Longmont: City Appeals Fracking Ban

On August 26 the Longmont City Council voted unanimously to appeal the ruling of the Boulder District Court Judge D.D. Mallard overturning the fracking ban in Longmont. The decision was made in executive session with little discussion afterwards during the public meeting. The decision surprised observers, who had thought the City would accept the judge’s ruling.

The City Attorney Eugene Mei didn’t provide a long list of reasons to appeal. He listed the possibility that an appeal would extend the ban between two to five years, defending the citizen-approved charter provision and a chance to increase local control as positives. On the other hand, the downsides of appealing the ruling were more convincing. Mei and the legal team hired to defend the City admitted it was an uphill battle to prevail on the merits of the case, saying it could be a “chance to create bad law.” The appeal could involve years of litigation and between $75,000 to $350,000 in legal fees depending on whether the case goes all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The motion to appeal the ruling was made by Bonnie Finley, who said there is “a need for clarity” and urged other municipal governments to join the appeal. (The courts have also overturned Bans in Fort Collins and Lafayette.) Polly Christensen said she agreed with the motion, adding, “Every area of Longmont will be fracked if we don’t do something.” Council member Jeff Moore may have hinted at the Council’s strategy. He said, “This is the first shot in the war. Longmont needs to make a statement and let the (Colorado) legislature do something.” Gabe Santos did not speak during the public hearing but later said the public would have to trust the Council regarding its decision to appeal the ruling.

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