Citizen Action Monitor

Citizen activists and Colorado governor clash over municipal fracking ban

Governor Hickenlooper told citizens the state will support any lawsuit by fracking companies to kill fracking ban

No 637 Posted by fw, December 20, 2012

The oil and gas industry on Monday hit Longmont with a lawsuit to kill voters’ recent ban on fracking within city limits. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association contends the ban is illegal because it denies mineral owners the right to develop their property and blocks operations that state laws allow Longmont leaders vowed to fight back” —Loveland Reporter Herald

Colorado oil and gas industry sues to kill Longmont fracking ban by Bruce Finley of the Denver Post, published in the Loveland Reporter Herald, December 17, 2012

The oil and gas industry on Monday hit Longmont with a lawsuit to kill voters’ recent ban on fracking within city limits.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association [COGA] contends the ban is illegal because it denies mineral owners the right to develop their property and blocks operations that state laws allow. COGA has asked Weld County district court to invalidate the resolution passed by Longmont voters.

“We recognize and understand that the citizens of Longmont are concerned about the safety of their environment,” COGA president Tisha Schuller said in a written statement.

“We hope that the lawsuit can be quickly resolved,” Schuller continued, so that industry and the city can cooperate “to address those concerns in a way that does not illegally preclude the safe and responsible development of oil and gas reserves.”

Longmont leaders vowed to fight back.

“We will vigorously defend our charter and the will of the people,” City Council woman Katie Witt said.

The voters on Nov. 6. changed the city charter to prohibit fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, and the storage of fracking waste in the city. Energy companies frack by blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to loosen oil and gas held in rock.

Colorado residents elsewhere along the Front Range also are pushing to ban oil and gas operations inside municipal limits. Local governments face intensifying pressures as drilling expands close to communities. They’ve tried to respond to constituents by toughening health and safety regulations that could withstand legal challenges.

However, when Longmont’s council passed tougher regulations this year, Gov. John Hickenlooper directed state attorneys to sue the city, challenging local authority.

“The governor believes Longmont’s fracking ban violates the law and we aren’t surprised that the city has been sued,” the governor’s spokesman, Eric Brown, said.

State lawmakers have established the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to simultaneously regulate and promote development of oil and gas resources. COGA’s lawsuit aims to set a precedent.

Hickenlooper on Dec. 6 said the state will not sue Longmont again over the action of voters but that it will support any lawsuit by companies.

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This entry was posted on December 20, 2012 by in community action, environmental activism, grassroots planning, legal counterpower, political action and tagged .
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