Fracking

Issue Spotlight: Fracking

Background:

  • Official health warnings of the lethal effects from oilfield emissions have gone largely unheeded by oil and gas companies, and have been blamed for the sudden deaths of numerous oilfield workers, raising concerns for the general public.
  • With respect to the cancer risk, a former president of the Colorado Medical Society called the current hydraulic fracturing boom in the state’s oil and gas industry an “experiment in motion” for the public at large.
  • Scientists found that Colorado’s front range oil and gas boom has been emitting 3 times more methane than previously believed and 7 times more cancer-causing Benzene.
  • Air quality in Denver, which is downwind from oil and gas operations, has deteriorated badly, pushing the city from 26th to 13th most-polluted city in the nation for air quality.
  • The US Geological Survey has warned that earthquakes linked to oil and gas exploration, “are occurring at a higher rate than ever before and pose a higher risk and threat to people living nearby.”
  • Experts have challenged claims by the fracking industry and the governor that fracking does not contaminate groundwater.
  • Oil and gas companies have been allowed to inject drilling and fracking waste into aquifers below Northern Colorado.
  • Serious and dangerous oil and gas accidents and willful rule violations are widespread throughout the country, rendering state enforcement of even the most rudimentary safeguards insufficient.

Current Situation:

  • Five cities and towns have voted to ban or delay the practice of fracking in their jurisdictions. Four of the five communities were then sued by the oil and gas industry.
  • After losing in State District Court, the city of Longmont appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, arguing that regulating fracking was legitimately a matter of local concern.
  • Fort Collins voted to appeal a court decision against city fracking moratorium
  • A district judge struck down Lafayette’s voter-approved fracking ban
  • Colorado citizens launched a class action lawsuit to uphold Lafayette’s fracking ban
  • The governor threatened to sue any city or town in Colorado that regulates or bans fracking, but later admitted that 70 percent of the state would have voted for ballot language that mandated fracking rig setbacks of 2,000 feet.

Solution:

The Community Rights Amendment to the Colorado Constitution would allow local officials or citizens to prohibit or restrict oil and gas activity inside their community’s boundaries without interference from the state.