On October 30, we published an investigative report by David Sirota and Chase Woodruff about Amendment 74, which showed that the ballot measure was far more nefarious than it seemed. In fact, it was designed as a direct response to Proposition 112, which would require more setbacks from oil and gas development projects and certain areas, such as homes and schools.
But in pushing Amendment 74, big oil created its own doomsday device. If it passes, the amendment would force Colorado to compensate property owners if their land loses value because of state regulations. Although the amendment is just eleven words, it could have catastrophic effects on the state.
Readers recognize the danger. Ryan says:
If the amount of money put into fighting this was actually put into the Colorado infrastructure, you wouldn’t need to vote on any of it. Tens of millions of dollars spent to sway us to vote no. Unreal.
Everyone I know has voted yes [on 112]. Just the TV and the oil workers on Facebook have said no. I guess if they found a cure for dying, the funeral homes would be up in arms over jobs lost.
Not sure why everyone thinks it's some great conspiracy that oil companies are spending money to prevent losing a major business opportunity. I have a "no on 112" sign in my yard. Conspiracy? Nope, I just don't want to be voted out of a job by a bunch of Denverites who will probably never see an oil well anyway.
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As a concept, Amendment 74 is not new — it resurrects the libertarian ballot-initiative fad from the mid-2000s, when seven Western states considered similar property-rights proposals amid the furor over a controversial Supreme Court case strengthening eminent domain powers. This time around, if the amendment passes November 6, it will radically alter the law to give oil and gas companies more power to sue state and local governments for property losses if those governments restrict or regulate fossil fuel exploration for any reason: health, safety, climate change...anything.
In the upcoming election, voters in Arizona, Nevada and Washington will consider environmental ballot measures that could reduce fossil fuel industry profits at the very moment that key parts of the industry are already facing financial turbulence. As scientists’ climate change warnings become increasingly grave, the industry is likely to confront even more such initiatives to wean America off oil and gas. But if Amendment 74 is successful in a swing state like Colorado, oil and gas companies will have birthed a new template that could be replicated in other locales. It's a model that could block all future state efforts to reduce fossil fuel extraction, carbon pollution, vehicle emissions and climate change.
What do you think of Amendment 74? Let us know in a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.