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Colorado City Considering Five-Year Fracking Ban

The seven-member city council in Fort Collins, CO, on Tuesday will decide how to handle a proposed five-year hydraulic fracturing (fracking) moratorium in the city -- either through passage of an ordinance or letting local voters decide in a November ballot measure.

Earlier this month the Fort Collins city clerk's office certified that there were enough valid signatures from a petition measure to ban fracking to put the proposal on the ballot. Citizens for Healthy Fort Collins had proposed the ordinance language and collected the signatures.

The draft ordinance states that for protection of public health, safety and welfare and many other reasons, "a moratorium on fracking and the storage of its waste products within the city" is needed for a five-year period "without exemption or exception," allowing time to study the impacts on people and property.

Black Diamond Minerals' Prospect Energy LLC, the only exploration and production (E&P) operator in Fort Collins, expressed some frustration about anti-fracking advocates. Prospect officials have said they view the proposed fracking ban as "unnecessary." The proposed moratorium would negate an exemption the E&P had from a drilling moratorium that expired at the end of July. Last month, Fort Collins officials rejected two citizen proposals to extend the drilling moratorium beyond July (see Shale DailyJuly 22).

"This [draft] ordinance will call for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing pending the completion of independent, peer-reviewed health impact studies, to protect and ensure the health and safety of all citizens of our community," said Citizens for Healthy Fort Collins' Matthew Martinez.

Producers have warned that the gas production could decline if other municipalities also took up action to ban or place a moratorium on unconventional drilling. Counties and cities across the state have ignored state officials' warnings and have implemented various forms restrictions on drilling generally, and fracking in particular (see Shale DailyJuly 17March 1).

 Fort Collins is the county seat of Larimer County, CO. Since 1988, the county has never accounted for more than 0.7% of the annual drilling permits issued by the state, and what little permitting activity there has been in Larimer County has all but dried up in 2013, with only one permit issued through July 12.

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