Colorado Supreme Court strikes down local fracking bans

A fracking rig in Texas
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court said that local bans on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are illegal, striking down a 2012 ban on the gas-extraction process in Longmont and a 2013 moratorium in Fort Collins. The local measures "were preempted by state law and, therefore... invalid and unenforceable," the high court said in its long-awaited ruling. The ruling upholds decisions by two lower courts and is a victory for the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, which had sued Longmont and Fort Collins to overturn the bans. Environmental groups said they will redouble efforts to get a statewide fracking ban on the November ballot.

States have approached fracking regulations differently. In Ohio, as in Colorado, the Supreme Court limited local control over the controversial drilling technique, and the Texas legislature banned local control over a bunch of drilling practices. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, allows local control over fracking, and New York has banned it entirely. With oil and gas drilling in a nationwide slump, the Colorado high court rulings are expected to have little immediate effect, The New York Times notes, but when fracking becomes profitable again, the populous eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains will likely see a lot of drilling activity.

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