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Sound walls are constructed around an oil and gas wellpad in an effort to reduce noise pollution, especially near occupied areas. (Image courtesy of Encana Corp.)
Sound walls are constructed around an oil and gas wellpad in an effort to reduce noise pollution, especially near occupied areas. (Image courtesy of Encana Corp.)

Top local Colorado news stories of 2015: Longmont’s fracking ban makes it to state Supreme Court

In December 2012, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association sued Longmont over its voter-instituted ban on hydraulic fracturing. And in December 2015, both parties argued their case in front of the state’s highest court.

The oil industry says hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is safe and allows for less invasive drilling techniques. Opponents of fracking say the chemicals used in fracking fluids are dangerous both to the environment and people who live near an operation.

Longmont’s case is largely to do with local control: when it comes to oil shales that don’t follow city or county boundaries, who should have the final say on where companies can frack? Voters in cities or the state government?

The state regulating agency, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and local oil and gas operator TOP Operating later joined the suit against Longmont.

Longmont Assistant City Attorney Dan Kramer made his 30-minute argument before the seven justices on December 9. Kramer argued that a district court judge erred in when she found in favor of COGA as part of a summary judgment, meaning the city did not get to present all its evidence.

The city wanted to present evidence that there was other, similarly efficient, ways for oil and gas companies to drill in Longmont without using fracking.

COGA, the state and TOP Operating argued that Longmont is banning something that falls squarely in the state’s authority, even though there isn’t a state statute expressly permitting fracking around the state.

The justices can issue a decision in the case at any time. For the city of Longmont, the best case scenario is that the justices remand the case back down to district court. If COGA and the other plaintiffs win, the Longmont ban on fracking will be moot even though it’s in the City Charter.

In related news, Colorado fracking opponents prepare to go to the ballot.

(c)2015 the Daily Times-Call (Longmont, Colo.)

This article was written by Karen Antonacci from Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.