Colorado Youth Environmental Activists Win Court Round In Oil And Gas Case

Updated March 24 -- Colorado's second-highest court says state regulators can put more weight on protecting public health and the environment when they draw up rules for oil and gas drilling.

Thursday's Court of Appeals ruling in Xiuhtezcatl Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation could have major implications for Colorado's long-running battle over the proliferation of wells near urban areas, but it might face a review by the state Supreme Court.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association said in a statement Friday the ruling ignores decades of precedent and asserted that regulators are already taking the court's concerns into account.

A spokesman said regulators had no immediate comment.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of six young people by Our Children's Trust, an environmental advocacy group.

They had asked regulators to require that energy companies show they wouldn't harm human health or the environment before getting a drilling permit.

Regulators said they didn't have that authority under Colorado law, but the court disagreed and told them to reconsider.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, one of the plaintiffs in the case, is from Boulder and spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner last year about his activism.