Broomfield fracking vote faces recount

BROOMFIELD – A recount is expected in Broomfield for a voter-approved ban on hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas deposits within city limits, according to Bill Tuthill, Broomfield’s city and county attorney.

Voters approved a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for five years by a margin of 17 votes out of 20,683 cast, according to the latest tally from Broomfield officials posted Thursday night. That’s a switch from the unofficial count on Nov. 5, which showed the measure losing by 13 votes. Hydraulic fracturing is more commonly known as “fracking,” a process in which oil and gas companies pump a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into underground deposits to extract oil and gas.

“After today’s expected certification, there will be a recount,” Tuthill said Friday morning. A meeting to certify Thursday night’s results was not complete before the Boulder County Business Report’s midday deadline.

The recount is expected to take place sometime next week, Tuthill said. It’s expected to take a few days, since officials need to recalibrate the voting machines to count just one ballot question rather than the entire election slate, said Rosann Doran, a Broomfield spokeswoman.

Any time a vote is within one-half of 1 percent of the winning side’s number of votes, it triggers a recount by state law. In this case, there would have to be a more than 51-vote difference for a recount not to be required, Doran said.

Broomfield City Council members in August approved a contract with oil and gas operator Sovereign Energy Group LLC in Denver. The latest vote count on the hydraulic fracturing ballot question is expected to affect that, Tuthill said. A Sovereign Energy representative did not immediately return a request for comment.

“If there’s a charter amendment that bans the practice, it’s going to have an impact on future development by that operator or any other operator,” Tuthill said. “We anticipate they will assess the impact of the charter amendment if it goes into effect and move forward accordingly.”

The Broomfield vote demonstrates that supporters of “responsible energy” will prevail in many places around Colorado, Don Beezley, co-chair of the Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition, said in a press statement released Friday.

“Main Street Coloradans are pushing back against fracking bans and standing up for sensible energy policy,” Beezley said.

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