Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA)

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.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

Dan Haley spent 20 years as a journalist and editor, the bulk of which was with The Denver Post. He then joined the private sector as a media consultant. Now though, Haley has taken on a new role – as the executive director of the state's largest oil and gas industry trade group, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Ken Lund / Flickr

Energy development is always a hot topic at the statehouse, but 2015 was oddly quiet. Even with recommendations from a task force studying the issue, state lawmakers did little this past session where oil and gas drilling is concerned. As a result, some of the more long-standing issues as local control and public health concerns are still simmering.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

The executive director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Tisha Schuller, recently announced that she's leaving the state's largest trade organization for the energy industry.

In a statement released by COGA, Schuller said it was a "wild ride" and that she was honored to have represented the state's oil industry. While remaining in her position until the end of May, Schuller sat down to talk about the future of the industry and why she decided to leave her position.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

The City of Fort Collins is set to file an opening brief in its appeal of a hydraulic fracturing moratorium struck down in 2014 by a state judge. The Feb. 6 deadline for the filing marked an early step in a case whose final decision likely will not come for several months, said the city's attorney's office.

The Fort Collins case is just one of many bans or moratoriums passed, sued over, and struck down since 2012, when Longmont became the first Colorado town to institute a ban on hydraulic fracturing. As new bans are passed and lawsuits against those votes have wound their way through the courts, it's become a little difficult to keep track of the standing of various bans and moratoriums.

For reference, KUNC has put together a chart tracking the status of drilling or fracking bans or moratoriums in Northern Colorado.

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

Paring their list of recommendations down from 56 to about 40, Colorado's 21-member Oil and Gas Task Force has just one more meeting to make final decisions to meet an end of the month deadline. Their recommendations [.pdf] range from hiring more staff at oil and gas regulatory agencies to requiring greater disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process.

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