For Immediate Release
Catherine Collentine (303)454-3363 (Sierra Club Colorado Campaign Representative)
Bruce Baizel (970) 259-3353 x 2 (Earthworks Director)
Victory for Longmont Residents: Lawsuit Challenging Health, Pollution Protections Dropped
LONGMONT, Colo. - Today the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) dropped their lawsuit to invalidate a Longmont City Ordinance that protects residents from the pollution and associated health threats of oil and gas development. The State dismissed the suit after more than two years of litigation, as a part of a deal brokered in August 2014 to keep two anti-fracking initiatives off the November ballot.
“Upholding this ordinance is a victory for the people of Longmont and the right of local government to regulate oil and gas development. Industry has run roughshod over community concerns for decades. This decision is a step towards balancing the scales of justice,” said Earthworks Director Bruce Baizel.
The challenged Ordinance, passed by the City Council in July 2012, prohibits oil and gas surface activities from occurring in zoned residential areas and establishes voluntary, enhanced standards for fast-track administrative approval that create setbacks greater than the State’s for homes, schools, hospitals, waterways and parks. The Ordinance also requires disclosure to emergency responders of hazardous chemicals transported through the City and consultation with local wildlife experts before any operations begin.
“In light of continued scientific research showing that oil and gas development risks the health of those living nearby, it’s clear that ordinances like the one put in place by Longmont are necessary for community well-being,” said Sierra Club Colorado Campaign Representative Catherine Collentine. She continued, “In the absence of adequate state rules governing oil and gas development, local governments must be able to step in to protect public health and the environment.”
Over the past decade Colorado has experienced a historic boom in oil and gas drilling. Colorado currently has more than 52,000 active oil and gas wells covering much of the state’s landscape. Across Colorado’s northern plains, oil and gas companies are increasingly operating not only in sparsely populated areas, but also in towns and suburbs.
“Living with oil and gas drilling and fracking near your home or your children’s school is not something anyone wants. These are very minimal protections for residents in Longmont and
are the first step to protect public health and safety, We are glad to see the State and the industry agree,” said Karen Dike, Longmont resident and member of the Sierra Club.
This growing trend of drilling near homes and schools prompted the City of Longmont, located 37 miles north of Denver and on the western edge of Colorado’s most productive oil and gas field, to update its land use rules to prohibit certain surface activities in residential areas.
The new rules immediately came under legal attack by the State of Colorado calling into question the City’s authority to protect its own citizens from the adverse effects of oil and gas development. This lawsuit was one of many that are ongoing in other Colorado communities working to protect the health and environment of residents across the state from the threats of rampant oil and gas development.
For more information on Sierra Club’s efforts to protect communities from harmful oil and gas operations go to http://content.sierraclub.org/naturalgas and to http://rmc.sierraclub.org/ ; for Earthworks visit http://www.earthworksaction.org/
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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.