Vital for Colorado asks Polis to stand down

Vital for Colorado and dozens of prominent business, political and economic development organizations are making a direct appeal to U.S. Rep. Jared Polis to withdraw Initiatives 88 and 89, which would ban fracking and limit energy development in the state.

In a letter to Polis this week, Vital for Colorado — the bipartisan group of approximately 2,400 businesses, trade associations, chambers of commerce, sportsmen organizations, agricultural organizations, local governments, non-profits, and citizens — asked the Democratic lawmaker from Boulder to withdraw his support for the proposed ballot initiatives. They contend that these measures would add language to the state constitution “which will overly restrict the practice of hydraulic fracturing, limit energy development in Colorado and, as a result, create devastating consequences for our state.”

“We do not believe using the serious and permanent mechanism of a constitutional amendment is an appropriate approach to regulating the energy industry,” wrote Peter Moore, Vital for Colorado board chairman and attorney with the Denver law firm of Polsinelli PC in Denver.

“Colorado has among the most rigorous energy rules and regulations in the nation,” he continued.

“In the last several years, stakeholders have been working hard to strengthen our oil and gas regulations the Colorado way — thoughtfully, collaboratively and pragmatically. And as a result, our state is considered a best practice both nationally and internationally for our energy regulations. A constitutional amendment bypasses this regulatory regime. The people of Colorado expect our elected officials to know better and work within its structure.”

Signers of the letter include : Action 22; Associated General Contractors of Colorado; Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractor; Colorado Association of REALTORS®; Colorado Bankers Association; Colorado Cattlemen Association; Colorado Concern; Colorado Contractors Association; Colorado Women’s Alliance; Common Sense Policy Roundtable; Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce; Douglas County Business Alliance; Farm Bureau of Colorado; FUEL; Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Professionals of Colorado; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Denver; Independence Institute; Mechanical Contractors Association of Colorado; Mechanical Service Contractors Association of Colorado; National Federation of Independent Business of Colorado; Nucor Corporation; Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Colorado; Progressive 15; and the following Vital for Colorado Board of Directors and Advisory Board members:

Peter Moore, Senior Partner, Polsinelli PC
Jennifer Diggins, Director, Public Affairs, Nucor Corporation
Michael Dunafon, Mayor, City of Glendale
Jack Hays, CEO and President, Resource West
Michelle Smith, Rockies President, National Association of Royalty Owners
Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker
Jeff Wasden, Board Member and Vice Chair of Public Policy, South Metro Denver Chamber
John Zimmerman, President, Denver Investments
Kelly J. Brough, President and CEO, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
Kristin Strohm, Executive Director, Common Sense Policy Roundtable
Tamra J. Ward, President and CEO, Colorado Concern

The letter follows the formation of Vital Colorado a few months ago. Since that time the organization has grown throughout the state, with members signing its pledge to support oil and natural gas development in Colorado, and opposing energy bans and patchwork regulation.

“Our fast growth can be attributed to the fact that members of our coalition strongly believe the economic future of our state should be determined by the majority of Coloradans, not by special interests,” stated Vital For Colorado board member Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker.

Signers run the gamut from large and politically influential business groups — the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the National Federation of Independent Business, Action 22, Club 20, Progressive 15, Colorado Contractors Association — to regional chambers of commerce in Grand Junction, Loveland and Denver. Scores of individual small businesses also have signed — everything from lawn companies to auto repair shops, banks, ranches, real estate brokers, farmers, dairy owners, and sporting goods stores.

Dan Ritchie, a Colorado icon and former president of the University of Denver, was one of the first signers of the Vital For Colorado pledge. Numerous current and former CEOs, including Pete Coors, Buz Koelbel, Larry A. Mizel, and Mary Pat Link, also have signed the pledge.

Tim Foster and Bill Scoggins, both sitting presidents of Colorado universities, signed the pledge (on their own behalf, not on the part of the schools they represent).

Other prominent signatories include Republican and Democratic leaders — such as State Sen. Cheri Jahn, a prominent Democratic elected official from Jefferson County, and State Sen. and former gubernatorial candidate Greg Brophy.

Farming and ranching groups have signed the pledge in large numbers — including the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Colorado Dairy Association, Colorado Woolgrowers, the Colorado Mule Deer Association, the Colorado Farm Bureau, and thirteen regional chapters of the Farm Bureau.

“I felt it was important to join Vital For Colorado because they are sending the message that Colorado is open for business, and we’re not going to let special interests drive any industry out of this state,” said Jamie Hamilton, Chairman & CEO at Home Loan Insurance Company.

“There isn’t a single sector of our economy that isn’t somehow intertwined with another industry, especially design and construction. When oil and gas is attacked, it is really an attack on all of us who benefit from having a prosperous energy economy,” added Kevin Sullivan, principal at Wong Strauch Architects.

“The design, engineering, and construction industries are just now recovering from a six-year down turn, and no one can afford to return to 2007 or worse,” Hamilton continued. “Vital For Colorado lets the oil and gas industry know that the rest of the business community has their back.”

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