Broomfield residents want ballot question to put fracking safety in town charter

Author: Joey Bunch - June 7, 2017 - Updated: June 7, 2017

Broomfield fracking fight
(AP file photo/Brennan Linsley)


Anti-drilling activists said Wednesday morning they will try to amend the Broomfield city charter to add more consideration for public health and safety — the same kind of statewide proposal that’s tied up with the courts and in politics.

The group of nine filed paperwork with the city to start collected the necessary 2,500 petitions to get on the November ballot. The amendment is similar to the pending lawsuit brought by teenagers, backed by major environmental groups. The suit would force the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to use a clear “balancing test” to ensure the public and environment get the same consideration as drillers in the permitting process.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican and potential candidate for governor next year, said she would appeal a decision by the state Court of Appeals in March that instructs the state regulatory commission to consider the teens’ request. Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says the commission, which he appoints, already does that, so there’s no need for an appeal.

“It is time for the city and county of Broomfield to put public health and safety first,” activist Cristen Logan of Anthem Highlands said in a statement to Colorado Politics Wednesday morning. “Adding this language to our town charter will allow us to make sure that our representatives take our health, safety, and welfare into account when considering oil and gas development in Broomfield.”

Broomfield is one of the areas of the northeast metro region where expanding residential growth and the region’s fossil fuel energy development have clashed the hardest.

Fracking opponents haven’t been able to get the city to impose a moratorium,, If the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commissions rewrites its rules to include a more clear test for the balance fo safety and industry, operations would halt in the interim, which could be months or longer.

The city and county of Broomfield is updating its regulations, as the industry expands amid questions of its safety, after two recent explosions, including one that killed two people.

“By adding this language to our town charter, we’re ensuring that the guiding principals driving our future will put our children and our community first while encouraging businesses to operate at a higher standard in Broomfield,” Bill Young, another resident seeking the amendment, said in a statement.”

Colorado Politics e-mailed several oil and gas industry groups for reaction to the early-morning news of the intended Broomfield ballot issue. This story will be updated as reaction comes in.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.