with rich reserves waiting to be developed,” The Denver Post editorial board wrote on Oct. 11.