Three Colorado towns voted decisively to ban the controversial oil and gas extraction technique known as fracking on Tuesday, but the fate of one city’s proposed five-year ban is up in the air after falling 13 votes short of passing.
The final outcome of Broomfield’s vote won’t be clear for at least a month as officials count overseas and military ballots, provisional ballots, ballots with problems, and previously-rejected ballots. Even then, a recount is likely, as Colorado law requires a recount if the margin of victory is within half a percent of the total number of votes cast on the winning side.
With the latest count at 10,266 votes against banning hydraulic fracturing and 10,253 in favor of the ban, a margin of fewer than 51 votes would be enough to trigger a recount. And even if that doesn’t happen, supporters plan to pay for a recount.
Broomfield’s vote against fracking was one of four across Colorado’s Front Range, coming after unprecedented flooding in Colorado that resulted in more than 40,000 gallons of oil and gas spilling from wells into the floodwaters.
The state of Colorado’s recent lawsuit against the city of Longmont for a similar ban didn’t deter grassroots volunteers from going door-to-door drumming up support to keep fracking out of their communities. And the more than $600,000 spent by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association to try and kill the initiatives didn’t stop them either.
Though drilling isn’t yet happening in many of these towns, Merrily Mazza, now city council member-elect in Lafayette, told Climate Progress in October that the initiatives were a preventative measure. “Eventually it will come here,” she said. “What are we waiting for? Are we waiting for someone to show up?”