The good news is that the fracking-killing Proposition 112 did not pass, but the bad news is that it got 43% of the votes, which in political terms is a lot. Let-wing politicians see this near victory as a mandate for change. The ugly news is that the new Governor is a radical green and the Democrats now control both houses in the legislature. This likely adds up to a green energy wave coming in Colorado.
There is no question that some sort of fracking-limiting action will now be taken. The questions are by whom and how bad will it be? There is already an offset rule on fracking operations, basically 500 feet from homes and 1000 from big things like schools. Proposition 112 would have increased this to a whopping 2500 feet, plus including a host of natural features, all the way up to intermittent streams, which was the real killer.
Jared Polis, the new Democrat Governor, opposed 112 but his regulatory people enforce the existing offset rule. They can probably change the offset rule without legislation, just as EPA can change federal standards.
Polis is a radical green, who has called for Colorado to become 100% renewable in power generation by 2040, even faster than California’s absurd 2045 goal. No friend to fossil fuels, he is very likely to support increasing the restrictions on fracking.
On the legislative side, the Republican Senate has been a brake on anti-fracking bills passed by the House, but that brake is now off. Colorado is now completely controlled by Democrats. Given the big vote for 112, new laws on fracking are almost inevitable.
One hopes that whatever does happen will at least be bearable. Increasing the setback from homes to 1000 feet and that from schools to 2500 would probably be okay, provided the land-covering natural features are not included. It might also be politically acceptable to the radicals, because the political pressure comes from the suburbs. Streams were never an issue; in fact they were never mentioned in the news coverage.
But Polis’s 100% renewables goal is even crazier. There is no economically feasible way for an entire state like Colorado to generate all if its electricity from renewables. Absent massive hydro development, the mainstay generator must be wind power, which is dangerously unreliable.
The problem here is meteorological. Week long periods of peak power usage often coincide with very low wind, because they are due to stagnant high pressure systems. This is true heat waves and frigid events, which Colorado has both of. Excessive heat and cold both tend to be nearly windless.
Given this the only way to get 100% renewables is with unbelievably massive amounts of energy storage, which means batteries. Ironically, this means the State is running on toxic chemical energy. There are in fact what are called “utility scale” battery systems, but they are minuscule compared to powering Colorado, or even Denver, for most of an entire week of peak demand.
In fact Colorado is planning on building the nation’s largest utility scale battery system, to store energy from a big new solar generator. But this is as nothing compared to peak demand. All of the big battery systems in the country, probably in the world, are as nothing compared to Colorado’s peak energy usage.
Simply put, the technology does not exist to feasibly generate 100% re able electricity. That Governor Polis thinks it does exist raises some very interesting questions. He is presently a Congressman from a district that includes Boulder, Colorado. Boulder County is the home of DOE’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC).
Surely these NWTC experts know that Polis’s grand goal is impossible. Have they not told him? Even worse, have they told him it is possible? Is The Wind Technology Center perhaps leading this renewable energy fantasy, hoping for a bonanza in research funding to try to make it feasible?
Polis’s district also includes NSF’s infamous National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), one of the world’s leading climate alarmist centers. NCAR’s monster computer climate models are the wellspring of climate alarmism. They too are probably feeding his green frenzy.
In short, under Governor Polis and the new Democrat legislature, Colorado may be about to overtake California as the leader in green energy madness. The big question is, are these politicians stupid or lying? It is hard to tell.