This past election season has brought another important energy issue squarely in the forefront of our American legal system, hydraulic fracturing as a natural gas extraction method. One notable town to have recently passed a ban on fracking is Longmont, CO, a small conservative town outside of Boulder, CO. With this most recent ban the city is likely to see a number of lawsuits arise involving both the energy industry as well as the state.
Longmont, has seen more than it’s fair share of lawsuits regarding bans on oil extraction near schools within the city. With a threat from the governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, expect a very long and drawn out legal battle to occur.
These city bans bring up interesting issues of local governance and what communities are able to control and not able to control. Is it good policy to allow the state to be the only government to decide on what types of energy production are allowed, or are small communities better able to make these decisions through an open democratic process governing their immediate surroundings.
Having spent 2 years living in Longmont while a graduate student at the University of Colorado, my sentiments align with the local community and the ban on fracking for the community and in the immediate vicinity of schools.
Moreover, it seems as though there is a very serious democratic deficit if the state government is the only entity allowed to regulate energy production, particularly when the residents of communities are not given extra weight for the fact that they have to live with whatever decision is made.
This issue is not a purely Colorado issue but one that is arising throughout the United States, earlier this year the city of Binghamton lost a battle in the N.Y. state court system regarding their own ban. Just looking at a list of New York state communities that are seeking to ban fracking, it seems that the movement is one that is growing and will continue to grow as fracking becomes a more prevalent means of energy extraction.