Boulder Officials ‘Would Prefer’ That Oil and Gas Hearing Not Hear ‘Resumption of Calls’ for Bans
Today, the Board of County Commissioners of Boulder, Colo., will be holding a public hearing to discuss proposed updates to county regulations on oil and natural gas development. Expecting “ban fracking” activists to show up and lobby the hearing, officials told the media they “would prefer that the hearing not turn into a resumption of calls for Boulder County to indefinitely extend the series of oil and gas moratoriums it’s had in place since February 2012, or converting the present moratorium to an outright ban.”
The Longmont Times-Call interviewed Deb Gardner, chairwoman of the board of county commissioners and former chair and treasurer of the Boulder County Democratic Party, and reported:
“Gardner said the commissioners would prefer that the hearing not turn into a resumption of calls for Boulder County to indefinitely extend the series of oil and gas moratoriums it’s had in place since February 2012, or converting the present moratorium to an outright ban.
“Gardner said the commissioners have been advised by their attorneys advisers that under current state statutes and court decisions, a county ban on oil and gas drilling and production — or even a moratorium that’s kept in place longer than needed to craft and adopt regulations that will apply when drilling resumes — aren’t legally possible.”
Nevertheless, “ban fracking” activists are not only expected to lobby the county commissioners at the hearing, but they will also be holding a rally “to push them to stand by the moratorium no matter what!” The rally is organized by groups including Frack Free Colorado (FFC) and 350.org, which have a long history of attempting and failing to ban oil and natural gas development in the state.
FFC, which helped set up local “ban fracking” campaigns across Northern Colorado, including in Boulder, is one of the many groups created by Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch (F&WW) as part of its attempt to put local faces on its national political campaign against U.S. energy development. The Colorado Statesman has identified F&WW as one of the “major players behind the anti-fracking movement” that “played a key role in supporting initiatives to ban or delay fracking in local communities” across the state. F&WW’s partner in “ban fracking” activism, 350.org, runs a “keep it in the ground” campaign, which seeks to ban the production of oil, natural gas, and coal – the energy sources that provide 81 percent of the country’s power.
Ahead of another Boulder County Commissioners’ hearing on oil and natural gas development at the end of the year, 350.org rallied supporters to attend the meeting by comparing oil and natural gas regulations to slavery and urging them to “stand up against” laws:
“While we acknowledge the Supreme Court’s ruling last spring that local governments cannot place extended moratoria or bans on fracking, we must also remember that many other oppressive policies, such as slavery and women and people of color not having the right to vote, have at times in history been the rule of law, and that it is our duty to stand up against unfair laws – in court if necessary.”
The latest iteration of Boulder’s five-year-old series of moratoria on oil and natural gas development is set to expire on May 1. Last month, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman filed a lawsuit against Boulder County over its series of moratoria, writing in a court filing that Boulder’s “open defiance of state law has made legal action the final recourse available.” A Colorado Supreme Court ruling last year found local bans on development “invalid and unenforceable.”
When asked to comment on the lawsuit at an event last Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said, “I respect the attorney general; I understand where she’s coming from on this.” “The attorney general did what she felt was right and important,” he added.
On March 6, Longmont resident Cathy Jarrett wrote to Boulder County, calling on it to “stop using continuing illegal moratoria to prevent Boulder County from allowing fracking”:
“Fracking has been used safely for over a half a century. Please stop using continuing illegal moratoria to prevent Boulder County from allowing fracking here. …
“My home is heated with natural gas. My car uses gasoline produced from oil. My computer, refrigerator, stove, electric lights, etc. are using electricity. The nearest power plant uses natural gas to produce electricity. Even my bicycle was made using electricity. I can afford to pay the monthly bills for this energy because we have domestic oil and gas production.
“Without this affordable and available energy we would be living as people did 150 years ago. … Why should we have this energy that allows us to have the life we enjoy, but not allow it to be produced here?”
Energy In Depth will be present at the hearing.