DENVER — Colorado cities trying to set local rules for oil and gas drilling got mixed legal messages Thursday.
In Longmont, city officials learned that state regulators, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, would drop a lawsuit challenging the city's local drilling regulations.
But in Fort Collins, a judge sided with the oil and gas industry and determined that a local ban on the drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing violates state law. District Judge Gregory Lammons ruled that voters in Fort Collins overstepped their legal authority by banning fracking, which state law permits.
The COGCC, meanwhile, voted to drop a lawsuit against Longmont for enacting local regulations to limit oil and gas drilling beyond state regulations.
Meeting in Denver, the Commission voted to follow Gov. John Hickenlooper's promise that the state would drop the Longmont lawsuit as part of a deal to keep proposed oil and gas drilling proposals off November's ballot. However, the Commission left open the possibility of suing Longmont later.
The decision left Longmont officials unsatisfied. They wanted the Commission to rule out the possibility of reviving its lawsuit.
"We are not going to stop the fight that you started just to have rocks thrown at us another time," Mayor Pro-tem Brian Bagley told The (Longmont) Times-Call.
The legal developments came days after industry advocates and some fracking opponents agreed to abandon petitions seeking ballot measures related to drilling.