By Scott Rochat Longmont Times-Call
LONGMONT — Longmont’s city charter will now ban fracking.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the ban — Ballot Question 300 — was leading 16,798 votes to 11,544 and had widened its margin of victory with every report, according to the Boulder and Weld county clerk’s offices. That gave ban supporters about 59 percent of the vote.
“Are you kidding?” screamed ban supporter Teresa Foster as results came in to a watch party held by Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont. “Awesome! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”
The charter amendment bans hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a process used by oil and gas drillers to crack rock deep below the surface of th earth. Supporters of a ban say the practice is environmentally risky; opponents say the risks are exaggerated and that the measure would bring lawsuits and expensive claims for “taking” mineral rights.
The ballot question also forbids the storage of fracking waste in city limits.
The issue has been a controversy since late 2011, when TOP Operating announced plans to drill wells near Union Reservoir and Sandstone Ranch. By July 2012, the City Council had updated Longmont’s oil and gas regulations, a move that the state considered too much and that local activists considered too little. The state responded with a lawsuit; the activists, organized as Our Longmont, responded by petitioning a fracking ban onto the ballot.
The oil and gas industry fought the ban hard, giving $507,500 to the opposing group Main Street Longmont. The group and its predecessor, Longmont Taxpayers for Common Sense, had spent $413,334 by the end of October to campaign against Ballot Question 300.