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Colorado campaign on community’s right to ban fracking

Local Control Colorado is a coalition of groups including Food & Water Watch, 350 Colorado, Frack Free Colorado, and other groups.

They note in a media release that, “On Friday, Feb. 21, Local Control Colorado submitted language to the Colorado Legislative Council for a constitutional amendment to give local communities in Colorado control over whether to allow the controversial oil and gas extraction method of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in their communities. …Once the language is approved in accordance with Colorado rules and statutory requirements, Local Control Colorado will need to collect 86,000 signatures by August 4 to qualify for the statewide ballot in November.”

They add, “In the past 15 months, five Colorado communities made history by passing local ballot measures to stop fracking in Longmont, Fort Collins, Boulder, Lafayette and Broomfield, despite nearly $1.3 million in combined spending by the oil and gas industry to defeat these initiatives. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has subsequently sued Fort Collins, Longmont and Lafayette to undermine these democratic votes to protect health, safety and property from fracking. Governor Hickenlooper has also authorized the use of state money to launch two separate lawsuits against Longmont over its efforts to protect its citizens from fracking.”

“Despite these intimidation tactics, Coloradans in Loveland, Greeley, Colorado Springs, Delta County and dozens of other communities across the state have joined a chorus of hundreds-of-thousands of Coloradans speaking out in favor of protecting their health, safety and property from the extreme oil and gas extraction method of fracking.”

Experiences in Canada

  1. In January 2014, Council of Canadians vice-chairperson Leo Broderick advocated for ‘social licence’ whereby companies would need the permission of local residents to frack, even if government were to give its permission. He said, “If people don’t want fracking, there should be no fracking.”


  2. In 2013, the town of Gaspé, Quebec passed a municipal bylaw to protect its drinking water from oil drilling by Pétrolia, a Quebec City-based energy company. “The bylaw prohibited the introduction into the ground of any substance that could have an impact on the quality of underground or surface water within 10 kilometres from a municipal surface water site.” In February 2014, the Superior Court of Quebec struck down the bylaw ruling that the town infringed on provincial jurisdiction when it passed the bylaw.


  3. In May 2013, Inverness County, Nova Scotia passed a bylaw that bans fracking. The county’s warden says the bylaw is about the municipality’s right to protect the health of its residents and the surrounding environment. An NDP provincial government minister at that time said that Inverness County council has no authority to make law in areas of provincial jurisdiction and that the bylaw would not supersede provincial authority over mineral rights.


  4. In November 2010, Moncton, New Brunswick city council passed a resolution requesting that the provincial government make no exemptions for oil and gas exploration and fracking in or around the Turtle Creek watershed. Provincial legislation does not allow for oil and gas exploration in a watershed such as Turtle Creek, but the province does have the right to grant exemptions to that rule.


  5. Even before the Harper government reluctantly recognized in principle the right to water and sanitation, we asked cities to recognize the right to water and sanitation through Blue Community Project resolutions – and they did. And numerous Canadian cities have passed resolutions calling “for a clear, permanent exemption” from the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement in order “to protect the autonomous powers” from unfair trade disciplines.

Ben Price of the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund says, “Corporate privileges must be subordinated to the right of communities to protect their health, safety and welfare by legislating against the local siting of factory farms, GMOs, toxic landfills, sewage-sludge dumping, huge water withdrawals, long-wall and mountain top removal ‘mining’ – you name it.”

The Council of Canadians supports a community’s right to veto, their democratic rights and autonomous powers, and fully encourages communities to assert these rights and the rights of nature.