A statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing would cost Colorado 68,000 jobs and $8 billion in economic activity over five years, according to an analysis released Wednesday.
The economic modeling study by the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business describes job losses rippling into sectors as disparate as health care and farming.
The analysis was conducted on behalf of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., Denver South Economic Development Partnership and the Common Sense Policy Roundtable, a free-enterprise think tank in Highlands Ranch.
While five municipalities and Boulder County have adopted fracking bans or moratoriums, there is no statewide ballot initiative to ban fracking.
"It is a worst-case scenario," Metro Denver EDC chief Tom Clark said. "We wanted the public to understand the size of the oil and gas in Colorado."
Since 95 percent of the wells in Colorado are fracked, the study assumes that drilling activity would be reduced 95 percent.
Fracking, a key step in oil and gas production, pumps millions of gallons of water, sand and trace chemicals down wells to fracture rock in order to release oil and gas.
The oil and gas ballot initiatives proposed for the November ballot focus on giving communities control over siting of drilling and requiring greater setbacks from homes and buildings.
"This is part of an expensive campaign by the industry to scare voters," said Laura Fronckiewicz, a leader in Local Control Colorado, the sponsor of one of the initiatives. "This isn't about banning fracking, it is about giving communities the ability to put some controls on development — community by community."
The CU study, which began when there was a possibility of a statewide ban initiative, doesn't reflect the more nuanced proposals, said Brian Lewandowski, author of the Leeds analysis.
"When it comes to local control, it is likely that communities that have benefited from development wouldn't ban it and population centers, which might not have oil and gas reserves, would," Lewandowski said.
Five counties account for 87 percent of the oil and gas activity in the state.
Additional modeling on the economic impacts of local control and increased setbacks needs to be done, Lewandowski said.
"What the study does do is give a profile of the oil and gas industry's role in the state's economy," he said.
The mining sector, dominated by oil and gas, made up 3.7 percent of Colorado's gross domestic product in 2012, or about $10 billion.
Mark Jaffe: 303-954-1912, email@example.com or twitter.com/bymarkjaffe
Title hearings set for april 2
The Colorado secretary of state's Title Board has set April 2 hearings for 10 versions of proposed ballot initiatives related to regulating oil and gas activity in Colorado. Once the board sets the language of the ballot questions, supporters may begin collecting signatures. Backers will need to collect about 86,000 valid signatures to get any of the measures on the fall ballot.
The initiatives up for consideration include:
No. 82: Local control of oil and gas development
No. 89: Local government regulation of environment
No. 90: Local government control of oil and gas development
No. 91: Local government control of oil and gas operations
No. 92: Local government control of oil and gas development
No. 93: Local government control of oil and gas development
No. 85: Oil and gas operations, 1,500-foot setback
No. 86: Oil and gas operations, 2,000-foot setback
No. 87: Oil and gas operations, 2,640-foot setback
No. 88: Oil and gas operations, 2,000-foot setback