By The Denver Post
We can think of at least four major reasons why Longmont voters should reject Question 300, a ban on hydraulic fracturing within city limits in Longmont, Colo.
1. The courts will almost certainly overrule it. As recently as 1992, the state high court said Greeley could not impose a "total ban on the drilling of any oil, gas, or hydrocarbon wells within the city limits." Yet given modern practices, a ban on fracking is nearly equivalent to a total drilling ban.
2. If the courts don't overrule it, it is likely to cost city taxpayers a fortune. Mineral rights are property rights. They can't just be taken away without compensation.
The owners of the mineral rights undoubtedly will sue Longmont for a large sum of money, and it would be quite surprising if the courts simply brushed the petitioners aside.
3. The ban isn't needed. We're not suggesting drilling near populated areas is without problems ranging, for example, from noise and lighting to dust and truck traffic. And there are possible issues involving
Nor has Colorado been standing still in terms of regulations. It now boasts one of the nation's most comprehensive sets of rules governing disclosure of fracking fluids. And just recently, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued notice for a Nov. 14 hearing on proposed new rules for drilling setbacks in populated areas, along with aesthetic and noise control regulations.
Meanwhile, Gov. John Hickenlooper has made it clear he wants to enhance regulations addressing methane emissions and water sampling, among other things.
In short, Colorado officials are anything but in denial regarding public concerns over the growth of drilling and its environmental and lifestyle impacts. Indeed, they have shown a willingness time and again to fine-tune or tighten rules.
However, updating drilling rules is one thing; banning drilling altogether is something else entirely, particularly when some of the most vocal activists oppose fracking in any locale and recite charges involving groundwater contamination, for example that simply don't stand up to the facts.
4. A "yes" vote would play into the hands of those who want to restrict or ban fracking everywhere. Modern drilling techniques have been a boon to Colorado and the nation, and it's important to find the right mix of regulations that preserve health and safety while allowing energy production to thrive. That's what Colorado and many local communities have been striving to achieve, and what will no doubt work in Longmont, too.