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Fracking Opponents Want a Spot on Longmont Ballot

Photo by Kirk Siegler/KUNC

Anti-fracking activists in Longmont are working to get a measure on the November ballot that would ban the controversial oil and gas drilling practice within the city’s limits. 

The move follows a recent decision by the city council to back away from a proposed ordinance that would have banned drilling and fracking from occurring within residential neighborhoods.

"This charter amendment will set precedent for communities across the state," said Sam Schabacker, a Longmont native and organizer with the national anti-fracking group Food and Water Watch

The group has helped form a local ballot issue committee called "Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont" and has submitted proposed language to the city asking for a spot on the November ballot.

"We believe that our state constitutional rights take eminence over the statutory law that the governor and the attorney general and the oil and gas industry has been wielding in order to come in and frack immediately next to elementary schools and densely populated residential areas," Schabacker said.

Longmont is one of many cities and counties along the Front Range that have recently seen an explosion of oil and gas drilling as a result of new technologies and discoveries of new reserves associated with the Niobrara shale formation. 

Anti fracking groups say the industry and the state bullied local officials in an effort to keep the local ordinance from passing; an accusation refuted by Tisha Schuller, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

"I think this is a charged and difficult issue," Schuller said.

But if the measure makes it to voters, Schuller doubts it would pass.

"It would be unfortunate to say, 'I want to use these products, but I’m not willing to have them produced here, I want them produced in another town, in another county or in another state,'" she said.

If the city approves the proposed ballot measure’s language, its backers would need to collect signatures from at least 10% of registered voters to secure a spot on the November ballot. 

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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