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Temporary Oil & Gas Permit Moratorium Fuels Debate On Proposition 112

By Rick Sallinger

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - The Adams County Commissioners have voted for a moratorium on issuance of any further oil and gas permits until Nov. 30. The action will prevent any last minute filing of requests before the vote on Proposition 112, or if it passes, before it could take effect.

The proposition declares a 2,500 foot minimum distance from homes, schools or other "vulnerable areas" to where drilling could take place.

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In one Adams county neighborhood, Halloween may be spooky, but what really has people concerned is the ballot measure.

People like the Nyholms who live near 138th Avenue and Franklin Street are among those who want the measure to pass.

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Chris Nyholm says property values and living style could be impacted.

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"We thought we were in a nice, quiet neighborhood. If you have a large scale industrial site up the road, some people don't see that as a desirable location."

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But there are also stickers and signs against the proposition. Oil means jobs and money. One home has an oil well in the back.

By a 4-1 vote, the Adams County Commissioners voted for a temporary moratorium. No more permits for oil and gas facilities until the end of November.

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Opponents of the proposition were not happy.

Rich Coolidge speaks for Vital for Colorado, one of the groups opposing the proposition. He says the vote by the commissioners was not right.

"This resolution was about Proposition 112, which a vast majority of voters, we predict, will be voting against, and they are predicting their outcome putting their thumb on the scale a week before the election," he said. "It was sort of under the dark of night they passed this resolution. It's not even an ordinance for the county."

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The oil and gas industry has gone all out to defeat the proposition. It warns if it passes the industry in Colorado and the state's economy will be severely damaged.

RELATED: Reality Check: Ad On Divisive Proposition 112 

But many of those who live where more wells could come in see it differently.

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"It only in terms of health effects, but then they could drill close to our homes," said Stewart Nyholm.

The moratorium ends on Nov. 30 or when further action is taken by the commissioners.

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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