Fort Collins Gives Initial OK To Fracking Ban
Fort Collins city council members voted 5-2 on the first reading of an ordinance that would ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing inside city limits.
The proposed ban put the city in the crosshairs of a heated, contentious debate Tuesday night. During nearly three hours, council members heard public testimony from more than 60 members of the public, the majority of which were in favor of the proposed ban.
“I’m a voter, I don’t like it and I’m not going to lay a bunch of statistics in front of you, I don’t want it in my back yard,” said Hunter Harms, who lives in north Fort Collins.
Desi Shaw was one of several women who spoke against the measure wearing pink t-shirts that read “Mothers in Love with Fracking.”
“I feel like there’s fear mongering going on,” she said. “I support fracking, and it’s highly regulated.”
In addition to the fracking ban, the measure would eliminate all oil and gas exploration inside Fort Collins city limits. Exempt from the proposed law are currently operating well pads—all of which are owned by Prospect Energy. If the ordinance passes on a second reading, Prospect would need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to continue operating in Fort Collins.
The hope with the exemption is that it would eliminate a costly and time consuming lawsuit, something the city of Longmont is currently battling after citizens voted to ban fracking last November. In addition to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the state of Colorado has also sued Longmont.
Nevertheless, Fort Collins City Council Member Wade Troxell, who voted against the ban along with Council Member Aislinn Kottwitz, worried that the city would still become embroiled in a legal battle.
“I think the litigation with the state will be a direct cost to the citizens of Fort Collins and I don’t believe that is the right way we should be pursuing to be prudent as a council,” he said.
“Could the state sue us? Sure,” said Council Member Gerry Horak, who proposed the ban. “They have a little problem, though. They have to have standing. And to have standing you have to show that you’re damaged. I have no earthly idea how the state is damaged if we take this particular action.”
Horak also proposed a resolution that would ask state government to grant home rule cities more power over oil and gas exploration, and support the city of Longmont in its ongoing litigation efforts by filing a friend of the court brief. That resolution also passed on a first reading.
The Fort Collins City Council will have a final second reading on the proposed ban and resolution next month.