Wed July 11, 2012

Longmont Officials Signal Support for Tougher Fracking Regs

City officials in Longmont are set to reconsider a retooled package of local regulations that could limit oil and gas drilling and the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing from occurring within the town's boundaries. 

The Longmont Times Call reports today a revamped ordinance will be considered by the city council at a meeting next Tuesday. 

According to the story:

In discussions Tuesday, Councilman Alex Sammoury said he could support the "redline" draft prepared by Councilman Brian Bagley. The edited version drops a five-page preamble that cited several studies of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," but keeps a ban on residential drilling in the city limits.

Longmont is one of several communities along Colorado's Front Range concerned about the spread of drilling as a result of the Niobrara shale formation and currently has enacted a temporary moratorium on new drilling permits.

State officials and the industry have scorned Longmont's proposed new regulations that would ban most drilling from occurring within residential neighborhoods, saying the courts have ruled only the state can regulate such activity.

It's not clear whether the issue will return to the courts, but Longmont is a flash point in the larger debate over drilling and fracking in Colorado.  Especially since national groups like Food and Water Watch have proposed a ballot measure that would ask voters to completely ban fracking within the city limits

The groups that include the local "Our Health, Future, Our Longmont" have until July 20th to submit the required number of signatures to the city clerk's office. 

In an email this morning, Food and Water Watch's Sam Schabacker told us they're "pushing hard" toward that deadline with some 75 volunteers out in the field collecting signatures from Longmont voters.

The groups have said they're moving ahead with the effort, despite what the city council may or may not ultimately pass next week.