The fight against hydraulic fracturing has recently ratcheted up. On November 5, one town in Ohio and three in Colorado, passed ballot measures designed to ban or temporarily halt hydraulic fracturing—the brief (3-5 day) phase, often referred to as “fracking”—that is essential to the advanced oil-and-gas extraction processes that have given America the lead in global energy production. A fourth Colorado town awaits a recount. Initial election results showed the moratorium in Broomfield, Co—failed by 13 votes. However, on November 13, after all the overseas, military, provisional and other outstanding ballots were counted, it had passed by 17 votes. A margin of less than 0.5 percent triggers an automatic recount—leaving the final outcome currently unknown. In Bowling Green and Youngstown, Ohio, the opposite happened. Similar proposed bans against fracking were defeated.
Of the four votes in Colorado, Tisha Schuller, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) calls the Boulder and Lafayette votes merely “symbolic,” and noted that “Lafayette's last new well permit was in the early 1990s and Boulder's last oil and gas well was plugged in 1999.”
However, Fort Collins, CO, is near the promising production of the Niobrara shale. The Fort Collins city council passed a resolution encouraging voters to reject the proposed moratorium. And, in Broomfield, the city council, in August, entered into a memorandum of understanding that would allow energy company Sovereign to drill 21 wells—as long as stringent standards are met. In these cities, these five-year bans will bite.