Longmont Takes Fracking Ban Ruling To Higher Court

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Dan Boyce

Longmont residents urge city council members to appeal a judge's ruling striking the city's ban on hydraulic fracturing

Longmont city council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to appeal a district judge ruling that threw out the community’s ban on fracking.

The decision was met by a standing ovation from a crowd of community members who had spent an hour and a half urging the council to appeal.

Longmont was the first of five communities in Colorado over the past couple years to pass bans on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing within city limits.

The industry’s largest trade group in the state, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) as well as the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which regulates the industry, sued Longmont over the bans–saying it violated state law.

Last month, Boulder District Court Judge D.D. Mallard ruled on that lawsuit, invalidating the ban–but issued a stay on that ruling until the appeal deadline.  As reported by KUNC’s Stephanie Paige Ogburn, that stay had given ban supporters hope that Judge Mallard assumed council members would appeal.

Moving forward with the case could cost the city of Longmont up to nearly a half-million dollars and could last years.

No one at Tuesday’s city council meeting spoke in favor of accepting the judge’s ruling to nix the fracking ban.

This lawsuit by COGA and COGCC is different than another suit  dropped by the COGCC as part of a deal orchestrated by Governor John Hickenlooper to avoid a series of fracking-related ballot measures.

On Wednesday, the same judge who ruled against the Longmont ban tossed out a similar ban passed by voters in the city of Lafayette.  From the Daily Camera Lafayette News:

The Court finds the Charter Amendment banning drilling is invalid as preempted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act.  Accordingly, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of COGA and against the City of Lafayette.