Monday, May 2, 2016: Colorado Supreme Court to rule on industry suing Fort Collins and Longmont over the cities’ voter-approved frac bans. Longmont also sued by Colorado energy regulator and the company that wants to frac residents, TOP Operating Co.

Court to announce ruling on Fort Collins fracking moratorium by Jason Pohl, April 30, 2016, The Coloradoan

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday will announce its long-awaited decision about the legality of Fort Collins’ fracking moratorium.

The announcement comes almost five months after attorneys made their arguments to Colorado’s high court in December. The decision could have statewide implications. A ruling against Longmont’s voter-supported ban on hydraulic fracturing or Fort Collins’ voter-supported five-year moratorium on the practice could invalidate, or at least complicate, similar laws across the state.

… The Colorado Oil and Gas Association sued both cities in separate cases and won in the lower courts, resulting in the bans getting thrown out. Both cities appealed the lower court’s decisions, and the state appeals court in August asked the Supreme Court to take the cases.

The cases have come to represent an ongoing debate in Colorado and across the country about whether regulation of the oil and gas industry should belong to state or municipalities.

The announcement is expected to be released no later than 10 a.m. [Emphasis added]

Supreme Court to rule on suits over local fracking regulations by Cathy Proctor, April 29, 2016, Denver Business Journal

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday will issue decisions in a pair of closely watched, hard-fought legal battles over whether local governments can ban fracking within their borders.

In the two cases, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) sued the cities of Fort Collins and Longmont over voter-approved efforts to halt the use of hydraulic fracturing there.

Longmont also was sued by by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency that regulates the industry, and TOP Operating Co., a Lakewood oil and gas firm that has mineral rights to oil and natural gas resources underneath that city.

“COGA looks forward to the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision on Monday,” said COGA President and CEO Dan Haley.

“Our attorneys made a strong case based on long-standing legal precedents, and we are confident that the Supreme Court will agree that the ban implemented in Longmont and the Fort Collins’ moratorium are illegal and preempted by current law,” Haley said in a statement emailed Friday afternoon.

However the court rules, Haley said COGA’s “commitment to Colorado and its communities” won’t change.

“We will continue to do the difficult and important work of finding reasonable and workable solutions with our friends and neighbors throughout the state so we can responsibly develop our natural resources,” [and legally poison families and communities (fiends and neighbours) across Colorado?] he said.

In 2012, Longmont voters approved a ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, within the city’s borders.

In 2013, Fort Collins voters approved a five-year moratorium on fracking inside the city.

Both cities were sued in separate legal cases.

District court judges previously ruled the two cities’ bans on fracking are illegal under state law. The state’s appeals court decided it wouldn’t weigh in on the matter and passed it to the Colorado Supreme Court, which accepted the cases last September. [Only 8 months to accept the case, hear it and rule!]

Every seat in the chamber of the state Supreme Court was filled Dec. 15 when the justices heard oral arguments in the two cases.

Protesters also were in the chambers, having arrived at the courthouse early that day to wave signs at traffic passing by the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in downtown Denver.

The two cases revolve around the limits of authority that local governments have to [protect their constituents from a devastating, toxic industry] regulate oil and gas operations within their borders.

Attorneys for COGA argued that the state of Colorado has an overriding interesting in the production of its underground oil and natural gas resources and that decades of state law clearly placed authority to regulate fracking in the hands of state officials at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Mark Mathews, an attorney for Denver’s Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck law firm, is the lead attorney on COGA’s lawsuits.

Longmont’s assistant city attorney, Daniel Kramer, told the justices in December that oil and gas companies didn’t have to use fracking to reach oil and gas reserves.

Barbarba Green, an attorney with Denver’s Sullivan Green Seavy law firm representing Fort Collins, argued that that city’s voter-approved five-year moratorium is different than a complete ban because it only lasts five years. That’s the time the city believes it needs to conduct a study the impacts oil and gas drilling might have on the city, she said.

Local governments already oversee such things as traffic routes and dust mitigation.

But some jurisdictions have sought to banish the state’s multibillion-dollar oil and gas sector from their communities altogether in response to residents complaining about the impacts of drilling rigs near homes and worried about health and environmental issues.

The legal cases have drawn attention nationwide [and internationally] because Colorado is at the forefront of the issue of conflicts over oil and gas operations close to towns and neighborhoods.

The cases are 15-SC668 – City of Fort Collins v. Colorado Oil and Gas Association and 15-SC667 – City of Longmont v. Colorado Oil and Gas Association. [Emphasis added]

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