Split Fort Collins City Council advances fracking ban toward ballot

12:50 PM, Jan 23, 2013   |    comments
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Last month council adopted a moratorium through the end of July on new oil and gas development inside the city and on other city-owned lands. It does not prohibit hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, on existing wells.

For some residents of Fort Collins concerned about the consequences to air quality, water quality, seismic activity and public health associated with hydraulic fracturing, the temporary hiatus does not go far enough.

Citizens opposed to the oil and gas extraction technique of hydraulic fracturing have flooded public comment sessions at city council meetings in recent weeks clamoring for a ballot referendum in the April 2 municipal election asking for a permanent ban on fracking.

Voters in Longmont passed a fracking ban. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the state's foremost oil and gas industry organization, responded by suing Longmont, which also faces a legal challenge from the state over restrictions its city council imposed on oil and gas development.

Fort Collins would most likely be inviting lawsuits as well if voters here approve a fracking ban, City Attorney Steve Roy warned council.

Councilwoman Aislinn Kottwitz said council-generated regulations would be more effective than a ban imposed by voters.

"I can't support it coming from the city council, because I feel like it wouldn't be the best move to get done what you're trying to get done," Kottwitz said, directing her remarks to about a dozen citizens who favor a ban and stood throughout the fracking discussion.

Regulating oil and gas development under current law is the purview of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Councilman Gerry Horak said unless the state Legislature changes that, cities' powers to limit industry activity do not extend as far as council wants to reach.

Read the full report on the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

(Copyright © 2013 Fort Collins Coloradoan, All Rights Reserved)

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