Colorado Officials Take Sides in Fracking Dispute

Some 60 mayors and city council members from 17 communities have asked Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to have the state drop a lawsuit over fracking that challenges oil and gas drilling rules adopted by the city of Longmont.

At issue is whether the state alone has the power to regulate oil and gas drilling, or whether local communities can add stipulations to how and where drilling can be performed. Hickenlooper and the energy producers argue that a patchwork of regulations is unworkable.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique for extracting oil and gas from shale formations by blasting water, sand and chemicals into the ground. Opponents have expressed environmental and health concerns over the process, but supporters say companies have been fracking safely for years.

Longmont’s measures limit surface oil and gas operations and facilities to non-residential zones, encourage companies to consolidate operations in fewer overall facilities, and fast-track the city’s review process for companies meeting voluntary standards. Other local governments across Colorado are rallying to Longmont’s side.