It looks like that the same backdoor ban on fracking Gov. Hickenlooper appeared to be avoiding by his creation of the oil and gas task force has crept into the process under the guise of local control.

Energy in Depth reports that task force member Jim Fitzgerald, who has ties to the activist group Earthworks, “is using his position to promote the same kind of local energy bans that the 21-person energy panel was formed to prevent.”

Only worse.

Fitzgerald’s proposal would give local government the power to approve permits that have already cleared the state scrutiny process. If the permit is rejected, the state and locality have 30 days to find a compromise before they fire up the litigation mobile and take taxpayers for a very expensive ride.

Fitzgerald’s proposal is broad enough that local governments could impose blanket bans on permitting, and it would replace the state’s current regulatory system for oil and gas development with protracted litigation. It is, in effect, the same or even worse than last year’s “environmental bill of rights” initiative, promoted by millionaire Boulder Congressman Jared Polis (D) to legalize local energy bans.

By the way, Gwen Lachelt, who co-chairs the task force, is also one of co founders of Earthworks and the Oil and Gas Accountability Project.

Energy in Depth says that “anti-energy groups have waged a campaign to mislead and pressure the task force into recommending the same ‘ban fracking’ agenda they tried to get on the ballot last year.”

That strategy now appears to have resulted in the recommendation from Fitzgerald, one of the co-founders of the Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project. Earthworks actively supports local energy bans in Colorado and recently admitted it’s waging a “war on fracking.”

Meanwhile, the Denver Post bluntly reports (Disclaimer: It was sympathetically written by Mark Jaffe) that the task force is struggling over the “key issue of creating a larger role for local government in oversight.”

“The role of local government is the central issue,” said task force member Jon Goldin-Dubois, president of the environmental group Western Resource Advocates.

The task force meets again today to review its recommendations that are due on the governor’s desk by Feb. 27.

Jaffe reports they will again focus on the issue of backdoor banning local control.

“It is clear local government needs more of a role,” said Bernie Buescher, a task force member and former Colorado secretary of state.