For Immediate Release March 14, 2014
Staff Contact: Rigo Leal, Public Information Officer, 303-651-8840
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Court Turns Attention to Hydraulic Fracking Lawsuit
March 14, 2014 - A Boulder County court is moving forward with a case over Longmont’s citizen-passed restriction on hydraulic fracking, a process which uses millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals in the process of extracting oil and gas. The City has agreed with the State to conserve resources by focusing on this case before resolving another case about Longmont’s oil and gas regulations.
The State and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry group, have sued the City twice. The first lawsuit involves local oil and gas regulations which the City Council passed in July 2012. The regulations generally restrict new oil and gas surface operations in residentially zoned areas, require disclosures of fracking chemicals to the City’s first responders, set groundwater monitoring rules, and limit visual and noise disturbance, among other things. The regulations ask industry to incorporate best management practices used throughout the state in their Longmont operations.
The second lawsuit filed against the City by the oil and gas industry and the State challenges the citizen-initiated hydraulic fracking restriction, passed by the voters in November 2012. That measure also prohibits fracking waste disposal in Longmont, and is known as Amendment 300 or Article XVI. Both lawsuits are before the same judge, the Honorable D.D. Mallard, in Boulder County District Court.
Until recently, the court and the parties had been focusing on the first case, regarding the regulations. The State and COGA asked the court in late 2013 to rule in their favor and invalidate many of the City’s new regulations, without hearing any facts about the effect of these regulations or any evidence substantiating citizens’ legitimate concerns.
The City responded aggressively, filing a 92-page response and countering with its own motion asking the court to uphold the regulations. In reply, the State and COGA asked the court to “stay” the regulations case – to delay it until the court resolves the hydraulic fracking case. The City believes that its strong position in the case, including the fact that the only company actively producing oil and gas in Longmont has agreed to the regulations, may explain why the plaintiffs requested a full halt to the case.
The City has reluctantly agreed to the stay in order to conserve City resources and staff time. The regulations remain in full force during the stay.
The City’s legal team will vigorously defend the fracking initiative in court.
The parties and the court will now focus on the Amendment 300 case, and resolve it first. If the court upholds the citizen-backed restriction on hydraulic fracking, the City will not have to expend further resources defending the regulations.
The State and COGA have told the court that, if the City wins the fracking case, the regulations case will become “moot” – meaning the challenge to the City's regulations will not proceed.