Despite the threat of legal action from Gov. John Hickenlooper, the city council of Fort Collins, CO, has adopted a resolution banning hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within city limits.
The council approved by a 5-2 vote an ordinance “to impose a ban on hydraulic fracturing and certain storage of wastes with in the city (except with a council-approved operator agreement.”
Officials in Fort Collins, which is nearly 60 miles north of Denver, had given a version of the ordinance their initial approval last month. A coalition of businesses, energy and local government interests opposed to the measure had pushed for it to be rejected on its second vote.
The original ordinance had included a ban “on oil and gas operations,” in addition to the fracking ban. But the council’s decision to approve an ordinance that does not include those five words does not diminish its harm to oil and gas development, according to Tisha Schuller, CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA).
“We are very disappointed that the Fort Collins City Council voted to pass such an unnecessary and punitive ban,” Schuller said. “COGA is evaluating taking legal action; the State Supreme Court has clearly stated that drilling cannot be banned within a city, county, or municipality. Because any new wells in Fort Collins would be hydraulically fractured, a ban on hydraulic fracturing is a ban on oil and gas development.”
COGA has threatened to take legal action in the Fort Collins case, and it already has in the case of Longmont, CO’s ballot measure banning fracking within the city’s jurisdiction. The state has also filed a lawsuit against Longmont in Boulder County District Court for attempting to usurp state prerogatives. The Fort Collins City Council last month passed a resolution supporting Longmont’s ban.
Hickenlooper said recently he will continue to take legal action against cities and counties that insist on passing bans on the use of fracking.
The industry and government contend that the state’s rules for drilling, including fracking, are among the strongest in the nation. Hickenlooper has argued that fracking can be done safely without endangering local water supplies or the general environment.
To that end, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission earlier this year established new setback and water testing rules that go beyond what COGA and individual producers thought was necessary.
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