Green Groups Fight to Uphold Colorado Town's Ban on Fracking

Activists in Erie, Colorado protest fracking in their community. (Photo: Erie Rising)

Green Groups Fight to Uphold Colorado Town's Ban on Fracking

"If we are successful with this it will resonate around the country."

A coalition of environmental organizations this week filed a motion to preserve the groundbreaking ban on fracking enacted by Longmont, Colorado voters in 2012.

Our Health Our Future Our Longmont, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club, and Earthworks, represented by the University of Denver Law Clinic, appealed a July ruling by a Colorado judge that struck down the prohibition. "We are committed to continuing to protect the health, safety and property of Longmont residents," said Kaye Fissinger, President of Our Health Our Future Our Longmont.

Boulder District Judge D.D. Mallard had ruled that Longmont's ban constitutes an "irreconcilable conflict" with the state's interests in oil and gas interests, and that the state takes precedence over the local ruling.

But the coalition that appealed the ruling argues that state law prohibits extractive policies that are harmful to the environment. "Fracking is an inherently harmful practice that has no place near our towns, homes and recreational areas," said Sam Schabacker, Western Region Director with Food & Water Watch. "It is the State's duty to ban fracking in order to uphold its responsibility to safeguard our communities and our natural resources."

Longmont was the first town in Colorado to instate a fracking moratorium, and four other cities and towns have since passed similar bans. But these grassroots initiatives face well-funded foes: in every case where a moratorium was passed, the municipality has been sued by oil and gas industries seeking to toss out the prohibitions. Last month a Colorado judge struck down a ban on fracking in Fort Collins and state politicians removed anti-fracking measures from the upcoming November ballot.

Fissinger told Common Dreams that the coalition appealing the Longmont ruling plans to take the case "all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court," adding, "We are hopeful that the courts will recognize the severity of this issue and will look at the subject with fresh and open eyes."

"If we are successful with this it will resonate around the country," she said. "Even the industry has acknowledged they are afraid if we succeed in Colorado it will have a domino effect."

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