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Anti-Fracking Initiative Will Have Far-Reaching Ramifications

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – A ballot measure being voted on that would limit oil and gas hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Fort Collins, Boulder, Lafayette and Broomfield may automatically trigger a massive lawsuit from the state.

The outcome of the anti-fracking initiatives has far reaching ramifications, and not just for the four communities voting on them.

“Wyoming is watching this closely, New Mexico is watching this closely,” Russell Mendell said.

Mendell heads up Frack Free Colorado, the group pushing the measures.

“We are looking to move beyond fossil fuels, that’s the wave of the future, that where we’re headed,” Mendell said.

“Wind and solar are not going to power the economy, they’re not going to keep our homes warm in the winter right now, and it would have a devastating impact if moved down this direction,” former state Rep. Don Beezley said.

Beezley lives in Broomfield, one of the cities considering a moratorium. He admits the industry has spent millions of dollars on ads to fight the measures, but says it employs more than 30,000 people in Colorado.

“We’ve got to fight for our jobs, fight for our industry, because it is a significant risk with bans,” Beezley said. “They are bans, they are not timeouts.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper told CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd he will sue any community that bans fracking. He says the state constitution splits surface and mineral rights and bans violate that. State law also gives the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission rule-making authority, not local governments.

“What we’re doing is we’re doing the science first before allowing this into communities,” Medell said.

“There have been literally hundreds if not thousands of studies,” Beezley said. “The real agenda behind this is very much a fringe environmentalist agenda.”

Voters will decide how fringe it is as Colorado once again becomes the testing ground in a national debate.

Longmont voters passed a ban on fracking last year. The state and Colorado Oil and Gas Commission sued the city. The case has yet to go to court.

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