DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. John Hickenlooper says he won’t tolerate cities and towns that ban oil and gas drilling within their borders and he promises to take them to court.

(credit: CBS)

CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd sat down with the governor, who was blunt. He told Boyd the state will sue any local government that bans hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the drilling technique that uses high-pressure water and chemicals to extract natural gas.

“Nothing makes me less happy then to have to be in a lawsuit with a municipality,” Hickenlooper said.

If that’s true, the governor is an unhappy man these days. Four months after suing the city of Longmont for banning fracking, the state now plans to go after Fort Collins after its city council gave initial approval of a ban on fracking this week.

“The bottom line is, the way we have a split estate in this part of the world – pretty much all of the western United States — someone paid money to buy mineral rights under that land,” Hickenlooper said. “You can’t harvest the mineral rights without doing hydraulic fracturing, which I think we’ve demonstrated again and again can be done safely.”

But anti-fracking activists point to a spill near Windsor where 84,000 gallons of fracking fluid spewed out this month. State regulators say a spill that size is rare and they found no groundwater contamination.

Still, with 50,000 active wells in the state, opponents are pushing for bans statewide. The governor put them on notice by issuing a warning to any city that bans fracking.

“That’s a taking from their own citizens,” he said. “”Essentially what they’re saying is, ‘We ban anyone from getting those minerals out from what they bought, from what they paid for. It’s not fair.”

“So you’ll go around the state and sue every city and county that passes a ban?” Boyd asked Hickenlooper.

“We have to, we have no choice,” he responded.

Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat says while it’s the state’s right to sue, Fort Collins is a home-rule city and they want to make their own land-use decisions.

The city council takes a final vote on the ban next week. It passed 5-2 on its first reading.

Comments (17)
  1. Ken Gallaher says:

    Fine so let’s frack in his front yard

  2. Barbara Kemper says:

    This article was six years ago. Did he????

  3. Hickenlooper is threatening ecocide, that should be a felony offense. Come on CBS hold his feet to the fire on this.

  4. Candace Hyde-wang says:

    This guy is a disgrace to the human race. Fracking releases methane which is killing our planet. And we do not need the gas. Renewables are taking over.

  5. John S Mellow says:

    Keep your ambulance chasing butt out of Pennsylvania.

  6. I was involved with Ft Collins fracking ballot initiative from its inception. helped to found “Citizens for a Healthy Ft Collins. I was terminally ill at the time, stage four COPD. I had trouble breathing and had near constant lung infections. I saw multiple specialists. No doctor would discuss fracking as a possible culprit. One dr told me he didn’t want to hire an attorney just to treat one patient, explaining that he would have to deal with Big Oil harassment. I managed to get a lung transplant, and with the additional energy I plan to dig deeper into activism…God Bless!

  7. Sandra Loubet says:

    Who is it that thinks they have the right to buy the minerals under the ground? It’s like someone saying, “I’ve bought all the ground water, it’s mine and I can get it as much as I want and do whatever I want with it.” Mineral rights historically have been owned by the government, very few by the people themselves unless they have old claims. Is Cheney involved in this? Whoever it is, needs to be out in the open. That’s who needs to be stopped and investigated.

  8. April Pierson-Keating says:

    Wonder how much the legal fees would be to the state for taking out lawsuits on every town that bans fracking. Why would you even threaten such a thing? That’s like threatening people for trying to protect their families, their water and air, and their health. What a knuckle-dragger. Does this guy EVER read ANYTHING? There are tons of reports and studies that show damage from fracking AND cover-ups. Wake up, Hick-man. You are asleep at the wheel and your constituents are going to pay for it. Hell, they should sue YOU!

  9. Richard L Grant says:

    There goes his run for the Democratic nomination. He appears to be in the pocket of Big Oil.

  10. Baruch Zeichner says:

    The governor is actively working against democracy and the health and safety of the citizens. Alrighty then!

  11. Welcome to CO-ligarchy where you can’t ban toxic fracking, but life saving cannabis needs more regulation…

  12. MB says:

    Wow how awful! We live in Colorado! We have the resources for natural energy. If we put more effort there fracking would be obsolete in the next 10 – possibly 20 years! Another great example of a horrible politician.

  13. na says:

    there are more ways to extract oil then Fracking, SAG-D, INSITU for example, the companies are just being cheep because Fracking is the cheepest way to extract oil

  14. John Dwyer says:

    Mr. Hickenlooper, if you believe fracking has been demonstrated again and again and again to be “safe,” you’re even crazier than this article’s pic makes you look. Think, man. Shut off your television and search the internet.

  15. John Strohl says:

    More to the point, why the constant insistence that “there’s no threat” from fracking? Of course there is a threat, when you break things the underground doesn’t behave like it should anymore. It disrupts everything, not JUST the layer where the oil/gas is! Who do they think they are kidding? Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to re-look the whole “split estate” situation that got us into this mess. There should be NO division of surface rights and subsurface rights. It’s that simple.

  16. chrisnglenn says:

    My cousin is a geophysicist and says WITHOUT A DOUBT that fracking is responsible for the huge upswing in earthquakes, including some right here in Colorado. I mean, what did they think was going to happen when they lubricate the faults?

  17. rd says:

    Soooo safe that water is contaminated, and other avid fracking states are phasing out fracking dure to earthquakes caused by…. fracking.

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