Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gas Industry Sues Town Over Election Banning Fracking

Longmont, Colorado.  Click for photo credit.
This story from Bloomberg news details a case in which the city of Longmont, Colorado is being sued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry because its citizens voted to ban fracking.

This is a fascinating case and it involved the power of local people to decide if they can direct the types of activities that can take place within their jurisdictional borders via elections.  They certainly will experience any long-term negative impacts from fracking and it makes sense to me that they should be able to decide if they want the activity used in their city.  The industry claims that the law infringes upon property rights and state law.

I am not a lawyer, but I have had some law classes.  It is my understanding that local communities can develop local zoning or land use decisions.  Unless there is a Colorado law that prevents local communities from banning fracking in their communities, I do not see how the gas industry can win this one.

But, this raises a broader issue of corporate responsibility and basic ethics.  When I am not welcome at a party, I don't go.  If I showed up, it would hurt my reputation and the relationships that I might develop with the invitees for years.  I think the same basic logic holds true here.  Does the oil and gas industry want to damage their reputation by forcing themselves on a community that doesn't want them?

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