Longmont City Fracking Ban, Question 300 (November 2012)

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A Longmont City Fracking Ban Question was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the city of Longmont, which is in Boulder and Weld Counties, Colorado. It was approved. On July 24, 2014, however, Boulder District Court Judge Dolores Mallard overruled the measure. Despite this, Question 300 remains in effect, since the ruling was immediately put on hold due to an appeal by Question 300 supporters.

This measure sought to ban the use of fracking in the city. Opponents of drilling in the city collected the 5,700 valid signatures required to place this issue on the ballot. Local companies that use fracking had been moving closer to residents as they sought out more natural gas. Residents grew worried about the use of fracking on ground water and hoped this measure would stop any use of the technique near residents' houses.[1][2]

Aftermath

Lawsuit

Two lawsuits were filed against Longmont over this ban. The most recent lawsuit featured the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and the state's Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as plaintiffs. According to a Colorado Open Records Act request, both lawsuits together had already cost the city of Longmont almost $69,000 in legal fees as of March 31, 2013. On July 24, 2014, Boulder District Court Judge Dolores Mallard overruled the ban, saying that the city of Longmont "does not have the authority to prohibit what the state authorizes and permits." Mallard cited Voss v. Lundvall, a 1992 court ruling that gave states, rather than cities, control over oil and gas extraction regulations and bans. However, Question 300 remains in effect, since the ruling was immediately put on hold due to an appeal by Question 300 supporters. Anti-fracking lawyers and activists disagreed with the ruling. Some have appealed the ruling and have pledged to take it all the way to the Supreme Court if that is what it takes.[3][4]

On August 26, 2014, the Longmont City Council voted unanimously to join the effort to appeal the ruling. Councilwoman Bonnie Finley, who introduced the motion to support an appeal, said, "I know this will surprise some people. There's a need for clarity on the issue. That's why I am supporting this, and that's why I believe we should go all the way [to the Colorado Supreme Court]." She also said, "And I also believe we should invite other communities with similar interests to join our case."[5]

Election results

OverturnedotLongmont City Question 300
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 25,347 59.90%
No16,97140.10%

Election results from Boulder County Current Election Results Summary and Weld County Summary of Election Results.

Text of measure

Language on the ballot:

Shall the City of Longmont Home Rule Charter be amended by adding a new article XVI to prohibit within the City of Longmont the use of Hydraulic Fracturing to extract oil, gas, or other hydrocarbons, and prohibit within the City of Longmont the storage in open pits or disposal of solid or liquid wastes created in connection with the hydraulic fracturing process, including but not limited to flowback or produced wastewater and brine?

yes

no[2][6]

Full text of the proposed amendment

Article XVI. Longmont Public Health, Safety, and Wellness Act:

16.1. - Purpose.

To protect property, property values, public health, safety and welfare, and the environment by prohibiting the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract oil, gas, or other hydrocarbons within the City of Longmont.

16.2. - Findings.

The people of Longmont hereby make the following findings with respect to the process of hydraulic fracturing within the City of Longmont:

  • The Colorado Constitution confers on all individuals in the state, including the citizens of Longmont, certain inalienable rights, including “the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness,” Colo. Const. Art. II, Sec. 3;
  • The Colorado Oil and Gas Act requires oil and gas resources to be extracted in a “manner consistent with protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources,” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 34-60-102;
  • The well stimulation process known as hydraulic fracturing is used to extract deposits of oil, gas, and other hydrocarbons through the underground injection of large quantities of water, gels, acids or gases; sands or other proppants; and chemical additives, many of which are known to be toxic;
  • The people of Longmont seek to protect themselves from the harms associated with hydraulic fracturing, including threats to public health and safety, property damage and diminished property values, poor air quality, destruction of landscape, and pollution of drinking and surface water;
  • The people of Longmont have determined that the best way to safeguard our inalienable rights provided under the Colorado Constitution, and to and ensure the “protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources” as provided under the Colorado Oil and Gas Act, is to prohibit hydraulic fracturing and the storage and disposal of its waste products within the City of Longmont.

16.3. – Policy.

It shall hereby be the policy of the City of Longmont that it is prohibited to use hydraulic fracturing to extract oil, gas, or other hydrocarbons within the City of Longmont. In addition, within the City of Longmont, it is prohibited to store in open pits or dispose of solid or liquid wastes created in connection with the hydraulic fracturing process, including but not limited to flowback or produced wastewater and brine.

16.4. - Retroactive Application

In the event this measure is adopted by the voters, its provisions shall apply retroactively as of the date the measure was found to have qualified for placement on the ballot.

Similar measures

Local

ApprovedaOverturnedot Longmont City Fracking Ban, Question 300 (November 2012)
Approveda Broomfield Five Year Fracking Suspension, Question 300 (November 2013)
ApprovedaOverturnedot City of Lafayette "Community Rights Act" Fracking Ban Amendment, Question 300 (November 2013)
Approveda City of Boulder Five Year Fracking Suspension, Question 2H (November 2013)
Approveda City of Fort Collins Five Year Fracking Suspension Initiative, Question 2A (November 2013)
Defeatedd City of Loveland Two Year Fracking Suspension Initiative (June 2014)

Statewide

Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Colorado Distribution of Oil and Gas Revenue Initiative (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Colorado Environmental Rights Amendment (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Colorado Local Regulation of Oil and Gas Development Initiative (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Colorado Mandatory Setback of Oil and Gas Wells Amendment (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Colorado Right to Local Self-Government Amendment (2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Michigan Fracking Ban Initiative (2014)


See also

References