FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports on a new poll that validates something we've been saying for weeks: measures working their way toward the ballot to enhance local control over oil and gas drilling are also good politics. We understand this fact may upset some conventional wisdom:
According to the statewide poll by RBI Strategies, which is running Polis’s campaign, 51 percent of Coloradans are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports greater regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, by local communities than is currently provided by the state.
Just 34 percent of respondents say they’re more likely to support a candidate who opposes increased local control of drilling.
The survey challenges the conventional wisdom that a ballot measure to give local communities control of oil and gas drilling will backfire for Democrats, making them the targets of an estimated $50 million in spending by the oil and gas industry in an effort to defeat the measure. [Pols emphasis]
Multiple sources also tell FOX31 Denver that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner, whose race against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall could determine control of the Senate next year, is rumored to be back-channeling with stakeholders and urging them to reach a compromise on legislation that could keep Polis’s initiatives off the November ballot.
Cory Gardner's spokesman denies that any such urging has taken place, but it wouldn't surprise us in the least. Despite the insistence from the oil and gas industry and supporting operatives that these measure could prove divisive to Democrats heading into this year's tough elections, we've flatly rejected this as scare tactics–designed to self-fulfill a self-serving prophecy. We believe that the fallout risk is much greater for politicians who choose not to side with local communities. And with a few exceptions, that's generally Republicans.
As we've said previously, any legislative deal on local control over oil and gas drilling must be strong enough to meaningfully placate conservationists and nervous local communities, or there's no reason not to take the issue to the ballot. Given the success local communities have already had with "fracking" moratoria, you can see why the industry is in a panic to head this effort off. Once you get past the wall of misinformation thrown up by the industry's pitch men, local control has a very good chance of passing statewide–and boosting politicians who get on board with it, not hurting them.
As negotiations for a deal continue, everyone needs to keep in mind who has the upper hand, morally and popularly, in this debate. And as this poll shows, it's not the oil and gas industry.