Lafayette mayor pro tem tables vote on anti-fracking proposal at city council

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – The city of Lafayette debated Tuesday night on whether it should, and how it would, limit the possibility of fracking within city limits.

At a city council meeting Tuesday night, the mayor pro tem tabled a possible vote on the subject until the council’s next meeting because several council members were missing.

But under discussion was a so-called “climate bill of rights” that would not ban fracking outright, but instead give community members a right to keep their environment clean and the power to enforce it – something that, if passed, could set a similar precedent for other Colorado cities.

Lafayette resident Kristin McLean says she’s tired of having no control over what happens in her community when it comes to oil and gas.

“We don’t want fracking wells,” she said. “We have a right to a healthy climate. We have a right to healthy air, water and land.”

Cliff Willmeng, with East Boulder County United, helped write the anti-fracking ordinance under council consideration.

“We are arguing from the standpoint that people have the right to defend their environment,” he said.

Others say the proposed ordinance would have no standing in law. Among those testifying against it Tuesday, some called it “vaguely unconstitutional;” others said the ordinance conflicts with state law, and Jonathan Sawyer, a radio supplier in Lafayette, says the ordinance would lead to a “war.”

The proposal would not be a ban – it would allow people against oil and gas development in the city to enforce their climate decisions through non-violent protest and that they wouldn’t be subject to arrest.

Voters in Lafayette had previously passed an anti-fracking ban, which was overturned in Boulder District Court.

Activists say they feel the new proposal is their only option to take back control of their community.

“We love this town and we don’t want to see it turn into an oil and gas field,” Willmeng said. “We don’t feel like we are obligated to watch this happen.”

Should the measure pass, the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission could sue the town to have it overturned. But activists say they already have a lawyer who is willing to take the case on at no cost to taxpayers.

City council will reconsider the bill during its next meeting. 

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