Mon March 4, 2013

Lawyers At The Ready As Fort Collins Considers Fracking Ban

On Tuesday Fort Collins city council members are expected to make a final decision on whether to pass a proposed hydraulic fracturing ban.

If approved, the change could trigger two lawsuits with the state and the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.

The proposed law, which got first-reading approval from council members on Feb. 19, would ban new oil and gas development within city limits. It would exempt existing operator Prospect Energy from the change—something city officials had hoped would ward off potential lawsuits.

Hours after the initial vote, the trade group Colorado Oil and Gas Association hinted that finalizing the law could lead to legal action. One week later Gov. John Hickenlooper used stronger language, saying the state would be “obligated” to file suit against Fort Collins if the ban is finalized.

Mayor Karen Weitkunat told the Coloradoan:

That’s not a happy statement for a community to receive that the state wants to sue the municipality. Certainly, the city respects the authority of the state and the governor. He has a job to do and we have a job to do.

A look south to Longmont suggests that those legal threats are a concern. Longmont is currently embroiled in two lawsuits after voters approved a ban on fracking last November.