Colorado Court Strikes Lower Local Fracking Bans that Conflict with Condition Law
On May 2, 2016, the Colorado Top Court issued opinions in 2 separate cases challenging local bans on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Victory for that gas and oil industry within the condition, the final Court held the challenged fracking bans were preempted by condition law in the two cases. These decisions highlight the legal principle or doctrine of “preemption” – if condition law enables a procedure, like fracking, a nearby government isn’t allowed to ban or outlaw it.
In Town of Fort Collins v. Colorado Gas and oil Association (No. 15SC668, 2016), the Colorado Gas and oil Association, a business trade association, sued the town of Fort Collins seeking a declaratory judgment that Fort Collins’ moratorium on fracking was preempted by condition law. In November 2013, the citizens of Fort Collins approved a citizen-initiated ordinance that placed a moratorium on “hydraulic fracturing and also the storage of their waste material within Fort Collins or on lands under its jurisdiction for 5 years, without exemption or exception, to be able to fully read the impacts of the process . . .” Opinion, at 5. To find the Condition of Colorado is interested in controlling fracking, a legal court held that Fort Collins’ fracking moratorium “renders the state’s statutory and regulatory plan superfluous” since it prevents gas and oil operators from submission with condition law that enables and regulates fracking. “In doing this, the moratorium materially impedes the effectuation from the state’s curiosity about the efficient and responsible growth and development of gas and oil sources.” Id. at 14.
Made the decision on the day that, a legal court in Town of Longmont v. Colorado Gas and oil Association (No. 15SC667, 2016) held that Longmont’s fracking ban “operationally conflicts with relevant condition law.” This Year, the citizens of Longmont dicated to add Article XVI to Longmont’s municipal charter. Much like Fort Collins’ moratorium, Article XVI banned fracking inside the city and prohibited storage and disposal of fracking wastes. A legal court examined the Colorado Gas and oil Conservation Act which states “[i]its the intent and purpose want to know , allowing each gas and oil pool in Colorado to create as much as its maximum efficient rate of production . . .” § 34-60-102. By prohibiting fracking, Article XVI also conflicted with condition law, and it was thus ruled invalid by preemption.
This isn’t the very first time that the condition court has ruled a nearby fracking ban invalid in line with the principle of “preemption.” In The month of january 2015, a federal district court in Boise State Broncos held that the local ban conflicted with condition and federal law. These decisions undermine the legality of localized bans on hydraulic fracturing in claims that otherwise have permitted or encouraged the improved hydrocarbon recovery technique ought to be condition law.