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Court Upholds Imposing Fracking Ban in Colorado City

Photographer: Brennan Linsley/AP Photo

A hydraulic fracturing operation site outside Rifle, in western Colorado. Close

A hydraulic fracturing operation site outside Rifle, in western Colorado.

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Photographer: Brennan Linsley/AP Photo

A hydraulic fracturing operation site outside Rifle, in western Colorado.

Bloomberg BNA – A Colorado judge has approved the results of a November 2013 vote approving a five-year ban on hydraulic fracturing in Broomfield, Colo.

The Feb. 27 ruling by Colorado District Court Judge Chris Melonakis of the 17th Judicial District means Broomfield's five-year ban on fracking remains in effect, the city said in a statement.

Following a recount in which the initiative was deemed to have passed by 20 votes, opponents of the ban challenged the election results. An earlier court ruling had enjoined the city from enforcing the ban.

Melonakis held that, based upon the witness testimony and exhibits, “the election was remarkably transparent.”

“The City and County of Broomfield substantially complied with the election laws of the State of Colorado and… the election should not be set aside.”

Opponents Looking at Other Options

B.J. Nikkel, spokeswoman for the Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition, the lead group challenging the election results, said in a statement the decision means the group would “look at legal and other means of preserving election integrity and constitutional rights” in the city.

“Broomfield citizens have been left with a flawed election where election officials acknowledge mistakes they made in counting ballots, and where actual results were hidden behind a veil of secrecy,” Nikkel said.

Broomfield was one of four Colorado cities where voters in November 2013 approved bans on fracking, which involves high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to release natural gas and oil trapped in shale formations. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association later sued two of the cities, Lafayette and Fort Collins.

The initial results of the Broomfield election indicated the measure had passed by 17 votes, triggering an automatic recount. The recount determined the measure had been approved by 20 votes.

‘Rigorous Review’

After the court's ruling, Broomfield City and County Manager Charles Ozaki said the local government was pleased by the results and grateful for all who participated in the “rigorous review” of the election.

“Our review will continue, and I am confident that Broomfield's election procedures will be even stronger in the future,” he said.

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