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.

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 (7)
  1. rd says:

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

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

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

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