Four Colorado towns voted for bans or moratoria on hydraulic fracturing in November, but the oil and gas industry wants to repeal three of them in court. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), the industry trade group, is arguing that only the state has the authority to ban drilling, and that Coloradans can not decide to keep it out of their communities.
COGA filed suit Tuesday against three of the four towns: Fort Collins, Lafayette, and Broomfield, but not Boulder, which passed a similar five-year moratorium on fracking.
The results of Broomfield’s vote were uncertain until Tuesday, when a recount found that the measure had passed by 20 votes out of nearly 21,000 ballots counted. The recount came after the vote initially came 13 votes shy of passage, then 17 votes ahead, triggering a mandatory recount.
Lafayette’s measure is a total ban on new oil and gas wells, while Fort Collins imposed a five-year moratorium.
The CEO and President of COGA, Tisha Schuller, claimed in a statement that activists were to blame for using “fear and misinformation” to push illegal bans.
But former state representative and frack ban advocate BJ Nikkel told the Denver Business Journal that the votes were a matter of democracy for Colorado communities. “We maintain that people do have the right to self-determination and clearly the oil and gas industry has lost public credibility, they can’t win at the ballot box and this is the last resort — corporate attorneys and litigation,” he said.
COGA is also in the middle of suing the town of Longmont, Colorado, for regulations on drilling passed by its city council, including restrictions on drilling in residential areas.