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Colorado Supreme Court Sides with Oil and Gas Industry on Fracking

On Monday, the Colorado State Supreme Court overturned two measures passed by Fort Collins and Longmont voters to limit hydraulic fracturing. (Metaphortography/iStockphoto)
On Monday, the Colorado State Supreme Court overturned two measures passed by Fort Collins and Longmont voters to limit hydraulic fracturing. (Metaphortography/iStockphoto)
May 3, 2016

DENVER - The Colorado Supreme Court struck down two measures on Monday passed by Fort Collins and Longmont voters to limit fracking.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association had petitioned the court to overturn the city laws, arguing state regulations trump municipalities and the justices agreed in a unanimous decision.

Lauren Petrie, Rocky Mountain region director for the group Food & Water Watch, says the ruling puts industry interests above Coloradans' constitutional right to defend their lives and safety.

"It's disappointing and it deals a devastating blow to Coloradans across the state," she says. "That have now been stripped of their fundamental right to protect their homes, their families, their health, their air and their water."

Petrie points to a recent study by the group Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, linking fracking to higher incidences of cancer, birth defects, and water and air pollution.

The Colorado Petroleum Council welcomed the court's decision, saying it would put a stop to "arbitrary bans" that could impact state and local economies. The group also claims the state is already regulating safe oil and gas development.

Petrie says the state's regulatory agency has failed to protect Colorado families from what she calls a dangerous industrial activity.

She cites a proposal, moving forward in Adams County, that could place fracking wells within 100 feet of homes and a middle school. She predicts the court's decision will add fuel to the fire for new ballot initiatives underway.

"It underscores the importance of getting these statewide measures passed, especially Initiative 75," she says. "Which would embed local control of oil and gas activity in our communities into the state's constitution."

The high court's decision is also expected to impact similar voter-approved limits on fracking in Boulder, Broomfield and Lafayette.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO