January 5, 2015

Heavyweight Response To Local Fracking Bans

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January 4, 2015 | The New York Times | Jack Healy

Cities that vote to ban fracking are paying the price, reports The New York Times. Energy companies and state governments are aggressively and rapidly suing these communities in order to prevent the trend of increasing local control of oil and gas development from spreading.

“You have to take a hard line on this,” Tisha Schuller, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, told The Times.

Longmont, Colorado — whose fracking ban reporter Dan Boyce covered earlier this fall — has spent nearly $140,000 to defend its ban in court. A district court judge overturned the ban last summer, but the town is appealing.

The high legal fees are making some Longmont residents question the ban. “If we took that same vote, I think it would come out differently,” former mayor Bryan Baum told The Times. “It’s cost the city a lot. It’s not just the money that it costs to defend these — it’s the opportunities and the industries it could’ve brought to our community.”

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell also opposes local fracking bans. “I think it’s going to be very difficult for industry to figure out what the rules are if different counties have different rules,” she told KQED.

Watch Dan’s piece on PBS Newshour for more context on the fight over local control in Colorado.