The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) on Tuesday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by local control activists against the industry group, the state and Gov. John Hickenlooper. COGA also is seeking court sanctions against the activists for the allegedly frivolous lawsuits.
COGA's motion was filed with Boulder District Court Judge D.D. Mallard, who recently conducted a hearing regarding a separate case on the oil and natural gas industry’s legal challenges to the Longmont, CO ban on drilling, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking), within the city (see Shale Daily, July 15).
In a decision earlier this year, Mallard denied the petition of Cliff Willmeng and East Boulder County United (EBCU) to intervene in a challenge by COGA to the ban on energy-related activities in Lafayette, CO. Both COGA and the city of Lafayette opposed the attempt to intervene.
Willmeng and Ann Griffin subsequently filed the latest class action lawsuit, prompting COGA to seek dismissal, and ask that the two individuals be sanctioned for submitting pleadings that include "frivolous arguments or arguments that have no evidentiary support," under Colorado's civil procedure rules.
COGA said the legal action by Willmeng was a "last-ditch effort" to prevent a court ruling on the disputed Lafayette ban. Willmeng's claim of violations of "self-determination" are groundless, according to COGA.
"The legal action [by Willmeng/Griffin] is without foundation and again reflects the utter disregard Mr. Willmeng has for our judicial system and the taxpayers who fund it," said COGA CEO Tisha Schuller. "We're seeking sanctions to hold the plaintiffs and their legal counsel accountable...for inflicting deceptive energy bans on Colorado communities like Lafayette."
COGA has asked to be reimbursed for the administrative costs incurred in responding to the complaint. "Should COGA receive an award, the proceeds would be contributed to the Emergency Family Assistance Association, a charity in Boulder that assists in providing immediate needs of food, shelter and other basic necessities, a spokesperson said.
COGA's latest motion is part of a broader strategy for challenging the legality of local energy bans and moratoria throughout the state in which a half-dozen drilling restrictions have been adopted (see Shale Daily, Dec. 4, 2013).