Fracking is a hot topic in Colorado. Environmentalists worry about secondary effects which some scientists believe to include: earthquakes and water contamination. Proponents argue it brings jobs and money into the region.
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.
Good friends of mine live in Longmont, Colorado which is turning out to be ground zero in the fracking battle in Colorado. The city of Longmont claims “local rights” to zone fracking out from anywhere within the city. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the state’s largest industry group, sued in 2012 to overturn the ban. It was joined by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission — the state agency that regulates the industry — and TOP Operating, the principal oil and gas company active in Longmont.
The rights of cities to regulate land usage within their own boundaries is an interesting concept that is being tested legally in new ways because of fracking.
[T]his Article explores how local governments may regulate fracking under state preemption law, using Colorado as a case study. Colorado has a longstanding legal framework for
local government oil and gas regulation due to the industry’s continuous presence in the state prior to the recent fracking boom. Some eastern states have recently adopted Colorado’s approach. But lingering questions remain about the details of local authority, and conflict is brewing as many local governments begin to regulate fracking in their communities.
This Article addresses how the fracking boom presents unique challenges to local governments, their regulatory authority under Colorado law, and how they can approach regulation in a manner most likely to survive judicial review. It begins by explaining fracking’s socioeconomic and environmental impacts, focusing on impacts in rural Western communities. It emphasizes fracking’s socioeconomic impacts, which have been largely overlooked by other legal scholarship, yet constitute the strongest ground for local government regulation. The Article then addresses the legal
basis for local government fracking regulation under Colorado law. It highlights that Colorado local governments, especially home rule municipalities, enjoy broad authority over land use matters. Next, the Article critically examines four frameworks for local government regulation—guides published by two organizations, and ordinances already enacted in several Colorado cities. It concludes by advocating that Colorado local governments regulate the fracking boom through land use ordinances targeting the boom’s socioeconomic impacts, rather than ordinances that directly regulate fracking or that target the fracking boom’s environmental impacts.
— Joel Minor, Local Government Fracking Regulations: A Colorado Case Study, 33 Stan. Envtl. L.J. 59.
A really interesting reading for Coloradans, those on either side of the fracking debate, or those interested in the direction of zoning laws.