A Boulder County District Court judge has struck down Longmont’s fracking ban but said the ban can remain in place while the city considers an appeal.
Judge D.D. Mallard issued the summary judgment Thursday. In the ruling, she said Longmont’s charter amendment clearly conflicted with the state’s regulations and its interest in the efficient development of oil and gas deposits.
“While the court appreciates the Longmont citizens’ sincerely held beliefs about risks to their health and safety, the court does not find this is sufficient to completely devalue the state’s interest,” Mallard wrote.
Mayor Dennis Coombs said he was disappointed that Mallard ruled against the ban, which was added to the city charter as Article 16 by Longmont voters in 2012.
“I have been pleased with our vigorous defense of Longmont’s charter and we are considering all our options moving forward,” Coombs said in a Thursday evening statement.
The case had been scheduled for an evidentiary hearing in April. According to city officials, Longmont has spent $116,324 defending the ban as of June 30.
The ban forbids the practice of hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to crack open hard-to-reach oil and gas deposits. Also known as “fracking,” the practice is considered standard in the industry but has been criticized by a number of environmental groups.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the state’s largest industry group, sued in 2012 to overturn the ban. It was joined by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission — the state agency that regulates the industry — and TOP Operating, the principal oil and gas company active in Longmont.
“The ruling today is not just a win for the energy industry but for the people of Colorado,” said Tisha Schuller, COGA’s president and CEO. “The decision demonstrates that the rule of law will prevail in how Colorado oversees one of the most important industries in this state.”