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COGA Files Suit Against Lafayette, Fort Collins On Voter-Approved Fracking Measures

KUNC File Photo
A workover rig performs remedial work on an existing water injection well just inside Fort Collins city limits, Oct. 22.

Fort Collins and Lafayette voters passed restrictions on the practice of hydraulic fracturing Nov. 5. Now the two towns are facing lawsuits from the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.

COGA contends that the measures passed by voters are illegal, citing a 1992 Colorado Supreme Court ruling in which the city of Greeley unsuccessfully attempted to ban oil and gas development.

Tisha Schuller, President and CEO of COGA, said in a press release dated Dec. 3:

“That COGA has had to take this action further demonstrates the huge disservice self-described ‘fractivists’ have done to our communities in promoting energy bans. Instead of working constructively with industry and city leaders, extremists have used fear and misinformation to lure cities into passing bans which they know are illegal and will cost staff time and taxpayer money.”

In the last election, Fort Collins voters passed a 5-year moratorium on the practice of hydraulic fracturing, while Lafayette voters amended the city’s home rule charter to ban all oil and gas activities. In the run up to the election opponents of the bans argued that the moves could invite legal action, something that has now come to pass.

“The real lesson to be learned is that Longmont is now getting sued and they’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation, which is exactly what they were warned about would happen if this passed,” said Ray Martinez, the Campaign Chair for the Fort Collins Alliance for Reliable Energy before the election.

But Kelly Giddens with Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins doesn't see it that way.

"This lawsuit is an attempt by industry to try to undermine democracy by suing to force a dangerous industrial activity next to homes, schools and natural areas without understanding it's impact to our community," Giddens said in an e-mail late Tuesday night.

Read More: Lafayette Fracking Opposition Reacts To COGA Lawsuit

With three Colorado cities – Longmont, Lafayette, and Fort Collins – now all involved in litigation over bans or moratoriums, eyes turn toward to other cities. Boulder voters also passed a five-year extension of the city’s fracking moratorium Nov. 5, but the city does not appear to be facing legal action from COGA.

Broomfield voters also considered a 5-year fracking moratorium, but the results have been too close to call. The city and county right now are in the middle of a vote recount, contentious in its own right. By law, Broomfield has until Dec. 5 to conduct the recount.

Update 6:00 a.m. 12/04/13 - Broomfield released the unofficial results of the recount Tuesday night, giving a narrow victory to the backers of Question 300. The margin was just 20 votes and the results still need to be certified.

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