As the natural gas industry tries to fight Colorado’s voter-passed fracking bans in court, organizers are working on a ballot initiative that would ensure local governments have the right to ban drilling.
In November, four Colorado towns passed ballot initiatives that either banned or put moratoria on hydraulic fracturing: Broomfield, Fort Collins, Lafayette, and Boulder. Broomfield’s vote was so close that its results are pending a ruling from a judge, prompted by a separate energy industry lawsuit. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) quickly filed suit over two of the bans, arguing that only the state has the authority to ban drilling, and that communities can’t decide for themselves.
But the activists behind the fracking bans have formed the Colorado Community Rights Network to work on an amendment to the Colorado state constitution that would appear on the ballot in November. Organizers plan to finish language for the ballot initiative in the next week or so, after which they would have to collect signatures to get it on the ballot.
Cliff Willment, with the East Boulder County United group that pushed for the fracking ban in Lafayette, told the Denver Business Journal after the votes that the right to ban fracking was about democracy for the people of Colorado. “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.