Elected officials in Fort Collins, CO, 60 miles north of Denver, on Tuesday rejected two proposals to extend the city’s oil/natural gas drilling moratorium, which is set to expire at the end of July. The measures were defeated on 4-3 votes of the seven-member city council.
Separately, the City of Boulder, CO, on Tuesday night voted tentatively to put a ballot measure for voters to decide to impose a moratorium, even though Boulder has no drilling activity or proposed drilling within its boundaries. The measure still requires a second reading and vote, which are scheduled for Aug. 20, a city spokesperson told NGI‘s Shale Daily on Wednesday.
In Fort Collins, Councilman Gerry Horak who provided the swing vote told local news media that the moratorium issue should be delayed until the outcome of a citizen-initiated petition drive that would put a measure on the ballot to impose a five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in November.
Tuesday’s action did not affect the existing fracking ban in Fort Collins established earlier this year (see Shale Daily, March 7). That ban does not apply to Prospect Energy, the city’s sole oil/gas development company with operations within its city limits.
Doug Flanders, policy director at the Colorado Oil/Gas Association (COGA), was philosophical about the decision not to extend the moratorium in Fort Collins, noting the city now joins a majority of small jurisdictions in Colorado that have resolved the issue through dialogue.
According to COGA statistics, 26 separate jurisdictions have considered mortoria, regulations, bans or memoranda of understanding directed at fracking or oil/gas drilling generally. Twenty-two of those jurisdictions have resolved the issue otherwise.
Flanders said in contrast to Fort Collins, Boulder city officials’ action was “purely symbolic” because the city has “zero permit activity, zero production and zero interest” in oil/gas production.
Asserting that Boulder is known for its “professional activists who believe it is hip to be against oil and gas at this time,” Flanders said the citizens of Colorado more generally “realize complex matters take more than a sound bite to solve, and banning a product we all use every minute of our lives is both short-sighted and damaging” to the state’s efforts for compromise and reasonableness.
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