Longmont could still be sued over oil and gas rules despite deal to drop case

 – Reporter-Denver Business Journal October 20, 2014

A deal to drop a lawsuit over Longmont’s 2012 oil and gas rules doesn’t protect the city from future suits over those regulations — or other cities that might consider copying Longmont’s rules — despite the city’s statements to the contrary, according to two of the parties involved in the case and a longtime Denver oil and gas attorney.

The deal, announced last week, ended legal action between the state, Longmont, theColorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA), Earthworks and the Sierra Club.

It was an element of a larger agreement brokered by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to avoid a multimillion-dollar election fight over dueling sets of ballot proposals targeting the oil and gas industry. Under that deal, the proposed ballot measures were withdrawn.

Longmont’s regulations — approved by its city council in 2012 — include a ban on drilling operations in residential areas. They also allows the city to require a technical review paid for by the energy company after the state has reviewed the company’s plan, among other provisions.

The state sued Longmont in July 2012, saying the city’s rules conflicted with the state’s authority in a number of areas.

The agreement ending the Longmont case over its oil and gas regulations was approved by Boulder District court Judge D.D. Mallard on Oct. 15. (A second lawsuit focused on Longmont’s voter-approved ban on fracking has been appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals.)

Under the deal, Longmont’s rules remain in effect and the city agreed to drop its counter-suit against the state.

The agreement over the city’s regulations includes language that all parties agreed “never to reassert or institute any claim or counterclaim brought in this case in any future suit or action at law or in equity against any of the other parties to this case.”

The agreement had Longmont claiming victory in the case, saying in a statement that COGA and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which regulates the energy industry, “agreed never to sue Longmont again with a challenge to Longmont’s oil and gas ordinance.”

But that’s not exactly correct, according to COGA, state officials and Dave Neslin, an attorney with Davis Graham & Stubbs LLC and the former director of the COGCC.

Longmont hasn’t responded so far to questions from the Denver Business Journal about the differing interpretations of the agreement.

Continue reading rest of the story at The Denver Business Journal


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