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Colorado Town 'Indefinitely' Postpones Oil/Gas Moratorium Vote

One of the Colorado towns that started a series of local government moves to halt oil/natural gas drilling several years ago, Broomfield, saw its city council Tuesday night vote to indefinitely postpone action on a proposed oil/gas moratorium.

The city council, however, did appoint a 12-member city committee that will address oil/gas issues and will begin meeting later in March.

A little more than three years ago, Broomfield voters came close to passing an initiative that would have imposed a five-year ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) when a measure missed passage by 13 votes out of a total of 20,519 votes cast on election night.

Although not all of the local governments that had imposed oil/gas restrictions in recent years have acquiesced since a state Supreme Court ruling reinforced the state's exclusivity in overseeing oil and natural gas drilling, Broomfield seems to be onboard, reiterating on its city website that "local governments cannot prohibit oil and gas development within their jurisdictions."

The city posting noted that "the Colorado Supreme Court has held that most regulatory aspects of oil and gas development are preempted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and beyond the authority of local governments."

According to the website, Broomfield's current goal is to "develop a strategy and legally permissible tools" that best reflect the city's community values. In this regard the council has pledged to work with local citizens and the COGCC, along with current oil/gas operators in the city.

While the Colorado Oil & Gas Association has opposed the local initiatives in recent years, citizen reactions have been mixed, and financial analysts watching the oil/gas sector have expressed concerns, noting ballot initiatives aimed at the industry could become more common.

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