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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandFebruary 13, 20187min628
The Colorado Ethics Commission Monday spent close to two hours deliberating on the facts and issues in an ethics complaint filed against Fort Collins Republican Sen. Vicki Marble. While the commission appeared to lean toward dismissing the complaint, they decided to hold off on a vote until their next meeting on March 5. Marble is […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 7, 20174min1751

Broomfield voters gave a 57 percent edge to giving local government more say-so on whether oil-and-gas wells are safety and healthy. At the very least it was a major moral victory for opponents of the oil-and-gas industry in the fast-developing countryside north of Denver.

Industry and business coalitions on the right, and environmental groups on the left together spent and estimated $500,000 in direct campaign spending and community organizing around Question 301.

And now both sides are bound to spend more money on legal fees once the ballots and victory party festivities are packed away.

Broomfield residents made a statement about how they feel about oil-and-gas development close to homes and businesses, but it the win could come with costly results for taxpayers. If history is any guide, industry will follow through on threats to take the city to court.

In June, city attorney Bill Tuthill warned proponents that the amendment would be difficult to defend, and now it’s job to defend it. He read from a statute that said the city charter couldn’t repeal vested property or contract rights, such as those that accompany wells and mineral rights.

“In the simplest terms, this statute says you can’t undo a contract by passing a city charter amendment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Monday night the Lafayette City Council passed a six-month moratorium that’s likely headed to court at taxpayers’ expense.

Fracking has fought and won before in these parts before.

Fort Collins, Longmont and (in 1992) Greeley have tried to regulate or ban oil-and-gas drilling, but the State Supreme Court turned them back. Lower courts thwarted Boulder and Larimer counties’ attempts.

Jim Alexee, executive director of the Colorado Sierra Club, noted on Election night that his side was outspent 10 to 1 in the fracking fight in Broomfield.

“Voters saw through the oil and gas industry’s corrosive, corrupt influence on our politics,” he said. “Together, individuals from across the political spectrum voted to stand with scientists and Colorado families by voting for a commonsense, bipartisan fracking solution.”

He called the win “a shot across the bow” for the oil and gas industry.

“Over the past several years, the oil and gas industry has spent over $80 million dollars to influence public opinion,” he said of the amount oil-and-gas interests have invested in public outreach in Colorado. “It’s clear that Coloradans have grown tired of their deception.”

Vital for Colorado, a broad business coalition that supports energy development, indicated litigation is inevitable.

“Question 301 was the fourth political fight in Broomfield just this year, and anti-oil and gas groups lost the first three contests,” Vital for Colorado chairman and CEO Peter Moore said. “They pushed a temporary oil and gas ban, organized a recall election, and tried to derail a new agreement that allows continued energy development in Broomfield – and all these efforts failed.

“At best, Question 301 — which flies in the face of state law by declaring ‘plenary authority’ over oil and gas permitting decisions — will trigger lawsuits and force Broomfield taxpayers to waste large sums of public money on litigation.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 11, 20173min1606

You know the war over Broomfield’s anti-fracking proposal — or any pending ballot issue, for that matter — is heating up when a former governor steps into the fray. Republican Bill Owens, who served as Colorado’s chief exec until 2007, took to the airwaves and digital media this week with a video denouncing Question 301 on Broomfield’s November ballot.

In the video, Owens calls 301 “a deceiving measure” and a “cynical power play focused on blocking energy development.” The former two-term guv also assures viewers “Colorado already has the toughest oil and gas regulations in the U.S.”

The proposal would grant the combined city-county municipality “plenary authority to regulate all aspects of oil and gas development, including land use and all necessary police powers.” Plenary means absolute (we had to look it up), and there’s a problem with that: It’s a power that the state government contends local governments don’t have.

If it passes, the ballot measure probably would set Broomfield on a collision course with the state as the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled the state government, via the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, holds ultimate authority over oil and gas exploration.

That likely showdown prompted some residents to band together under the slogan, “Don’t let them divide Broomfield” in opposition to 301. They say they’re tired of their community serving as a jousting green over oil and gas politics.  In 2013, voters there OK’d a five-year drilling moratorium, but it was mooted by the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling. Earlier this year, voters turned back an attempt by anti-drilling resident-activists to recall a city council member perceived to be too soft on oil and gas exploration.

In siding with the No on 301 campaign, Owens — who before his time in elective office ran the Colorado Petroleum Association — appeals to war-weary Broomfielders in his video:

“National outside groups are trying to turn Broomfield into a political battleground over oil and gas development — again,” he says as the video opens. “Well enough is enough.”