Fracking in Boulder County: A timeline

  • In 2012, Longmont residents passed a ban on hydraulic fracturing within the city limits.


  • In 2013, Lafayette residents passed a community bill of rights recognizing peoples' rights to clean air, pure water, and a renewable energy future and banning oil and gas drilling as a violation of those rights.


  • In 2013, Broomfield residents passed a moratorium on fracking.


  • In 2013, Fort Collins residents passed a moratorium on fracking.


  • In 2013, the Boulder County Commissioners passed a 5-year fracking moratorium.

  • Longmont, Lafayette, Fort Collins and Broomfield were all sued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA).  

  • The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund offered pro bono legal defense to defend the Lafayette Community Bill Of Rights using a rights-based argument.  The city declined.  Knowing that Lafayette would prepare a predictable defense, only focused on state preemption, EBCU filed a motion to intervene in the case based on the fact that EBCU wrote, sponsored, promoted and successfully passed the bill of rights.  The city of Lafayette joined with COGA to prevent EBCU from being an intervenor.

  • The courts ruled in COGA's favor in all the court cases.  Longmont and Fort Collins appealed the lower court rulings to the Colorado Supreme Court, which also ruled in favor of COGA. Lafayette declined to appeal the ruling.  The state and the courts tell us that local fracking bans are illegal and that local communities have no rights; the industry, backed by state power, is in charge. Our communities are under siege from a structure of law that bestows greater rights on corporations than on the communities in which they operate.


  • Twice, in 2014 and 2016, the Colorado Community Rights Network attempted to get a state constitutional amendment on the ballot - an amendment that would enforce the right of local community self-government; allow the adoption of local laws protecting residents' health, safety and welfare; and allow communities to define, alter, or eliminate competing rights, powers, and privileges of corporations and other business entities operating or seeking to operate in the community.


  • In 2014, U.S Representative Jared Polis funded two local-control state ballot initiatives. After obtaining sufficient petition signatures to put both on the ballot, Polis pulled both at the 11th hour in a bait-and-switch bargain with Gov. Hickenlooper. He killed a vote on the local control initiatives in favor of an oil and gas task force composed of Democratic party insiders and industry reps. The task force accomplished nothing except for ensuring that the oil and gas industry retained its free reign over local communities.

  • In 2016, the oil and gas industry and Colorado "business leaders" proposed Amendment 71 to constrain-e.g. , effectively eliminate citizen initiated constitutional amendments. The oil and gas industry funded the amendment's deceptive ad campaign, and the amendment passed. The industry again protected itself and its profits from local democracy.

  • In 2017, The Boulder County Commissioners voluntarily ended the moratorium on fracking and on May 1, began accepting permits for fracking in unincorporated Boulder County.

Boulder County, like neighboring Weld, sits atop an oil rich field that is considered a vast potential profit for the oil and gas industry. As with other areas of the state, Boulder County was issuing drilling permits and participated in the same misleading that drilling could be, “Safely regulated”, as the rest of the state and representatives in both political parties for many years.

And like other areas of Colorado and nationally, Boulder County rests in a legal position that renders the health of people, the environment, and the basic rights of its community members subservient to industry and corporate driven legal power.  If Boulder County is to be spared the destructive and lethal industrialization of the oil and gas industry, the laws that subordinate us have to be broken, and new laws protecting our rights and the health of the environment need to be written and adopted.

As with other times in history, there are hurdles to overcome.


  1. The local and state politicians have assisted and given cover to oil and gas drilling for over a decade, and are loyal to both their Party leaders and the industry

  2. The system of law that mandates the destruction of Boulder County isn’t broken, it’s actually fixed, or working exactly as it was designed

  3. The Boulder County Commissioners occupy the role of demobilizing the population, while at the same time collaborating with industry to bring drilling into the County. Their priority is to remain obedient with the law at the expense of the health and rights of the community.


All of this means we occupy a similar position to prior movements in history - A political system that guarantees harms to the many in order to benefit the few.  In order to overcome this, we will have to rise to the strategies and courage of those past movements.

Fracking in Boulder County: A Timeline