Colorado Attorney General Files Suit to Repeal Local Fracking Ban Legal Watch
On January 27, 2016, the Attorney General’s Office put Boulder County on notice that if it did not come into compliance with State law by February 10th, the State would take legal action against the County. “Because five years is more than reasonable time to complete such a project, and because Boulder County continues to operate in clear violation of Colorado law, the Attorney General today is filing suit in Boulder County District Court to compel compliance.” Boulder County’s “open defiance of state law has made legal action the final recourse available,” Attorney General Coffman said in a statement announcing her filing in Boulder County District Court on February 14. First enacted in 2012 by Boulder County’s commissioners, the ban on oil and gas development has been extended or re-imposed eight times. According to Coffman’s statement, “Two of those extensions were passed after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in May 2016 that local bans on oil or gas development are preempted if they conflict with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act, which regulates all aspects of oil and gas development and operations within the State. After the Supreme Court’s ruling in the City of Longmont and City of Fort Collins cases, other local governments acted to lift similar bans – except for Boulder County.” The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in two separate decisions that a local fracking moratorium in Fort Collins and a fracking ban in Longmont were invalid because they were in conflict with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act. In a written statement, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association applauded the action, “It’s not about drilling, or fracking, or pipelines, it’s about the law”.
“…the law is clear: Long-term moratoriums — and this one is over five years now — are illegal. Boulder County shouldn’t be surprised that the attorney general cares about the rule of law in Colorado.” Boulder County called the lawsuit “a sweetheart deal for the oil and gas industry, but a massive waste of Coloradans’ tax dollars” and Boulder County Commissioners plan to “proceed as scheduled to review the updated regulations that staff has been working on since last May at a public hearing on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. The commissioners have scheduled a follow-up public meeting on Thursday, March 23, 2017 to deliberate their findings from the public hearing and to make a decision on the adoption of new oil and gas regulations for unincorporated Boulder County.” The county has 21 days to respond to the Attorney General’s filing, which requested an end to the moratorium and a permanent injunction.
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