Colorado Supreme Court Won’t Reconsider Martinez Oil And Gas Health Protection Ruling

January 29, 2019
Photo: Martinez Case Colo Supreme Court | Attorney Olson - DBoyce
Attorney Julia Olson speaks to a gathering of supporters after arguing before the Colorado Supreme Court in the long-running  Xiuhtezcatl Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation case, Oct. 16, 2018.

The Colorado Supreme Court refused to reconsider its ruling that oil and gas regulators do not have to make health and environmental protection their top priority.

The court offered no explanation in its announcement, dated Monday and made public Tuesday.

Seven young plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit seeking stronger health and environmental rules had asked the court to revisit the Jan. 14 ruling. The plaintiffs include Boulder activist Hispanics and Native Americans, and they argued that a lower court judge who had a hand in the case may have been biased against them.

The judge, Laurie Booras of the state Court of Appeals, wrote an opinion opposing the plaintiffs, and the Supreme Court cited her opinion in its ruling.

Booras resigned in January after a disciplinary panel said she used racial slurs and demeaning nicknames for a Native American woman and a Hispanic woman. The Hispanic woman was a fellow Court of Appeals judge.

The panel said Booras created the appearance of impropriety and undermined public trust in her impartiality.

The panel also said Booras told a third party that she intended to write an opinion against the plaintiffs, a violation of confidentiality rules.

Booras' attorney, David Beller, did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

Our Children's Trust, which supported the young plaintiffs, said it was disappointed that the Supreme Court would not reconsider the case nor explain why.

"The seven youth plaintiffs, and all Coloradans, deserve an explanation from the Colorado Supreme Court," the group said in a statement.

Julia Olson, an attorney and executive director of Our Children's Trust, represented the plaintiffs.

The original lawsuit argued that state law requires the oil and gas commission to ensure energy development does not harm people's health or the environment. The plaintiffs asked the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2013 to require those protections before issuing any drilling permits.

The commission refused, saying the law required it to balance health and environmental concerns with other factors. The Supreme Court agreed with the commission.

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