Two years ago, one may have questioned the future of of oil and gas development in Colorado. In 2012 and 2013, five towns in the state banned hydraulic fracturing and many wondered whether others were going to follow suit. Since then, judges have lifted bans in three of those five cities and numerous other proposals to prohibit fracking have been denied. The latest defeat came this week in Boulder County, CO, where the board of trustees for the town of Erie voted 4-3 to reject a proposed one-year emergency moratorium on new drilling permits within it’s borders.
Like other towns that have rejected or overturned drilling bans, Erie cites the need to represent its constituents.
“We were elected to represent our citizens and do what we honestly believe is best for the town, and I don’t believe that enacting a moratorium is what is best for the town,” said trustee Waylon Schutt, “I think it will hinder our ability to negotiate MOUs. I think it will send a lot of taxpayer money toward litigation.”
This sentiment is echoed in Brighton, CO, one of the five towns that originally banned fracking. Next month, Brighton will work on passing an ordinance facilitating development of oil and gas resources while mitigating impacts on groundwater. The city’s about-face regarding fracking/oil and gas development is part of a larger shift in public opinion, as people realize that environmentally responsible development is a concern of both citizens and oil companies.
Energy Council of West Weld chairman Chad Auer sums up the decision nicely, saying in a statement that “The [Erie] decision reflects the choice to pursue leadership rather than activism…Erie continues the example set by other communities in the state that looks for ways to balance the prosperity and value delivered by the energy industry with preservation of neighborhoods and nature.”