Colo. High Court Takes Case Of Cities That Seek Fracking Bans

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
<p>In this March 25, 2014 photo, workers talk during a hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. well pad in Weld County, near Boulder County. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” can greatly increase the productivity of an oil or oil well by splitting open rock with water and/or sand pumped underground at high pressure.</p>

The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether cities can ban hydraulic fracturing, stepping into a high-stakes battle over whether local governments can impose tougher oil and gas rules than the state.

The court agreed Monday to hear cases from Longmont and Fort Collins. Longmont voters banned hydraulic fracturing in 2012. Fort Collins voters approved a 5-year moratorium in 2013.

Lower courts overturned the restrictions after the Colorado Oil and Gas Association filed suit, saying regulation is the state's prerogative.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, injects a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals underground to break open formations and make it easier to recover oil and gas. It's a widespread practice that led to an energy boom.

Opponents worry about health and environmental effects. The industry says it's safe.