Oil & Gas Asssociation: Fort Collins fracking ban proposal ‘illegal’

FORT COLLINS — The Colorado Oil & Gas Association said Wednesday that banning hydraulic fracturing is illegal, a response to a decision by Fort Collins city councilors to move forward on a measure that would let voters decide whether to allow fracking within city limits.

“A ban on hydraulic fracturing, there’s a clear legal precedent that this is illegal,´ said Doug Flanders, director of policy and external affairs for the industry group. “This will be shown in court that this is not an appropriate measure to move forward on.”

Councilors decided Tuesday night to ask the city to draft a resolution that councilors will vote on in February whether to authorize a ballot measure to ban hydraulic fracturing in the April 2 municipal election.

The drilling technique has caused significant concern among some residents, who have pleaded with councilors to ban it. Fracking involves injecting water, sand and chemicals below ground to free oil and natural-gas trapped in shale.

Last year, city councilors approved a moratorium 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. The Colorado Oil & Gas Association already is suing the city of Longmont over a fracking ban passed by voters in November.

Mayor Karen Weitkunat, who described herself as a “strong proponent” of local regulation, said council members have struggled with what to do about drilling in the city.

“We certainly are responsible for the health and safety of our residents,” Weitkunat said. “As expressed, we’re deeply concerned about that and how best to take care of that.”

Flanders declined to say whether the association would sue additional cities that passed fracking bans.

Flanders said the association hopes to form a good relationship with city officials and residents to determine how drilling can be done in Fort Collins.

“The residents of Fort Collins that have concerns about this, we understand that and respect that,” Flanders said.

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