“The bottom line is, the way we have a split estate in this part of the world — pretty much all of the western United States — someone paid money to buy mineral rights under that land,” Hickenlooper said in an interview with the news station. “You can’t harvest the mineral rights without doing hydraulic fracturing, which I think we’ve demonstrated again and again can be done safely.”
The state is suing the city of Longmont on its oil and natural-gas drilling regulations. The Colorado Oil & Gas Association also is suing Longmont, contending that its fracking ban is illegal.
Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat said she could not immediately comment because she has not seen CBS4’s report. However, Weitkunat told the news station that the state has the right to sue, though Fort Collins is a home-rule city that wants to make its own land-use decisions.
The Fort Collins City Council last week gave its initial approval to a ban on fracking, a drilling technique that involves blasting shale formations containing oil and gas with water, sand and chemicals.
Hickenlooper “takes no joy in suing local government,” spokesman Eric Brown said.
As a former mayor, Hickenlooper respects local planning and control, but he also is obligated to uphold the law, Brown said.
“The governor wants to be honest with local communities about the state’s legal obligations,” he said. “Bans like the one under consideration in Fort Collins violate state law.”
Colorado cities that pass fracking bans stand little chance of success because state law pre-empts oil and gas drilling prohibitions, according to case law.
Click here for more on how efforts by cities to ban fracking are unlikely to succeed.