Following threats earlier in the year from Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC) has joined a lawsuit by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) against the city of Longmont's ban last year on hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
COGA filed a motion in Boulder County District Court to add the OGCC to the ongoing legal challenge.
Last November, Longmont voters passed a ballot initiative, Question 300, banning the use of fracking by oil and natural gas drillers within the city limits (see Shale Daily, Nov. 8, 2012). Earlier this year, Longmont drew some support when attorneys for the Sierra Club and Earthworks filed a motion to intervene in the legal action against the city (see Shale Daily, Feb. 19).
While not denying its link to COGA's legal action, OGCC officials are distancing themselves from the industry a bit. OGCC Executive Director Matt Lepore issued a statement saying "OGCC did not initiate this lawsuit, or this process," emphasizing that the state's inclusion was the result of "a legal step initiated by COGA."
However, Lepore also pointed out that OGCC "does believe Longmont's ban on hydraulic fracturing is contrary to state law, and we believe clarity from the courts on this matter is important for all parties."
Earlier this year, Hickenlooper vowed to continue to take legal action against cities and counties that enact fracking bans (see Shale Daily, March 1). He specifically referenced a patchwork of local ordinances regarding oil and natural gas drilling, such as last year's move in Longmont (see Shale Daily, Aug. 17, 2012).
Longmont's ballot initiative, which followed earlier city council action, drew 60% support of the voters. The legal skirmish comes at a time of heightened oil and gas activity in Colorado, where nearly all drilling involves the use of fracking.
COGA policy director Doug Flanders said that the industry's lawsuit is currently before a judge in the state district court, "but beyond that, we don't think it is appropriate to comment on pending litigation."