BRIGHTON, CO – Today the Adams County Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of a 30-day moratorium on any new oil and gas permit applications within the county. They announced consideration of this measure publicly just yesterday, and rammed it through in the 11th-hour, after over 45% of ballots have already been cast in the general election.
Because Proposition 112, an effective ban on oil and gas development is on the ballot for the 2018 general election, the county commission preempted a vote of its citizens with this moratorium. This latest development sets a concerning precedent for regulation in anticipation of voter-approved or legislatively-driven measures. Now that Adams County has opened Pandora’s Box of anticipatory regulation, it will be almost impossible to close.
There’s no reason now that local governments wouldn’t create temporary regulations to eschew responsibility for a host of issues in hopes they will resolve at higher levels of government. With this ill-conceived moratorium now on the books, temporary measures throughout the legislative session can’t be far behind.
“Adams County Commissioners cynically demonstrated their lack of faith in Colorado’s voters with this 11th-hour measure,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “They’ve decided to pawn off responsibility for handling county business and kick the can down the road. It speaks to the deep cynicism toward the voters that has permeated every level of government.”