Colorado Supreme Court Rules Against Cities’ Fracking Bans

This week the Colorado Supreme Court ruled unanimously against two cities’ bans on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as it’s also known. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the group which brought the original lawsuits against the cities of Fort Collins and Longmont, is hailing the decisions as “a win for the energy industry.”

The Colorado Supreme Court framed its rulings not as a decision on the safety of fracking but as an assertion of state law’s authority over local legislation — even if that legislation was formed following successful ballot initiatives.

In 2012, Longmont voters approved the prohibition of any fracking or fracking waste storage within city limits. The next year, Fort Collins residents voted in favor of a similar ban until 2018. Both were struck down in separate rulings. “It’s a blow to democracy and local control,” Rep. Jared Polis says.

In a state where fracking ranks among its most controversial issues, it is hard to not view the Colorado Supreme Court’s unanimous rulings as politically profound.

That’s because, as anti-fracking activists now worry, the Colorado Supreme Court’s actions could have a chilling effect on other cities and municipalities that may have or may seek future bans of their own. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s president and CEO, Dan Haley, even boasts that the rulings send “a strong message” that anti-fracking efforts “will not be tolerated at any level” in Colorado.

In the court’s Longmont ruling, it was explained that local fracking bans do not constitute laws “alleged to concern life, liberty, property, safety or happiness.” If they did, they would override state laws, per Colorado’s constitution.

Despite the court’s assertion, hydraulic fracturing (and, more importantly, the storage of the resulting wastewater) can and will lead to exactly those things — life, property and safety — being endangered. And that’s not fear-mongering or mere speculation: When it comes to the dangers of fracking, the science is in.

As reported on Care2 previously, a crucial Stanford University study on the chemicals used in the fracking process (benzene and xylene) confirmed that they are not only toxic to ingest but that they are likely seeping into water tables to cause permanent damage — confirming what most anti-fracking activists had suspected for years.

Another report came from the U.S. Geological Survey this year, warning that fracking practices have been directly linked to a rise in man-made earthquakes. Seven million Americans are now at risk and several states — including Colorado — are considered newly vulnerable to unnatural tremors.

Then there are other studies showing the incredible environmental damage caused every time a fracking well or gas pipeline pours methane into the atmosphere, as happened recently with the disastrous Porter Ranch leak in California.

How could anyone argue against the evidence at this point?

It’s difficult to say whether it’s money-fueled ignorance or dangerous myopia (or both) propping up Colorado’s fracking boom. Support for fracking does not fall along party lines in the Western state — Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has been a very vocal advocate of shale drilling.

In 2013 Hickenlooper testified before a Senate committee that fracking fluids were perfectly safe; so safe, apparently, that he claims he actually drank fluid provided by Halliburton. However, as they say in this day and age — pictures or it didn’t happen.

With Colorado’s courts and even its Democratic governor apparently throwing their weight behind the fossil fuel industry, the state’s anti-fracking activists are facing an uphill battle. These new rulings make it clear that any success must come in the form of a statewide fracking ban, either through state legislative action or via ballot initiative.

Photo Credit: JPphoto1992 / Thinkstock

69 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

SEND
Charles Brexel Sr.

* Those who are still supporting fracking and natural gas power are stuck in the past.

* In 2015, about 90% of all installed, new electrical power in the world was solar and wind power.

* As of 1/1/16 and before, solar and wind power are now the PREFERRED OPTIONS for new power generation installations around the world - and that is for a whopping nine out of every 10 new power plants in the world.

* Solar and wind power are already cheaper than natural gas or coal power - and they will continue to get cheaper for 10 years and more.

* The trends are perfectly clear that the world is now, quickly, installing only solar, wind and geothermal power for all new electrical power in the world.

* The trends are perfectly clear that the world is now, quickly, installing only solar, wind and geothermal power at an incredible scale.

* We will have many hundreds of thousands of new, all-electric cars on the road in 2017 and 2018 when the affordable Chevrolet Bolt, the Tesla Model 3, the new 200-mile range Nissan Leaf and many other manufacturers' 200-mile, or greater, range all-electric cars will be massively purchased. So, we will be greatly reducing our need to burn gasoline and diesel fuel from 2017 and onward. This will greatly reduce the amount of oil that we will need.

* The trends are perfectly clear that, every year, the world is now, quickly, manufacturing and using hundreds of thousands of all-electric cars, SUVs, vans, trucks and buses.

SEND
Jane R.
Jane R2 years ago

Just shows that anyone can be bought! What a shame.

SEND
Simon Tucker
Simon Tucker2 years ago

Your democracy is even more of a sham than our in the UK. Money is the only vote that matters.

SEND
Katie and Bill D.
Katie & Bill D2 years ago

About time!! Good! Yes the Greed !!!

SEND
Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R2 years ago

So sad! All due to greed!

SEND
Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

Funny how the same people that decry those on the opposite end of the political spectrum when they advocate ignoring the law because of some greater good, are now encourage people to the same, when it benefits their ideology.

SEND
Harry S N.
Past Member 2 years ago

How much were the criminals on that court paid to make that decision?

SEND
Jessie R.
Jessie R2 years ago

Patricia H. has a very good point. While we are all going to die eventually, it won't be for a very long time. In the meantime, we must do all we can to help save our planet!

SEND
Julie D.
Julie D2 years ago

This totally sucks!

SEND