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Oil And Gas Regulators Vote To Dismiss Longmont Fracking Suit

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A drilling operation in Erie (credit: CBS)

A drilling operation in Erie (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) - Oil and gas regulators in Colorado decided on Thursday to drop a lawsuit against the city of Longmont over its voter-approved energy development ban, but said it reserved the right to sue later if necessary.

The move was part of a compromise brokered earlier this week by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who sought to ease tension over the suit and table oil and gas-related ballot measures. The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry in the state, held the vote.

In 2012, Longmont voters approved restricted oil and gas development. The industry sued — and was later joined by the state and COGCC — arguing that the city overstepped its authority to enact energy restrictions.

In response, residents passed another ballot initiative that banned hydraulic fracturing — or fracking. A district judge in Boulder struck down that measure in July.

On Tuesday, the governor announced the deal alongside Rep. Jared Polis, who had backed two anti-fracking measures, one of which would increase the setback for drilling rigs from 500 feet to 2,000 feet. The oil and gas industry, and Hickenlooper, supported two pro-fracking measures that were expected to be on November’s ballot.

Under the compromise, all four ballot measures would be tossed.

Fracking is an energy development process that injects water below ground to crack rocks and free trapped oil and gas.

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