Oil association retracts anti-fracking ban petition

9:52 PM, Feb 25, 2013   |    comments
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FORT COLLINS - The Colorado Oil and Gas Association says it wants to withdraw an error-filled petition it submitted to the Fort Collins City Council opposing a ban on fracking within the city.

Twenty-two of 55 businesses on the petition said last week that they were inaccurately represented as part of a coalition of Northern Colorado businesses fighting the fracking ban. COGA included them in the coalition based on signatures on its petition.

Many of the petition signers were unaware they were representing their business; they later asked to be removed from the coalition. In other cases, COGA was unable to identify some of the signers and verify that some of the businesses it listed as part of the coalition had signed the petition.

"COGA has ascertained we made mistakes in the collection of signatures on a petition submitted to City Council last week opposing a ban on hydraulic fracturing," COGA President and CEO wrote in an email to the council on Monday. "As a result, we withdraw that petition from the record."

But Fort Collins city officials will not remove it from the public record, said Rita Harris, deputy Fort Collins city clerk.

"We're not giving it back," she said.

Once a petition is part of public record, it can't be withdrawn, said City Councilman Gerry Horak.

"It's all sort of immaterial, because there's nothing 'official' about the petition – it's purely used to demonstrate public sentiment," Harris said. "Most of the time, we don't even keep these types of petitions for more than a couple weeks."

The COGA petition drive was led by energy consulting firm EIS Solutions, whose vice-president is former Colorado Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, a Grand Junction Republican.

COGA and EIS Solutions both declined to respond to questions Monday.

"We conducted an internal audit to assess the signature collection process and identified numerous areas for improvement, including identity verification, ensuring a signatory has the authority to speak for a business and confirming the willingness of an individual or business to be identified in public," Schuller said in a statement. "Other participants simply do not want any more publicity."

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