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Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is such an advocate of fracking, he reportedly drinks fracking fluid. (Photo: Chris Schneider/ AP)

'Fracklash': Colorado Governor Threatens to Sue Over Fracking Bans

Pro-fracking Governor John Hickenlooper aims to smash democratic moves by cities

Lauren McCauley

One week after members of the Fort Collins city council voted to ban the polluting oil and gas extraction process of hydraulic fracturing within city limits, former oilman and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper declared he will sue any city that enacts a fracking ban.

When asked by local news channel CBS4 if he planned to take on Fort Collins, Hickenlooper answered, "Sure."

Hickenlooper is notorious for pro-fracking stunts, such as starring in a radio ad for the natural gas industry and recently boasting before a US Senate Committee that he "drank fracking fluid because it is safe and risk free." 

"The bottom line is," he added, alluding to the purging of environmental rights in the western United States, "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. You can't harvest the mineral rights without doing hydraulic fracturing, which I think we've demonstrated again and again can be done safely." 

On February 19, the city council of Fort Collins—a 'home rule' city—voted 5-2 in support of an ordinance to ban fracking within the city limits,  following the community of Longmont which was the first city in Colorado to ban fracking last November.

The issue of health risks in the face of environmental destruction has galvanized the local community. As Fort Collins environmentalist Gary Wockner wrote in a recent op-ed: 

With fracking, threat has bred opportunity, and democracy has come alive in Colorado. While it’s profoundly unfortunate that thousands of homeowners are now threatened with the impacts of fracking, it’s also deeply important and powerful that these same homeowners and suburban moms and dads learn how to be active and informed citizens in our democracy. Not only the promise of democracy—but the responsibility of democracy—is becoming real to thousands of people who just a year earlier were likely focused on normal suburban activities.

The city of Longmont already faces litigation by both the state and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association which filed independent lawsuits to overturn their fracking ban. The Fort Collins City Council is scheduled on March 5 to make a final decision.

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