Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) loves fracking — he once even drank fracking fluid to prove it — but other elected officials in the state are not so gung ho. A handful of Colorado cities are trying to limit or ban the practice — and are finding that it’s not so easy to do.
Boulder is the latest Colorado municipality to take on the frackers. Last week, its city council unanimously passed a one-year moratorium on fracking within city limits and on city-owned open space, and council members are considering options for a more long-term policy. From the Boulder Daily Camera:
Several council members … said they are warm to the idea of bringing forward a ballot measure in November to approve a longer-term ban — a process that would involve study sessions and public hearings in coming months. …
Several residents asked the City Council to go further by approving a longer fracking moratorium, an all-out ban or turning the issue over to voters. …
[But a]n analysis by Boulder City Attorney Tom Carr determined a one-year moratorium was the safest option because it addresses public health and safety concerns while protecting the city against potential lawsuits.
Boulder is right to be worried about lawsuits. The city of Longmont, Colo., where voters passed a fracking ban in November, has been sued by both the state government and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. The industry argues that the fracking ban constitutes an illegal “taking” of mineral property and that only the state has the authority to regulate such practices.
Fear of lawsuits prompted the Fort Collins City Council last month to ease its recent ban on fracking. Prospect Energy, which had been fracking within city limits before the council passed the ban in March, will be allowed to resume its operations. From a May 22 article in the Fort Collins Coloradoan:
Mayor pro tem Gerry Horak said the council had little choice on the matter.
To continue the ban on Prospect Energy would invite a lawsuit the city would have little chance of winning, he said.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association is taking the lead in fighting frack-averse cities. You might recall that this association tried to convince Fort Collins to shy away from a fracking ban by providing the city council with a petition full of fake signatures. The Coloradoan now brings us the news that the city’s police department is investigating whether any crimes were committed in producing that seemingly bogus petition.