“I would support Loveland whatever its citizens choose,” said Polis, referring to the city of 70,000 where voters will decide June 24 on a two-year fracking ban.
“I have never taken a position for or against on any of these initiatives. I fully respect the decisions that voters will make,” Polis said.
However, the Colorado Democrat said that pro-fracking forces need to make their case to voters.
“I think most Coloradoans recognize that energy is an important part of our state economy. If those who support fracking don’t take local interests into consideration, they risk,” Polis said, pausing for half a minute to come up with the correct word, “a backlash.”
Polis added that whichever side prevails, he will work with them in the future.
“If it were the oil and gas industry, I would help them; if it were homeowners, I would help them,” Polis said during an interview Thursday, as he walked from the Capitol to his fourth-floor office in the Longworth building.
Polls show wide support for fracking in Colorado. Last November, a Quinnipiac University survey found that 51 percent supported “the use of fracking,” 34 percent opposed it, and 16 percent were undecided.
However, four cities passed anti-fracking initiatives during the November election including Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins and Lafayette.
Although Polis would not take a stance on Question 1, he has been the chief financial backer of anti-fracking forces and the most visible among state Democrats.
Coloradans for Local Control has proposed more than a dozen initiative to appear on the statewide ballot Nov. 4 to increase setbacks, allow localities to supersede state regulation and add an environmental bill of rights to the state constitution.
However, Loveland is set to become the next battleground over the future of fracking. Question 1 asks citizens if they wish to impose a two-year moratorium on fracking in order to “fully study the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on property values and human health.”
B.J. Nikkel, a former state representative who represents Loveland Energy Action Project, a pro-energy group, said Polis’ stated neutrality about the outcome of the Loveland initiative was misleading.
“As a lawmaker, Rep. Polis ought to know that local bans not only violate state law, but private property rights established in our state constitution as well,” Nikkel said.
“I find it rather disingenuous that he supposedly takes no position, because it’s more than obvious to everyone in Colorado that he has been spending his fortune encouraging other communities to enact precisely the same ban that Loveland now faces,” Nikkel said.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, also noted the importance of the Colorado ballot initiatives.
“A lot of people are watching this very closely. It’s a barometer, really, about fracking and how it’s being regulated what the regulations should be,” Grijalva said.