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Eco-groups support Longmont, Colo., fracking ban in court

By Bob Downing Published: July 11, 2014

From the Sierra Club and partners on Thursday:

Groups Defend Longmont Fracking Ban, Stand with Voters

 

BOULDER, CO- Yesterday, presided over by Judge D.D. Mallard, the Boulder County Court held its first hearing in the case filed by the industry and the State of Colorado against the 2012 fracking ban passed by the citizens of Longmont.  Legal representation for the State of Colorado, Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), and TOP Operating Company asked the judge for a summary judgment in their favor, avoiding a full trial and overriding the will of the voters who enacted a fracking ban in November 2012 through a citizen initiative that received about 60 percent of the vote. The city of Longmont and a coalition of citizen organizations represented by the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and made up of Our Longmont, the Sierra Club, Earthworks, and Food and Water Watch, are working to defend the right of Longmont residents to protect their home from unacceptable impacts on public health, environmental, and quality of life caused by fracking operations.

                                            

Coloradans in Longmont are part of a national groundswell of voices calling for community control over oil and gas drilling and fracking in their backyards. Voters in five Colorado communities, including Longmont, have passed fracking bans or moratoria in the last two years. Most recently in Loveland it took the industry outspending local community organizations more than 400:1 to prevent a 2-year moratorium from passing at the ballot box.

 

Over the past decade Colorado has experienced a boom in oil and gas drilling. Colorado currently has more than 50,000 active oil and gas wells covering much of the state’s landscape. High volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is employed in 95 percent of Colorado oil and gas operations and has raised health and safety concerns for communities.  Across Colorado’s northern plains, oil and gas companies are increasingly operating not only in sparsely populated areas, but also in towns and suburbs.  Longmont is located 35 miles north of Denver and on the edge of Colorado’s most productive oil and gas field.

 

Kaye Fissinger, President of Our Longmont said, “In their vote to prohibit hydraulic fracking within Longmont, the citizens of Longmont mandated that their Colorado constitutional and inalienable rights to health, safety and welfare are paramount and deserved to be elevated to the city’s charter, equivalent to a constitution in a Home Rule municipality like Longmont.  Both in its written pleadings to the Boulder District Court and in oral arguments, oil and gas industry lawyers repeatedly told Judge Mallard that our health, safety and welfare are ‘irrelevant’ and ‘immaterial.’  All of the slick advertising and millions of dollars that are being spent to persuade Coloradans that they really do care about us should be permanently laid to rest by their own words to the court.”

 

“Longmont voters used the ballot box to protect their community from fracking and drilling,” said Catherine Collentine, Colorado Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “Citizens and local governments have every right to protect themselves; court decisions in Pennsylvania and New York have affirmed that, and have upheld local government’s rights to protect its residents.  We hope that Colorado courts also uphold the rights of voters, which is essential to protect public health from this out-of-control and under-regulated industry.”

 

Karen Dike, Sierra Club volunteer leader and Longmont resident, added: “My friends and neighbors in Longmont can see the harm fracking has caused just across the county line in Weld County, and we voted to protect the place we live and raise our children and grandchildren. Our children’s health and safety is more important than industry profits. There comes a point when we realize that we need clean energy now, and dirty fuels should stay in the ground where they belong.”

 

“Communities across Colorado have demanded bans or moratoria on fracking in order to protect their residents’ health, safety and property,” said Lisa Trope, Colorado-based organizer with Food & Water Watch. “State regulations fail to adequately protect communities from the water contamination, air pollution and social costs of fracking, and cities like Longmont have every right to deal with this extreme drilling process as they see fit. We hope that Judge Mallard will stand with the families of Longmont.”

 

For more information on Sierra Club’s efforts to protect communities from harmful oil and gas operations go tohttp://content.sierraclub.org/naturalgas and tohttp://rmc.sierraclub.org/ ; for Earthworks visithttp://www.earthworksaction.org/ ; for Our Longmont seehttp://ourlongmont.org/ and for Food and Water Watch go to http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/.  

 

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