LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — A state district judge struck down Longmont's voter-approved ban on hydraulic fracturing Thursday but stayed her decision while the city considers an appeal.
Judge D.D. Mallard ruled the ban conflicts with state regulations and Colorado's interest in efficiently developing oil and gas deposits.
"While the Court appreciates the Longmont citizens' sincerely-held beliefs about risks to their health and safety, the Court does not find this is sufficient to completely devalue the State's interest," Mallard wrote.
Longmont voters passed an amendment to the city charter in November 2012 that banned hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, which involves blasting underground rock formations with water, sand and chemicals so oil and natural gas can escape. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, along with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, sued to overturn the ban.
Mallard noted that the state's interest in developing oil and gas, and Longmont's interest in banning drilling create an "irreconcilable conflict" in which state rules take precedence. She also pointed to a 1992 Colorado Supreme Court ruling that said cities can't entirely ban drilling but can regulate oil and gas development.
Longmont officials said late Thursday they were reviewing the city's legal options.
"I am disappointed that the court has struck down Longmont's fracking restrictions, which were initiated and approved by our citizens and became part of Longmont's home rule charter over a year and a half ago," Mayor Dennis Coombs said in a news release. "I have been pleased with our vigorous defense of Longmont's charter, and we are considering all our options moving forward."
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