Local opposition to fracking gains momentum in Colorado

July 18, 2014

Municipal control over energy policy could make hydraulic fracturing a risky investment in Colorado, Ford School professor Barry Rabe tells the Christian Science Monitor in a July 17 article by Jared Gilmour, titled "In US energy boom, who decides if fracking comes to town?" A legislative compromise in Colorado would have prevented municipal bans on the drilling technique, while also giving municipalities more power to determine fracking policy. However, the compromise collapsed this week after Governor John Hickenlooper failed to gain necessary Republican support.

The lack of an agreement has raised fears in the oil and gas industry that fracking policy in Colorado may become a maze of local bans that would make stable investment impossible. This is part of a growing trend of local antagonism to fracking. Several Colorado towns have already prohibited fracking, and ballot initiatives have proposed further restrictions at the municipal level. Local opposition to fracking is not restricted to Colorado, however. Rabe notes that "[t]his is even popping up in North Dakota," a state whose energy boom in the last decade has been largely driven by fracking. "Local communities are facing all kinds of strain and infrastructure problems."

Barry Rabe is the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy and the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Environmental Policy at the Ford School. He is also the director of the Ford School's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, and a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution.