Fort Collins oil drilling moratorium extension defeated

FORT COLLINS – A moratorium on oil drilling in the city of Fort Collins will expire at the end of the month based on a narrow vote by the City Council, but a ban on hydraulic fracturing passed earlier this year remains in effect.

City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday against a proposal to extend the drilling moratorium to the end of the year and another option to extend the moratorium for at least five years as studies on human health and drilling are done.

The city’s ban on fracking, the drilling technique of pumping water laced with chemicals down a drilled hole, remains in effect, however. The fracking ban exempts Prospect Energy, which reached a drilling agreement with the city in May.

Mayor Karen Weitkunat as well as councilors Gerry Horak, Gino Campana and Wade Troxell defeated the moratorium extensions. Councilors Lisa Poppaw, Bob Overbeck and Ross Cuniff voted to extend the moratorium.

The moratorium would have barred Prospect Energy from operating in the nearly 90-year-old Fort Collins Field, a portion of which lies in Fort Collins, violating the May agreement the city reached with Prospect Energy, Horak said.

Also Tuesday, the council passed the first reading of an ordinance to hold a special election on a five-year moratorium on fracking.

The ordinance would authorize the clerk’s office to prepare for a special election based on a petition that Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins plans to submit to the city. The group needs 3,907 signatures for a special election on the proposed fracking ban.

The five-year ban should be used to study the effects of fracking on property values, human health and public safety, according to the proposed ballot question.


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