As the date when the Boulder moratorium was set to end approaches, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman sent a friendly reminder to Boulder County Commissioners that oil and natural gas moratoriums will not hold up in court and she is prepared to take action. From the letter:
“The latest [moratorium], which was announced on December 13, 2016, extends through at least May 1, 2017. But, consistent with past practice, there is reason to suspect that the County will continue its pattern of extending its ‘temporary’ prohibition beyond even that date.
“The County’s continuous five-year ban on oil and gas development violates state law…. If Boulder County does not rescind its ban on oil and gas development by February 10, 2017, or if the County takes other steps to impede the efficient and responsible development of oil and gas resources, my office will take appropriate legal action consistent with the recent opinions of the Colorado Supreme Court.”
Coffman cited several cases in which the Colorado Supreme Court overturned local bans on oil and gas development because the industry is regulated at the state level. While this appears to be simply back and forth between the Attorney General and a rogue County Commission, there are real legal issues at stake.
As we reported in 2014, if Boulder wants to be frack free, it could cost the county billions. Yes, that’s billions with a “b.” There minerals under the ground in Boulder County and those mineral rights are just as real as someone who owns a home. So, when Boulder County puts a moratorium on oil and gas development, it prevents mineral owners from developing their land and they should be compensated.
But, of course, it’s the People’s Republic of Boulder and rules don’t apply…or so they think.
This is one we’ll be watching carefully.