Oil fracking, a process using high-pressure injections of a mixture of chemicals, sand, and water to break into formations underground – hydraulic fracturing, ushered in an energy boom for Colorado in recent years. But not everyone is in favor of the process. Those living where it happens or might happen have concerns about health, property values, and the environment.
The City of Longmont issued a ban on fracking approved by voters in 2012. Fort Collins put a hold on any fracking for five years while they do a study about those concerns, approved by voters in 2013. But the oil and gas industry is fighting back, taking it to the state Supreme Court, requesting a ruling on the matter since state law says the local governments cannot override state law in such matters and state law allows oil and gas exploration. The two cases were both before the Supreme Court early in December and arguments were presented.
A ruling is not expected for several months, but even when one comes it probably won’t put an end to the battle. Critics of the fracking process have asked voters throughout the state and their legislators to put more limits on the entire industry, and they are lobbying hard – as are the oil and gas industry.
It’s hard to say where this battle may end, but when the court gets involved in such a heated matter, there are often no winners at the end. Colorado is rapidly growing, partly because of their open spaces and partly because of a lower cost of living than in many places. Their cities offer culture, sports, and the room to grow while their history is more independent and free-wheeling in many ways. The long-time residents have a certain reputation for fighting against what they consider heavy-handed government, so this battle probably won’t end quickly.
For lobbyists and PR people, there is plenty to help with in the coming battle. Showing the best that oil and gas companies bring to the table will be paramount and showing them as family-friendly and job-creating options might be a few areas they can use to push their case forward. On the other side of the table, those against fracking and the oil and gas industry, in general, have some complaints to bring to the table with concerns about excessive lights, fumes from the drilling rigs, and noise around-the-clock. The combination of those, they say make their homes barely livable at best while the oilfields encroach and impinge on their growing cities and towns.
In a state that often supports green, environmental and self-expression, the battle is likely just beginning. Either way, the fight is on.