DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday struck down local hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, bans and moratoriums. The ruling will have a dramatic impact on efforts to limit the controversial method of producing oil and gas.
The ruling was a big victory for the oil and gas industry in Colorado.
In December the Colorado Oil and Gas Association made its arguments before the state Supreme Court saying it believes local bans go against the rights of property owners, and that only the state should be allowed to regulate energy.
The high court ruled against local measures to regulate fracking, striking down both a voter-approved fracking ban in Longmont, and a five-year moratorium in Fort Collins.
“This is a win for every Coloradan who depends on affordable and dependable energy, and it’s a win for this economy,” Colorado Oil and Gas Association CEO Dan Haley told CBS4’s Lauren DiSpirito.
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Haley says the rulings validate his industry’s stance, and that other communities considering similar bans should withdraw.
“It is now time for all the stakeholders in this to sit down and talk about how we responsibly develop natural resources,” he said. “What this court ruling does is send a message that Colorado is open for business.”
While Fort Collins City Attorney Carrie Daggett called it “premature” to comment, Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs issued a statement saying, “The case did not end as the city hoped, but we respect the Supreme Court’s decision.”
“I don’t think that the industry should be forcing fracking and oil and gas activity down people’s throats that have clearly voiced their opposition to it,” said Lauren Petrie, Rocky Mountain Region Director of Food and Water Watch.
Activists say they now plan to work harder to put initiatives to limit oil and gas development statewide on the November ballot, saying measures are needed to protect people’s health and the environment.
Petrie called the ruling “devastating, not just to Longmont residents, but to Coloradans across this state.”
“Clearly we’re not getting that from the governor, the state, or the courts; so we need to do this for ourselves,” Petrie said. “People should be outraged at the power of the industry. They are the only industry that sues when they can’t get exactly what they want.”
Monday afternoon Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office put out a statement expressing appreciation for the court’s “guidance on balancing private property rights and local government jurisdiction.”
Haley says he’s not aware of any oil and gas companies with imminent plans to develop in Longmont or Fort Collins. He says it’s too soon to know when that may happen following Monday’s ruling.