Fracking ban on Fort Collins’ Council agenda

FORT COLLINS – A measure to ban hydraulic fracturing could appear on the April 2 Fort Collins municipal election ballot if city councilors move forward on the proposal.

Councilors will consider the proposed ballot measure at their meeting Tuesday. If they decide to take action at Tuesday’s work session, a City Council vote could take place in February whether to approve its placement on the ballot.

The prospect that fracking may occur in Fort Collins has caused significant concern among some residents, who have pleaded with councilors to ban the controversial technique. Fracking involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into a drilled hole to free oil and natural-gas trapped in shale.

The proposal follows a moratorium passed by city councilors last year that runs until July 31. Councilors had passed the temporary ban on new drilling as they waited for state regulators to develop new rules.

City officials point out that a fracking ban could lead to a lawsuit. Drilling already cannot take place in 86 percent of land within city limits under current standards for distances between drilling activity and buildings, according to city documents. Proposed state rules increasing buffers between drilling and buildings would add 5 percent more land that companies could not drill.

The city has only seven producing wells, located in the Fort Collins field in the northwest part of the city and owned by Prospect Energy. The company has expressed interest in fracking the oil wells.

“If the city would ban hydraulic fracturing, this action would prohibit any use of (fracking) in the Fort Collins field,” says a report by city officials. “Whether the local operator, Prospect Energy, would be able to present a claim for damages is unknown.”

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