Colorado Congressman Jared Polis took quick action Wednesday (12/4) in wake of news that the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the industry's powerful state lobbying group, was suing Fort Collins for passing a moratorium and Lafayette for passing a full ban on hydraulic fracturing within city limits. He sent a fiery letter to COGA President Tisha Schuller.
"Ms. Schuller," the letter begins. "Please stop suing the communities I represent. Elections matter. In a democracy both sides get to make their case and the people have their say. In the lead up to the recent election, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) made its case by spending approximately $900,000 in an attempt to defeat the four ballot measures to ban or extend drilling moratoria on the hydraulic fracturing process ('fracking'). Still, the majority of Fort Collins, Boulder, Lafayette and Broomfield voters chose to pass measures to extend drilling moratoriums or fracking bans. ... I ask you to immediately withdraw your lawsuits against Fort Collins and Lafayette. Colorado home rule communities have held these rights for decades: the right to determine how their own city or town will look and feel; the right to decide between an expanding extractive industry and the value of their homes; and the right to balance increased development with the health and quality of life of community residents. Local governments have authority to regulate oil and gas land use activities because oil and gas operations are matters of local concern that directly involve the use of land and are an important issue for residents and neighborhoods."
Polis' sympathies are professional and personal. As I explained in an earlier posting, this summer and fall he tangled with Sundance Energy drillers who set up a fracking operation opposite a Weld County home he owns. A drill rig appeared overnight, across the road, in the scenic foothills setting where the home is located. The experience was one shared by increasing numbers of residents across Colorado's northern Front Range, where natural gas boom-time extraction has encroached on residential areas nearly unimpeded, drillers appearing to act with impunity.