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Longmont appealing ruling against fracking ban

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LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — Longmont is pushing ahead in its legal battle to ban fracking and is inviting other cities to join an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

City councilors voted unanimously Tuesday night to appeal a state judge's ruling against its ban on hydraulic fracturing, The Times-Call (http://bit.ly/1wAn4rV) reported.

At issue is a ban passed by voters by about a 60-40 margin in 2012 which was challenged in court by state regulators and the oil and gas industry. In July, District Court Judge D.D. Mallard ruled that the ban was an "irreconcilable conflict" with state law and said changing that was up to either the Legislature or a different court.

"There's a need for clarity on the issue. That's why I am supporting this, and that's why I believe we should go all the way (to the Colorado Supreme Court)," Councilwoman Bonnie Finley said.

The state also challenged drilling regulations passed by the city in 2012 because they are stricter than the state's regulations. However, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently dropped the lawsuit as part of a compromise Gov. John Hickenlooper negotiated to keep drilling measures off November's ballot.

Mallard ruled that the city's fracking ban would remain during an appeal.

The attorney representing the city in the fracking case, Phillip Barber, told councilors it could take 2 to 5 years to reach a resolution in court, leaving the ban in place in the meantime.

However, he also warned councilors that appealing to the state appeals court and then state Supreme Court could cost between $75,000 and $150,000. A trial at the Colorado Supreme Court could cost more than $250,000, he said.

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Information from: Daily Times-Call, http://timescall.com/

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