12:27pm

Tue December 18, 2012
Business

COGA Sues Longmont Over Fracking Ban

Initiative 300, which banned fracking within Longmont city limits, passed in November despite oil and gas companies raising close to a half million dollars toward defeat of the measure. The ban will now face an industry legal challenge.

Earlier this year, Governor Hickenlooper said an extended battle between the state and the city of Longmont could be costly for both sides. However, the state decided earlier in December to not interfere with the will of Longmont voters. While the state of Colorado had declined to file against Initiative 300, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) haven’t and filed suit Tuesday.

COGA says the ban, approved by voters in November, illegally prohibits the safe and responsible development of oil and gas. The state has said in the past it would support any legal action taken by the oil and gas industry.

That isn’t sitting well with groups like Food and Water Watch that helped pass the ban. They’re meeting with a team of legal experts to see how to best support the city and defend the ban.

"The people of Longmont spoke resoundingly 60 percent to 40 percent a month and a half ago to say they did not want fracking next to their homes and schools. And now the oil and gas industry has decided that they want to undermine a democratic vote in order to put a dangerous industrial activity next to homes and schools in the city of Longmont,” says Food and Water Watch’s Sam Schabacker.

Longmont is estimated to be sitting on oil and gas reserves worth $500 million. In a statement [.pdf], COGA president Tisha Schuller says they recognize that some citizens of Longmont are concerned about the safety of fracking but a ban is not a suitable solution.

"A ban on oil and gas development ignores our interdependence with oil and gas, encompassing many of the products we use, including electricity production; home heating, cooking and hot water; movement of goods and services; and our essential transportation needs."

Schuller hopes issues can be addressed in a way that doesn’t prohibit the development of oil and gas reserves in the area.