A district court judge allows litigation to lift a Colorado frac ban to proceed

District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree has decided not to dismiss a motion from the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) to lift a local moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in Broomfield, Colorado. The city of Broomfield passed a measure in 2013 that put a five year moratorium on fracing. COGA filed a complaint for declaratory judgment to invalidate the frac ban on November 24, 2014, which the city of Broomfield asked to be dismissed.

In a written statement from Judge Crabtree, he said he would not throw out the complaint because COGA has legal standing to contest the ban, reports the Broomfield Enterprise. In the ruling, Crabtree said COGA effectively argued a loss of productivity “to a legally-protected interest – the right to develop oil and gas resources … without interference from local regulators.”

When Broomfield filed a motion to dismiss COGA’s complaint in January, the city said COGA could not prove it had been affected by the frac ban. Broomfield’s motion also claimed that COGA failed to identify specific oil and gas companies that had tried to frac in Broomfield “and been thwarted” by the ban.

COGA said that at least one company, Blue Chip Oil Inc., had a desire to use hydraulic fracturing in Broomfield, but was barred due to the ban.

Oil and gas company Sovereign also took legal action over the moratorium and won an exemption from the frac ban because of a memorandum of understanding it had in place with the city before voters approved the measure that halted fracing.

Colorado Remains Battleground for Oil & Gas Development

Governor John Hickenlooper, who was recently featured in an exclusive interview with Oil & Gas 360®, has historically sided with the energy industry. After a variety of pro and anti-development measures nearly made the ballot last November, the Governor implemented a 21-person task force to make recommendations on how to increase cooperation between producers and residents throughout the Centennial State. About a dozen proposals were made, intending to give the local communities “more voice” and more access to their neighboring operators. Those proposals are currently being reviewed.

Colorado has played host to numerous standoffs involving hydraulic fracturing and its practices. Five communities have enforced fracing bans since 2012, but the public has since begun to sway in favor of hydrocarbon development. The bans in three of the five communities were overturned in the span of just one month last summer, and another community close to the Denver-Julesburg Basin turned down a proposed fracing moratorium.

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