The citizens of Lafayette, CO filed a lawsuit against the State of Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association in hopes that a court will return control of drilling practices in the boundaries of the town to its local government. According to Ohio.com, residents are challenging the Colorado Oil and Gas Act on the grounds that the law infringes on “the constitutional right of residents of the community to local self-government.” Specifically, residents want to re-assert their right to prohibit fracking and all other forms of drilling within city limits.
“This class action lawsuit is merely the first of many by people across the United States whose constitutional rights to govern their own communities are routinely violated by state governments working in concert with the corporations that they ostensibly regulate. The people of Lafayette will not stand idly by as their rights are negotiated away by oil and gas corporations, their state government, and their own municipal government” said Thomas Linzey, Esq., Executive Director of Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), an organization that is providing legal support to the residents of Lafayette.
CELDG also helped residents draft the Community Bill of Rights, which includes a provision to ban all commercial drilling within the city limits. It’s this document that Lafayette residents claim trumps the Colorado Oil and Gas Act and allows them to enact a ban.
The lawsuit was timed to challenge Governor Hickenlooper’s newly-struck deal with Representative Jared Polis that reportedly allows local communities to pass restrictions on drilling with the exception of an outright ban on fracking. In return, Polis agreed to back out of promises to fund anti-fracking initiatives at the local level.
“This bill is arguably worse than the status quo,” said Sam Schabacker to the Colorado Independent. “This is worse than doing nothing. The rules it would put into place are not enforceable on a local level. It would continue to rely on the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to enforce them. Citizens in five cities have rejected that approach as inadequate.”