GOLDEN: Proposition 112’s Attack on Energy Industry Will Hurt South Metro Economy

Debates over the future of Colorado’s oil and gas industry can seem remote for residents in the southern suburbs of Denver.  But ballot measures such as Proposition 112, which would cripple the state’s energy economy and cost tens of thousands of jobs, could have devastating effects for families and businesses in our area.  It must be soundly defeated.

Area voters will soon receive the summary of ballot measures known as the “Blue Book,” and it’s vital that all of us become well-informed before we cast our vote.  

The facts about Proposition 112 and its profound impact statewide should give us all pause.

The measure would increase the “setback” – the legally mandated distance between energy development and homes, schools and other businesses – by five times their current distance.  Despite a dearth of evidence that such an expansion would in any way improve public health, the measure would place 85 percent of Colorado off limits to energy development.  

Robert Golden, President and CEO South Metro Chamber  

What would this do to our economy?

A study by the Common Sense Policy Roundtable said the effect would erase nearly 150,000 jobs in the next dozen years, and more than three-quarters of all jobs lost would be outside of the energy industry.  Like most industries, oil and natural gas generates economic activity in real estate, construction, retail, hotels, restaurants and catering, and health care.  

When we consider the industry’s statewide scope, it’s easy to see how a measure such as Proposition 112 can have such a negative impact.

A 2015 study showed that the industry supported 240,000 jobs, or nearly 7 percent of total state employment, and contributes more than $31 billion to the state’s economy.  In addition, industry taxes generate more than $1 billion annually for government services at the state and local level, including schools, public safety, parks and roads, and bridges.  

More than 1,100 businesses, including a number of small companies, are part of the oil and natural gas supply chain.  Each is looking at an economic hit if Proposition 112 passes.

These are big statewide numbers, and local residents in our area might think that the effects of Proposition 112 would be felt in northern and western Colorado, where the bulk of energy exploration occurs in our state.   The economic body-blow would not be limited to certain areas of the state – our local economy, support for schools and other key state functions, as well as your job and those of your neighbors and friends could be at risk as well.

An economic impact study done by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado showed that nearly 2,800 jobs in Arapahoe County, generating almost $250 million in annual income are tied to the energy industry.  And in Denver, where many local residents commute to work, there are 18,000 jobs generating $2 billion in income.  

Jobs are just part of the story.  

Whether companies have their offices in Denver, or in suburban areas like the South Metro region, the rent for office space and taxes paid by those companies – as well as just the retail spending of employees while at work – is a significant component of local economies.  Causing energy companies to close up shop will leave a major economic crater in our area.  

Slashing tax revenue also presents a massive challenge for local residents and businesses.  If Proposition 112 axes a big chunk of the $1 billion taxes generated by the oil and natural gas industry, where are state and local governments going to fill the gap?  Will they close schools, fire police officers and firefighters, close or limit access to parks?  Or will they have to ask for more tax revenue?  Or both?  

The ripple effect of Proposition 112 in communities in the South Metro area that never encounter oil and natural gas exploration would be profoundly negative, permanently altering our economy and our quality of life.  We are sounding the alarm bell now to warn voters throughout our region that, for our future and that of our children and grandchildren, Proposition 112 deserves a “no” vote.

– Robert Golden is the President and CEO of the South Metro Chamber, based in Centennial. For more information visit

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