Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA)

Leigh Paterson / Insider Energy

In Northern Colorado, two massive industries are colliding: home development and energy development. At the intersection of the two are serious and growing concerns about health and safety.

As more drilling rigs and more subdivisions go up in towns across the Front Range, what happens when people and oil and gas become neighbors?

Inside Energy

A home explosion in a Denver suburb in April that has been linked to energy development has left Colorado communities wondering: are we safe? To give some context to that question, Inside Energy and Rocky Mountain PBS has analyzed data relating to spills, fires, explosions, and the inspectors charged with keeping an eye on it all.

Google Maps

When a home went up in flames on Twilight Avenue in April, in a subdivision north of Denver, two people died. Now, the investigation into what happened is underway, clean-up is ongoing, lawsuits are being filed and residents who live in that small community are worried — not only about their safety but about the value of their homes. 

Colorado Sues Boulder County For Fracking Time-Out

Feb 14, 2017
KUNC File Photo

Boulder County is being sued by the state of Colorado over its continued moratorium on new oil and gas development. In a letter sent to Boulder County Commissioners Jan. 26, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman threatened legal action if the county didn’t begin permitting new oil and gas development including fracking, on unincorporated county land by Feb. 10. The deadline passed - without any permitting change from Boulder County - and a complaint, the initial legal document to begin a lawsuit, was received by county officials Feb. 14.

Jim Hill / KUNC

2016 hasn’t been a good year for people who want to restrict oil and gas development in Colorado. Now the failure to collect enough valid signatures to put two anti-fracking initiatives on the November ballot means no foreseeable resolution to an issue that has divided the state.

"This is not the end of this fight," said Pete Maysmith, the executive director of the environmental group Conservation Colorado. His group endorsed initiative 75, which would have allowed local governments to enact their own laws to prevent or mitigate local impacts from oil and gas development.

Dan Boyce

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced initiatives 75 and 78 failed to make the November 2016 ballot after supporters failed to collect enough valid signatures.

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

Colorado Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled that state laws protecting the oil and gas industry overrule a hydraulic fracturing ban in Longmont [.pdf] and a five-year moratorium in Fort Collins [.pdf], calling both of the voter-approved moves "invalid and unenforceable." While the industry sees the decision as a big win, opponents view the ballot box as the likely outlet now for gaining more local control.

Fort Collins and Longmont's oil and gas control measures were the headline examples, but they weren't alone in the state. What happens now with similar efforts in Boulder County and Broomfield?

Jim Hill / KUNC

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the city of Longmont's hydraulic fracturing ban and the moratorium in Fort Collins Monday. The state's highest court said that Longmont's ban conflicts with state law and is invalid and unenforceable. The court ruled that state law also preempts the moratorium in Fort Collins.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

The Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on whether local cities in Colorado can either ban hydraulic fracturing or declare a moratorium. The chamber was filled with a who’s who in the energy world, from policy experts and state and city officials, to top attorneys and environmental activists, highlighting the importance of the cases.

“We’re very, very, serious about not wanting fracking anywhere near us,” said Kaye Fissinger with Our Longmont. She helped spearhead the ballot campaign which Longmont voters passed in 2012. “It was a landslide victory 60 to 40 percent. The people spoke. And the people should be heard.”

The seven justices heard an hour of arguments on the Longmont case, along with an hour of arguments on the five-year fracking moratorium passed by the city of Fort Collins.

Jim Hill / KUNC

Three decades ago, a gas well exploded near Greeley, Colorado. That event spurred voters to ban oil and gas drilling in the city limits. The ban was overturned by the state Supreme Court in 1992, setting a precedent that local governments in Colorado could not ban energy development.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that case put the kibosh on local drilling prohibitions. Au contraire, Dear Reader: Bans, moratoriums and other controls have sprung up across the state almost as fast as drill rigs during the boom of the late 2000s. Many of these cases are testing the boundaries of the Greeley decision, and two such cases have been making their way through the court system.

On Dec. 9, 2015, the state Supreme Court will hear arguments from two cities: Longmont and Fort Collins. Here's why these cases are different enough from the Greeley case to warrant another hearing in front of the state's highest court.

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