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Legal Fights Over Colorado Fracking Ban

December 29th, 2014

The recent ban on hydraulic fracturing in New York State has encouraged environmental activists to call for a Colorado fracking ban as well. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo enacted the ban earlier this month, after the state had imposed a moratorium on the practice in 2008. When asked if his state would enact a Colorado fracking ban, Governor John Hickenlooper released a statement saying that, “Colorado is not New York.”

Oil Companies Sue to Lift Local Colorado Fracking Bans

Several communities located in the oil-rich Front Range have enacted Colorado fracking bans after residents expressed concerns about methane leaks, noise pollution and heavy traffic surrounding the fracking sites. Oil companies have filed lawsuits against four of the Colorado fracking bans. Three of those bans have been overturned on the grounds that they violated state law. Two of the communities that implemented the bans have appealed the lower courts’ rulings.

Political Agreement Stops Colorado Fracking Ban

If not for a last-minute political arrangement, the Colorado fracking ban may have preceded New York’s by at least a month. During the summer of 2014, Coloradans were scheduled to vote on four ballot measures dealing with a potential Colorado fracking ban. In August, Governor Hickenlooper and U.S. Congressman Jared Polis, a leading proponent of the bans, reached an agreement. Congressman Polis agreed to remove the referendums from the ballot. In exchange, Governor Hickenlooper agreed to appoint a task force to examine the environmental impacts of fracking on the state’s communities. The task force is scheduled to release its findings in February 2015.

Environmentalists Call For Colorado Fracking Ban

Many environmental groups are not willing to wait until February and are calling for a statewide Colorado fracking ban. Environmental activist Gary Wockner supported the ballot measures proposed by Congressman Polis and called Governor Cuomo’s statewide fracking ban “bold leadership” that “provides a strong example that should be emulated in Colorado.” Mr. Wockner, who leads the environmental group Clean Water Action, also praised Governor Cuomo’s stance “against the powerful polluting oil and gas industry” in placing the statewide ban.

COGA Disputes Need For Statewide Colorado Fracking Ban

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), disputed the need for a statewide Colorado fracking ban. The industry group released a statement that cited the state’s stringent regulations, which “impose the strictest requirements on all aspects” of fracking operations. The statement also said that a statewide Colorado fracking ban would result in “an explosion of litigation” from landowners and energy companies that would cost the state “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Source: Denver Business Journal

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