Lafayette Community to Reject Council Legalization of Local Oil and Gas Drilling
PRESS ADVISORY: Lafayette Community to Reject Council Legalization of Local Oil and Gas Drilling
Lafayette community members and supporters will be on hand at the June 19 City Council meeting to reject the Council’s effort to legalize oil and gas drilling in municipal limits. The city’s proposed oil and gas regulations, scheduled for a first vote on that date, include provisions for the flaring of volatile organic compounds, construction of oil and gas infrastructure such as pipelines, and preparation of evacuation routes in the event of drilling-related disasters such as “well integrity problems; explosions; fires; gas, oil or water pipeline leaks or ruptures; hydrogen sulfide or other toxic gas emissions; or hazardous material vehicle accidents or spills.”
Community members consider the regulations deeply irresponsible and a politicized effort to accommodate drilling at the expense of public health, the local environment, the global climate, and the fundamental rights of people living in Lafayette. Knowing the risks of oil and gas extraction and allowing it anyway constitutes reckless disregard for Lafayette’s families and children.
“Our elected local officials have refused to listen to us even though we have repeatedly demanded, and our town has voted for, an outright ban on fracking. The Lafayette Council majority has refused to defend the fundamental rights of Lafayette community members that people have repeatedly articulated. Regulations will do nothing to protect us. We are being betrayed by politically-motivated bureaucrats. We will now stand ourselves, as a people, and refuse to be drilled.”
- Brooke Dryden, mother, Lafayette resident
Lafayette drilling regulations were written by Hickenlooper-trusted attorney Jeffery Robbins; he completed the same regulations for Boulder County. The regulations act as legal guidelines for the massive industrialization of Boulder County. The County’s Land Use Department predicts more than 1800 new oil and gas wells.
As a result of powerful grassroots efforts resulting in the passage of two bans on fossil fuel extraction within a 5-year period, Lafayette community members are at the forefront in Colorado in protecting public health, the local environment, and the fundamental rights of residents. Both the Council majority and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association continue to oppose these grassroots efforts and to promote a false version of 2015’s Colorado Supreme Court decision that relied on superficial legal arguments and prevented community organizations from making rights-based arguments. Community members are continuing to challenge the fossil fuel industry and politicians’ attempts to maneuver drilling into Boulder County.
“It is time for a Front Range municipality to finally stand up and say NO MORE to the legal poisoning of our communities and the cooking of our planet. Lafayette, where over 60% of voters passed a fracking ban in 2013 and the City Council passed another in 2017, must lead the way on full-stop resistance. Many dedicated activists across the Front Range have spent years appealing to the State, encouraged by local electeds who claim local councils can do nothing to stop fracking. These appeals have failed outright. Now is the time for city governments to unite with the people and refuse all future permits. Our community has a fundamental right to clean air, and it is the duty of our local government to protect that right. Legal change at the state level will be accomplished through direct, local disobedience to unjust laws.”
- Theresa Stets, candidate, House District 12
The entire voting process on the regulations is itself in question. The effort’s leader, Mayor Christine Berg, is employed by the Environment Defense Fund, an environmental front group that claims methane is an important fuel source being made safe by “reducing harmful impacts.” Through EDF Berg promotes pro-drilling politicians such as Colorado Senator Michael Bennett, a spokesperson for oil and gas and promoter of the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal in Oregon. Absent from the meeting will be Councilor Jaime Harkins, an ally of Jared Polis and an endorser of CD 2 candidate Joe Neguse, himself currently accepting money from lawyer and partners of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, Schreck which represented COGA against Lafayette, Fort Collins, and Longmont (Berg is an endorser too). Councilor Gustavo Reyna, who dismantled a key component of the Lafayette Climate Bill of Rights in 2017, will be voting on the city’s drilling policy and the level of benzene others’ children can breathe just prior to moving his family off the shale and leaving the state of Colorado entirely.
“When local officials cannot bring themselves to step up to their political parties and the oil and gas industry, they have lost the moral authority to hold a position of public trust and should resign. There are no single items more important than the physical safety of Lafayette people and their fundamental rights. The Council has decided that both are of secondary importance. The public is right to compel them to stop their misplaced effort to broker the destruction of our town.”
- Merrily Mazza, Lafayette City Councilor
The demands of community members on the Lafayette Council remain the following:
End the scientifically misleading claims that drilling regulations are designed for the protection of people and the environment.
Restore the full Lafayette Climate Bill of Rights and reject the politicized attempts to bring drilling into Lafayette
Join with community members to enforce our fundamental right to a healthy climate, enforce the Climate Bill of Rights and accept legal council to defeat the Colorado Oil and Gas Act as an unconstitutional infringement upon these rights.