As A Boulder County Oil And Gas Moratorium Ticks Down, Environmental Groups Call For A Full Fracking Ban

Grace Hood/CPR News
350 Colorado and the Lookout Alliance delivered 1,000 individual signatures in support of a fracking ban to Boulder County commissioners on Jan. 7, 2020.

Environmental groups warned Tuesday that a hydraulic fracturing ban is needed to ward off the health concerns in Boulder County caused by oil and gas development.

The Lookout Alliance and 350 Colorado delivered about 1,000 individual signatures in support of the move at a regularly scheduled Boulder County commissioners meeting. 

The organizations cited elevated levels of benzene and other chemicals recorded at Boulder Reservoir, in addition to a recent state health research report.

“We believe that the harm is already being done [by oil and gas development], and a ban would be the best path forward,” 350 Colorado campaign coordinator Deborah McNamara said.

The move came the same day Colorado Rising announced it has submitted language on six proposed ballot measures to limit the impacts of oil and gas development.

A 2016 Colorado Supreme Court Ruling struck down local governments’ ability to enact long-term bans and moratoriums. But environmental advocates argue that new oil and gas reform legislation that prioritizes health and safety gives Boulder County the legal cover to pursue a long-term fracking ban. 

The county’s moratorium on development expires March 2020. Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones said officials are considering all legal options for when the moratorium expires, including a ban.

The county’s legal team is currently sorting out “conflicting” legal options on whether such a move would withhold legal scrutiny, Jones said.

350 Colorado said they will continue to attend county commissioners meetings until the March deadline passes.

“Today is just the beginning,” McNamara said.