On February 19, 2013, the Fort Collins City Council became the second city in Colorado to move forward with a ban on hydraulic fracturing. The City Council gave initial approval to an ordinance that would bar oil and gas exploration, including hydraulic fracturing, within the city limits.
The next day, Governor John Hickenlooper’s office weighed in on Fort Collins’ proposed ban, again expressing its position that outright bans violate private property rights, and that the better approach is regulations to protect health and safety. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (“COGA”), which has a lawsuit pending against the City of Longmont over its voter-approved referendum that banned hydraulic fracturing, echoed similar sentiments. According to COGA, if the Fort Collins ban passes, it will assess the need for legal action. The state, which also sued the City of Longmont over its regulations (but not the voter-approved ban), indicated that it too would need to explore litigation if the ban passes.
The potential for new oil and gas development within the city of Fort Collins has been reported as low to moderate. In December 2012, the City Council authorized a moratorium preventing any further drilling of oil and gas wells within the city limits. That moratorium is in place until July 31, 2013. It remains to be seen if the City Council will give final approval to the ordinance that was proposed on February 19.
On Friday, February 22, 2013, reports surfaced that the views of certain businesses in Fort Collins may not have been accurately reflected by COGA. COGA has acknowledged that mistakes were made in obtaining signatures on petitions from Fort Collins businesses it claimed were opposed to the City’s proposed ban. COGA is conducting an internal investigation to determine what happened and why certain businesses’ views were incorrectly stated by COGA. Media coverage of the recent activities in Fort Collins can be found here, here, and here.