Oil industry gets aggressive in fight over Colorado ballot measure to protect public from drilling


Notable Coloradans such as former star Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway and former U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton have appeared in television advertisements financed by the oil and gas industry to oppose a grass roots-driven ballot initiative — known as Proposition 112 — that would expand the buffer zone between homes and drilling sites.

In the latest development in the ballot initiative battle, the oil industry is bringing in celebrities to push back on the popular grassroots initiative. Individual natural gas companies are also spending huge sums of unregulated money on anti-proposition television advertisements.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision weakened regulation of federal campaign laws, but it preserved state statutes that require direct election expenditures to be disclosed. Noble Energy’s advertisements explicitly urge Coloradans to vote against the ballot measure, but the company has declared that such ads are not governed by state campaign-finance or disclosure laws, according to Westword.

However, Brendan Fisher of the Campaign Legal Center told Westword that while Colorado law requires certain disclosures by groups that are spending to influence candidate elections, those same requirements may not apply to ballot measures like Proposition 112.

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