The Colorado Supreme Court determined Monday that only the state has the legal authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, striking down a pair of city level bans on the process.
The case decided that the Colorado cities of Longmont and Fort Collins cannot ban fracking as the ban is “preempted by state law and therefore, is invalid and unenforceable.” Both cities had claimed that Colorado law doesn’t explicitly permit fracking, so a ban or moratorium should be legal. The oil and gas industry defeated the cities in lower courts by claiming that only the state has the authority to regulate fracking.
The oil and gas industry in Colorado and other states has historically been regulated by the state, not local, government. The industry worried that local rulings could create a regulatory “patchwork,” which could hamper energy development in Colorado. Several environmental groups, including Food and Water Watch, The Sierra Club, Earthworks and a local group called Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED) had supported the local ban on fracking.
Nearly all oil and natural gas wells in Colorado are fracked, meaning a ban on fracking is effectively a ban on oil and gas development.
“Today’s ruling protects Colorado’s robust energy portfolio and energy independence, and sends a strong message to the deceptive anti-energy extremists,” Jonathan Lockwood, the executive director of the pro-free market group Advancing Colorado, said in a pres statement. “The Colorado Supreme Court is protecting our democratic process and their ruling will help protect our health, safety and property from the attacks of dangerous special interest groups.”
A Colorado environmental group proposed 11 ballot measures to the state legislature in January to amend the state’s constitution to restrict or even ban fracking entirely. The environmental group CREED has pushed the ballot measures since December, and lobbied for everything from delaying the permitting process for companies looking to frack, to regulations giving local governments the power to regulate fracking and create sharp restrictions on where companies can frack.
CREED did not immediately return The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Colorado Democrats started floating legislation and ballot measures to ban fracking last year, but they were pulled from the ballot at the last minute in exchange for creating a commission to study existing regulations and propose changes. So far, the state’s Democratic governor has opposed most of the proposals as fracking and energy are a huge portion of Colorado’s economy.
Fracking has caused an economic boom in Colorado. In 2012, the oil and gas industry added $29.6 billion to Colorado’s economy, or about 10 percent of all annual economic activity in the state. The industries also supported 111,500 jobs, allowing the state to recover from the Great Recession faster than its neighbors.
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