Colorado Springs City Council yesterday rejected the oil and gas ordinance it’s been working on for 18 months. The regulations would have required drillers to get a city permit, but didn’t prevent hydraulic fracturing from any zone within the city. KRCC’s Liz Ruskin reports.
Opponents of fracking held a rally outside city hall, then packed the council meeting, delivering two hours of sometimes passionate public comment. Activist Dave Gardner gave each council member a jar of water that he said came from a fracked well.
"And I really want to know, if you’re not willing to drink that water, then how you could in good conscience vote yes to open the door to the poisoning of our community and the water in this community."
Council President Scott Hente was one of four council members who voted no. He says his turning point was the night in January when state regulators met with council and told them state oil and gas law trumps many of the city’s usual powers.
"And that gentleman from the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission sat out there and he basically said -- and I’m paraphrasing -- ‘You have to do, Mr. Home Rule City, what we tell you to do.’ You know what? It just hardened the heart of this elected official."
Council members Jan Martin, Val Snider and Brandy Williams also voted no. Lisa Czedlatko was absent.
"And that issue fails on a 4-4 vote."
Councilwoman Angela Dougan voted for the regulations. She says mineral owners still have rights within the city, so what Council really did was forfeit a chance to hold companies responsible for things like maintenance.
"By not supporting this you didn’t get rid of fracking. Now it’s completely at the state’s hands. Colorado Springs has said ‘We can’t come up with regulations that will actually allow us to protect our roads if they are run.’"
Ultra Resources recently announced it no longer intends to drill on the Banning Lewis Ranch, but some council members say the city should try again to write regulations to prepare for future drilling plans.