Monday, January 5, 2015

Can Local Communities Ban Fracking?

The New York Times has a fascinating piece on the status of local fracking bans that was published over the weekend.

If you go back to this post from December of 2012, you'll see that Longmont, Colorado voted to ban fracking.  As a result, the oil companies sued Longmont (and won, although the case is on appeal).  In my earlier post, I noted the role of local communities in regulating land use within their jurisdiction.  However, I was incorrect in one assumption.  In Colorado, the state regulates subsurface extraction activities.  My belief that the local community would win the case was wrong.  The oil companies have successfully argued that the state regulates their activities.

However, the law on this does seem to be a bit wobbly since according to the article the case is on appeal.  Plus, more and more communities are interested in banning fracking.  As noted in the Times article, the oil companies, through their lawsuits, are causing tremendous financial costs on local communities that can ill afford them.  This obviously discourages local communities from enacting a fracking ban.  Putting one in place will likely raise taxes or cause a cut in services in order to pay for the expensive lawsuits brought forward.

While the oil companies may win the battle, they ultimate do the oil and gas industry a disservice by going after these little communities.  Through this initiative they tarnish the reputation of the industry.

No comments: