BROOMFIELD, Colo. (AP) – Colorado’s powerful oil and gas industry took a hit Tuesday when voters in three Front Range cities voted to ban hydraulic fracturing despite intense industry lobbying against the bans.
A fourth measure on the ballot in Broomfield was failing by just 13 votes at the end of the unofficial count, with ban advocates not conceding defeat.
Tuesday’s votes gave drilling critics hope that Colorado voters may be amenable to more sweeping statewide action to rein in oil and gas drilling.
Voters in Fort Collins passed a five-year halt to fracking in Tuesday’s election while Lafayette voters banned all new oil and gas drilling in the city. Citizens in those two cities petitioned to get the measures on ballots after city councilors rejected pursuing bans.
Boulder voters also backed a fracking ban.
“We were up against some very powerful opposition, and we didn’t cave,” said Laura Fronckiewicz, head of the fracking opposition campaign in Broomfield, a stay-at-home mom who campaigned during nap time and felt optimistic Wednesday about the measure’s chances despite victory declarations from the industry.
The powerful Colorado Oil & Gas Association, which far outspent drilling critics in all four towns, seemed undeterred by the votes.
“This election represents round one with many more rounds to come,” COGA head Tisha Schuller said in a statement.
A recount was expected in Broomfield because of the razor-thin margin.
Drilling critics are mulling a possible statewide fracking moratorium on 2014 ballots. They are also likely to seek additional industry curbs in the Democratic state Legislature, which last session added some industry oversight but stopped short of hiking fines or more serious curbs.
Longmont is awaiting a court date to resolve a lawsuit from COGA and the state over that town’s 2012 voter-approved ban on fracking, and the storage and disposal of fracking waste, within the city limits.
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