LONGMONT – The president of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association criticized an appeal approved by the Longmont City Council of a judge’s decision overturning the city’s ban hydraulic fracturing.
“When a sitting legislative body chooses to flout instead of respect state law, it wastes taxpayer and civic resources that instead could be devoted to engaging and meaningful work on responsible energy development,” said Tisha Schuller, president of the industry group, in a statement.
The oil and gas association had sued the city of Longmont, contending that the amendment to the city’s charter passed by voters in November 2012 to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, violated state law. Judge D.D. Mallard ruled July 24 that Longmont’s ban was illegal. Mallard also ruled Wednesday that Lafayette’s ban on new oil and gas activity broke state law. Larimer County District Court Judge Gregory Lammons ruled Aug. 7 that state law preempts the city of Fort Collins’ moratorium on fracking.
The city of Longmont already has spent nearly $130,000 defending the lawsuit filed by the oil and gas association challenging the city’s ban on hydraulic fracturing.
The city paid Phillip Barber, the city’s outside counsel, $129,099 from Jan. 22 through Aug. 1, Longmont spokesman Rigo Leal said. Barber estimated the additional cost of the lawsuit at $75,000 to $150,000.
Longmont City Council’s decision to appeal a district court’s decision was “disappointing and, unfortunately, prolongs the legal fight we would prefer be behind us,” Schuller said.
“The Longmont City Council continues to imply that decades of established law on regulating oil and gas operations somehow doesn’t apply to them, and that court decisions upholding that law are out of bounds,” she said.
Longmont City Councilwoman Bonnie Finley said that Longmont should invite other cities to join the appeal, the Times-Call reported.
Officials with the cities of Fort Collins and Boulder said they did not have immediate plans to join the appeal, but that could change if elected officials decide to do so.
“Boulder is very supportive of a home rule city’s right to protect the health and safety of its residents,” Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said. “If asked to participate, the city attorney would seek direction from City Council about whether to do so.”