Denver, Colo. (July 24) – In a ruling issued today, a Colorado state court invalidated a local ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but left the door open for the City of Longmont and environmental groups to file an appeal to overturn a state policy that places the interests of the oil and gas industry over the health and safety of local citizens. In her 17 page ruling granting the industry and the state summary judgment in their challenge to Longmont’s democratically enacted 2012 fracking ban, the judge determined that her hands were tied by a series of decades-old state court rulings, stating that “[w]hether public policy should be changed in that manner is a question for the legislature or a different court.”
“While we respectfully disagree with the Court’s final decision, she was correct that we were asking this Court, in part, to place protection from the health, safety, and environmental risks from fracking over the development of mineral resources,” stated Kaye Fissinger, President of Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont. “It’s tragic that the judge views the current law in Colorado is one in which fracking is more important than public health; reversing that backwards priority is a long-term battle that we’re determined to continue.”
In its decision the Court determined that Longmont’s ban conflicted with the states interests in oil and gas development, ignoring the fact that the state legislature requires oil and gas development to be done in a way that is protective of public health and the environment. “Despite the Court’s ruling, we continue to believe that a fracking ban is entirely compatible with the state’s responsibility to safeguard our communities and our natural resources,” stated Sam Schabacker, Western Region Director with Food & Water Watch. “Fracking is an inherently harmful practice that has no place near our towns, homes and recreational areas.”
“This decision means two things,” said Bruce Baizel, Earthworks Energy Program Director. “The judge has invited us to seek the change we need either through the higher courts or the legislature. We fully intend to pursue the former on appeal while the latter underscores the need for the citizens of Colorado to get out and support the Environmental Bill of Rights ballot measure this Fall.”
Finally, the Court indicated that it would leave the Longmont fracking ban in place until the City and the intervening organizations have had a chance to decide whether to file an appeal, thereby continuing to protect the people of Longmont from the harms from irresponsible gas extraction.
Contact: Sam Schabacker: 720.295.1036, sschabacker[at]fwwatch[dot]org