Catherine Collentine (303)454-3363 (Sierra Club Colorado Campaign Representative)
Kelly Giddens (503)866-5962 (Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins President)
Bruce Baizel (970)259-3353 (Earthworks Energy Program Director)
Kevin Lynch (303)871-6039 (Environmental Law Clinic Professor)
FT. COLLINS, CO- Today Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, the Sierra Club and Earthworks filed a motion to intervene in the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s lawsuit against the City of Fort Collins in order to defend the City.
The Association is trying to overturn a five year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.” The Fort Collins moratorium on fracking passed as Ballot Measure 2A with 56% of the vote in November 2013 and was adopted as a City Ordinance.
“It is important to us as an organization that the moratorium is upheld. The voters of Fort Collins voted for a 5 year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in order to allow time for the results of studies in progress to be published and interpreted before deciding whether or how to allow “fracking” or the storage of hazardous waste in our community. This lawsuit, designed to overturn the moratorium, is a blatant attempt by COGA to bypass the will of the voters and possibly jeopardize public health, safety and property values in our community,” said Kelly Giddens of Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins.
“The industry so far has refused to come forward with any company that would actually be harmed by this limited time-out on fracking. If some company does intend to frack in Fort Collins, we’d like to know about it,” said Kevin Lynch of the University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic, which represents the citizens’ groups. “Regardless, we think there is no good reason not to wait and see the results of ongoing health and safety studies before the City decides whether or not to allow this industrial practice into its residents’ backyards.”
Over the past decade Colorado has experienced a boom in oil and gas drilling. Colorado currently has more than 50,000 active oil and gas wells covering much of the state’s landscape. The unconventional drilling practice of fracking is employed in 95% of Colorado oil and gas operations and has raised health and safety concerns for communities. Across Colorado’s northern plains, oil and gas companies are increasingly operating not only in sparsely populated areas, but also in towns and suburbs. Fort Collins is located 65 miles north of Denver and close to Colorado’s most productive oil and gas field.
“In response to the increase in drilling nearby, Fort Collins voters used the ballot box to protect their community from fracking,” said Catherine Collentine, Colorado Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “This industry operates with little regulation, monitoring or enforcement at the state or federal level. Citizens and local governments have every right to protect themselves, that’s why we’re stepping in to help.”
In the November 2013 election, three cities, including Fort Collins, passed moratoriums on fracking. Additionally, two cities have passed bans on fracking, one in 2013 in Lafayette and one in 2012 in Longmont. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has sued four of the five cities to reverse these limits on fracking.
“Apparently the oil and gas industry thinks there’s such a thing as too much democracy,” said Bruce Baizel, Director of Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project. “In Fort Collins and across the country, wherever voters choose to wait-and-see on fracking, industry sues to overturn the vote. Such bullying tactics simply confirm that the industry is losing the public debate.”
For more information on Sierra Club’s efforts to protect communities from harmful oil and gas operations go to http://content.sierraclub.org/naturalgas ; and to http://rmc.sierraclub.org/ ; and for Earthworks visit http://www.earthworksaction.org/ and for Citizens for a Healthy Ft. Collins see http://www.healthyfoco.com/.