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Colorado small businesses worried about job loss from Proposition 112

Posted at 5:24 PM, Oct 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-05 01:04:26-04

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Colorado's largest oil and gas companies are fighting for their future this election with Proposition 112, but so are the countless other small businesses who support the state's thriving energy industry.

"It's scary, it's something we think about every day," said Zach Neal with Expedition Water Solutions, a local company based in Castle Rock that provides support services for the oil industry.

Prop. 112 is a statewide ballot measure to increase the setback for new wells to 2,500 feet from homes, schools, and even playgrounds.

Supporters argue the measure is about protecting Coloradans' health and safety and creating better local control and common sense buffer zones between fracking sites and communities, while opponents see the measure as a job killer that will cripple Colorado's economy.

"I have two signs in my front yard and all of our employees have signs and placards, trying to talk to as many people as we can," said Neal. "With [Prop] 112 in place, none of our customers are going to be drilling. It's a ban on oil and gas." 

Neal helped build Expedition Water Solutions from the ground up.

"Whenever you drill an oil well not just oil and gas comes out of the ground, but also water," Neal explained. "We take that water, clean it up, and then return it back to where it came from."

Just like Colorado's shale drillers, his company has benefited from the oil boom and Neal said had plans to keep growing until this measure made the ballot.

"We are not going to grow at all, we are going to shrink," he said.

Neal said Prop. 112 not only threatens their growth, he's worried he may have to lay off workers.

"What are they going to do, what are they going to tell their families when suddenly mommy and daddy don't have a job?" he said.

Supporters of Prop. 112 also stress more than 50,000 existing oil and gas sites can still operate under the measure.

For Neal, he said the hardest part is not having any real control over the future of his company's livelihood.

"You know you're doing it well, and to know that you had a plan to keep doing what you were doing and to have that taken away -- is tough," he said.

Prop. 112 is one of the most contentious issues this election. Denver7 is taking a 360 look at many more perspectives on this initiative on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 10 p.m.