This should have been viewed as inevitable, when Gov. John Hickenlooper decided he’d place his own political survival over what was best for Colorado. In typical Boulder being Boulder fashion, last Thursday the Boulder county commissioners voted to extend their fracking ban for another 3 ½ years. This comes despite recent judicial rulings here in Colorado, that such bans are illegal. As John Fryar from The Longmont Times-Call reports:
Boulder County commissioners voted Thursday to extend the county’s moratorium on new oil and gas development for another 3 ½ years.
The moratorium, which applies to new applications for drilling and operating oil and gas wells in unincorporated parts of the county, was originally imposed in February 2012, has been extended several times since then and was set to expire Jan. 1, 2015.
…Asked for a Colorado Oil and Gas Association reaction, Doug Flanders, director of that industry organization’s policy and external affairs, said in a Thursday afternoon email that “COGA is evaluating all of its options now that the commissioners have unanimously decided to ignore recent judicial rulings that bans on fracking and energy development are illegal.”
Said Flanders: “By extending their ban to 2018, it would be in effect even longer than Fort Collins’ five-year moratorium that a district judge already has ruled to be illegal.” [the Peak’s emphasis]
Yet, the most unfortunate aspect of this entire episode is that it could have been completely avoided. Had the voters of Colorado had a chance to weigh in on the issue with the competing ballot initiatives originally scheduled to be on the ballot this November, everyone in Colorado would have a clearer idea of which way we wanted to steer our state. Instead, in an act of political cravenness, Hickenlooper, in characteristic fashion, punted on the issue, rather than risk a Democratic civil war that would have put his political life at risk. Now, Coloradans are nowhere nearer to resolving this issue than we were a year ago.
This legal ambiguity creates an opening for the self-righteous, Boulder fracking neophytes to step in and spread their campaign of misinformation. This headache created by Hickenlooper kicking the can down the road is just the most recent illustration how his lack of leadership hurts Colorado.
Here’s hoping the Republican-led state Senate can stand up for our $29 Billion a year industry that allowed Hick to run all over the state this last fall shouting “40th to 4th in job growth” to anyone who would listen.
The irony? Without Colorado’s highly-regulated fracking boom that Hickenlooper refuses to stick up for, most likely Colorado’s economy wouldn’t have been strong enough for him to get re-elected.