Oil and gas industry groups sue Thornton over strict drilling regulations

Lawsuit says rules conflict with Colorado law

DENVER -- Fresh from passing a series of tough oil and gas regulations this past summer, Thornton was sued by two industry groups this week on the grounds that the city’s new rules illegally conflict with state laws regarding energy extraction.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, in partnership with the American Petroleum Institute, filed the challenge in Adams County District Court on Tuesday.

The suit comes six weeks after Thornton City Council approved a set of rules that exceed what the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires of oil and gas firms, including the establishment of a 750-foot buffer between wells and homes and tougher-than-state-limits on abandoned flowlines.

Dan Haley, the president and CEO of COGA, said in a statement Wednesday that his organization submitted "multiple letters articulating serious legal concerns with Thornton’s proposed regulations, particularly regarding operational preemption.”

"Those concerns were ignored, making it necessary to challenge Thornton’s regulations in court," Haley said in the statement. 

A spokesman for the City of Thornton said the city has not yet been served with the complaint and had no comment Wednesday. 

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