This morning, the Colorado Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases where cities sought reinstatement of their bans on hydraulic fracturing and certain other oil and gas related activities within their city limits.
In one case, the Fort Collins, Colorado, city council had banned hydraulic fracturing in 2013. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association filed lawsuits challenging the ban and moratorium, arguing that bans are illegal because only the state has the ability to regulate drilling, not cities or municipalities. Followers of the issue have made the case that taking the permitting process out of the state’s hands and handing off authority to local cities and towns would result in a “checkerboard” of regulations across the state that would make permitting for oil and gas development extremely difficult and could deter investment by oil and gas companies in the state.
Oil rig in Weld County, Colorado – the Wattenberg Field
The City of Longmont passed its own regulations concerning oil and gas exploration within city limits, leading to a lawsuit filed by the Colorado attorney general. Afterward, Longmont voters passed a ban on fracing. Lower courts in Boulder and Larimer counties overturned the ban and the moratorium, ruling that regulation of oil and gas drilling is the sole purvey of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
The Colorado Court of Appeals asked the Colorado Supreme Court to hear the Longmont and Fort Collins cases.
The video files of today’s Supreme Court proceedings for both cases may be viewed here. Each side of the argument was given 30 minutes to present its case to the Supreme Court, in both cases–9:00 a.m. for Case Number 15SC667, City of Longmont v. Colorado Oil and Gas Association, and 10:00 a.m. for Case Number 15SC668, City of Fort Collins v. Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
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