DENVER — The petroleum industry’s defenders and critics are testing the limits of a new Colorado law that flips the state’s priorities from producing energy to protecting the public.
Officials in energy-friendly Weld County say the law gives the county complete control over the location of new wells in unincorporated areas. That could challenge the state’s attempts to tighten regulations.
Just across the county line in Longmont, environmental activists are trying to use the same statute to revive the city’s ban on hydraulic fracturing, which the courts threw out under the previous laws. Because fracking is standard practice in the area, the ban would essentially prohibit all drilling.
Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law on April 16. In addition to switching the state’s top priority to public health and the environment, it gives cities and counties new powers to regulate the drilling locations.