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Two Colorado Towns Move to Restrict Oil, Gas Activities

Broomfield, CO, voters on Tuesday passed a ballot measure to impose local oversight over oil and natural gas activities, and earlier this week the Lafayette, CO, city council enacted a six-month moratorium on drilling activities.

In Broomfield, an estimated 57% of the voters approved Question 301, an amendment to the home rule charter requiring protection of health, safety and the environment as a precondition for drilling within city limits. 

Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) CEO Dan Haley said Question 301 is an attempt to override state authority.

"Passage of 301 jeopardizes the collaborative process undertaken by a variety of community stakeholders over the past year in developing recommendations for future energy development, and instead puts Broomfield and their taxpayers in a difficult legal position," Haley said.

Meanwhile, in nearby Lafayette, the council established a six-month moratorium on land and special-use applications for oil and gas exploration/extraction, essentially creating a moratorium on all activities. It originally had proposed a 12-month moratorium.

"The timeout will provide staff and councilmembers a period of time to investigate the ability of the city to regulate oil/gas operational impacts on the city and its citizens, and to develop and implement any appropriate regulations needed," Lafayette leaders said on the city’s website.

The council also approved an ordinance allowing oil and gas code amendments to bypass the city planning commission and be heard directly by the council to expedite the hearing process.

COGA last month submitted comments to the Lafayette council urging further discussion and a review of Colorado case law, Haley noted.

Colorado courts have struck down bans and moratoria “time and again, and we know that reasonable solutions can be found, particularly in this case,” Haley said. "Drilling along Colorado’s Front Range has occurred for more than 100 years, as we have one of the most prolific – and most regulated – natural resource basins in the country.”

He said "talking and working through issues is always preferred to contentious efforts that could lead to expensive litigation funded on the backs of taxpayers.”

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