Denver, Colorado (Sierra Club) – Today, the Colorado Supreme Court is set to hear cases on the rights of Coloradans to protect their health and environment, and prevent hydraulic fracturing in their communities.
The cases focus on Longmont’s 2012 ban on fracking and Fort Collins 2013 moratorium. In both cases, the oil and gas industry sued to overturn these measures, contending that the local governments have no power to regulate the industry, or control the location and practices of any oil and gas activities in their borders. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency that issues permits for the industry, is a party in the Longmont suit siding with the industry, Our Longmont, Food and Water Watch, Earthworks, and the Sierra Club are parties to the Longmont suit, defending the ban.
“The issue in Longmont is whether people can vote to protect their neighborhoods and schools from harmful fracking operations,” said Eric Huber, Sierra Club Senior Managing Attorney. “And the Ft. Collins moratorium is big because there are moratoriums in Broomfield and the city and county of Boulder. All eyes in the oil and gas industry are on these cases today.”
Coloradans in Longmont, Fort Collins, and across the state are a part of a national groundswell of voices calling for community control over oil and gas drilling and fracking in their backyards.
“In October of 2011, when members of our community discovered that the oil and gas industry was essentially invading Longmont along with dangerous fracking, an uproar ensued. Even our name — Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont — reflects our values, and all that we hold dear. We have been determined to protect and defend our families, our children, our grandchildren from the enormous threats of fracking and its consequences, both now and to come,” said Kaye Fissinger, President of Our Longmont. “We hope that the justices of the Colorado Supreme Court share our values and recognize that the people are the state’s highest priority and are guaranteed by our constitution the right to our health, safety and welfare.”
Over the past decade Colorado has experienced a boom in oil and gas drilling. Across Colorado’s northern plains, oil and gas companies are increasingly operating not only in sparsely populated areas, but also in towns and suburbs.
“As a third generation Coloradan, the constitutional right to protect our health, safety, air and water from fracking is one of the things that makes our state a great place to live. For the sake of our families and our futures, we hope the court upholds this right,” said Sam Schabacker, Western Region Director for Food & Water Watch.
Prior to today’s hearing, health care professionals, environmental organizations, and grassroots groups held a rally to urge the Court to uphold Longmont’s ban and Fort Collins’ moratorium on fracking.
“We the People enacted commonsense legislation that protects our health, safety, and environment. We call on the Colorado Supreme Court to recognize these as constitutionally protected rights, and side with the people of Longmont and Fort Collins,” said Will Walters, Chair, Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter.
“For more than 20 years I have worked to help communities dealing with the oil and gas industry,”said Bruce Baizel, Energy Program Director of Earthworks. “For almost all of that time, the Colorado state government has sided with industry and against its own citizens. Because the state wouldn’t, Longmont and Fort Collins acted to protect their citizens. If our constitutional rights mean anything, they should mean that cities have the right to treat fracking just like any other business, up to and including banning it. And that’s why the Colorado Supreme Court should uphold communities rights to govern fracking.”
This report was prepared by Sierra Club.