Organization tries to take anti-fracking fight statewide
Backers of a measure to give local governments in Colorado the ability to regulate hydraulic fracturing have turned in ballot language, setting the stage for a statewide fight over fracking.
An organization backing the measure, Local Control Colorado, submitted the proposed ballot measure on Friday. It calls for a constitutional amendment that would allow cities, counties and other local governments to “place restrictions on the time, place or method of oil-and-gas development, including but not limited to the use of hydraulic fracturing, that are intended to protect their communities and citizens.”
“This is all about giving communities a say,” said Jim Ramey, director of Citizens for a Healthy Community in the North Fork Valley, which has spearheaded opposition to proposed drilling in the area. Citizens for a Healthy Community is one of several organizations that formed Local Control Colorado.
The measure, however, is more ambitious than that, industry organizations said.
“Hydraulic fracturing bans are a form of unnecessary extremism that have no legitimate place when it comes to rational, balanced discussions about where energy comes from and what technologies are required to produce it,” said David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Statewide ballot proposal No. 82 was prompted in part by the passage of bans on hydraulic fracturing in five Front Range cities and by lawsuits against one of the cities, Longmont, by the state.
Gov. John Hickenlooper has opposed local measures aimed at banning hydraulic fracturing and the state maintains that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has jurisdiction over the technique, which has been used to free up vast quantities of oil and natural gas in Colorado and much of the rest of the nation.
Local governments should be able to exact higher standards for drilling in their jurisdictions, Ramey said.
Regulations by the commission, Ramey said, “should be seen as the floor, and not the ceiling, as they are right now.”
The Western Slope and the state have experience with hydraulic fracturing that “goes back decades,” Ludlam said, who noted that the history of the technique in the Piceance Basin “will come in handy as we engage with the local business and nonprofit communities in describing why such bans are such bad ideas.”
If the ballot measures goes forward to the point that backers can collect signatures, they will need 86,000 by Aug. 4 to qualify the measure for the ballot