Amendment 74 Could End Colorado's Environmental Protections

If you value your health, birds, and the environment, vote against it.

What if environmental protections ceased to exist in Colorado? Development restrictions to protect Important Bird Areas? Gone. Required buffer zones for wildlife migration? Gone.  Regulations on industrial discharges to streams? Mining reclamation standards? Scrubbers on smokestacks to protect your air? Gone, gone, gone.

If Amendment 74 (A74) passes this November, all this and more could happen. In essence, A74 would require Coloradans to pay industry not to pollute their environment and poison their families. Here’s how it would work:

Photo: Antti T. Nissinen/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A74 would require governments to compensate property owners for any reduction in property value as a result of a government regulation. Since no level of government in Colorado operates at a surplus, the only option would be to eliminate regulations. Proponents claim that the measures protect private property rights, but in reality they elevate commercial property owners over all others.

A74 isn’t specific to the environment; it targets ALL regulations that cost money to comply with. Restaurant health regulations cost money, so those would also be eliminated. Zoning regulations—like prohibiting adult bookshops next to schools—would also be off the table.

One important caveat is that the requirement for compensation only applies to the property owner seeking to avoid regulation. Suppose you’re a surface owner of a split estate and the mineral rights owner wants to drill in your front yard. Could you claim compensation if your property value plummeted as a result? No, because your loss in value would not be due to a regulation. Good news though: you could operate a landfill in your backyard!

Lastly, the amendment only applies to private owners and increases costs to the public. Governments would still need to meet regulations and could face significantly higher costs to do so. For example, federal water standards would still apply to public water providers, so Denver Water and others would still need to provide safe drinking water. The water flowing into their facilities, however, would be significantly more polluted as a result of nonexistent regulations on upstream industries. It’s pretty easy to guess who would have to pay the increased treatment costs: you.

Alpine Lake in State Forest State Park, Colorado.
If you value Colorado's environment, vote against Amendment 74. Photo: Photo: Evan Barrientos

Given the extreme threat to public health, the environment, and the quality of life in Colorado, A74 is the most dangerous issue to appear on the ballot in over 20 years. If you care about birds, wildlife, or your health, vote no on A74 and tell your friends to do the same.

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