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Colorado City Sued by Oil Industry Group for Fracking Ban

Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The Colorado Oil & Gas Association sued the city of Longmont to overturn a voter-approved ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract oil and gas from sand and shale formations.

The industry group, in a complaint filed yesterday in state court in Greeley, Colorado, claims the resolution deprives land owners of property-development rights and conflicts with state law allowing the practice.

“The hydraulic fracturing ban in Longmont effectively stops oil and gas development,” COGA President Tisha Schuller said in a statement yesterday announcing the filing. “There is clear legal precedent in Colorado that the ban is illegal and we expect it to be overturned by the courts.”

The group provided a copy of the complaint to Bloomberg News and the court’s clerk confirmed that it was filed.

Rigo Leal, the city’s public information officer, said in a phone interview today that the municipality doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

‘Whatever It Takes’

“The city council is on record as being committed to defending this lawsuit, whatever it takes,” he said.

Longmont voters approved the resolution on Nov. 6. The city, with a population of 86,270, according to 2010 U.S. Census figures, is about 37 miles (59 kilometers) north of Denver.

Its oil and gas minerals are valued at $500 million, according to Denver-based COGA. Because the city owns 90 percent of the mineral rights within its boundaries, its taxpayers are losing access to an estimated $90 million in potential royalties, the group claimed.

The case is Colorado Oil & Gas Association v. City of Longmont, 2012-cv-960, Weld County, Colorado, District Court (Greeley).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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