City of Lafayette Ballot Question No. 300
Gas and oil charter amendment
Question 300 is sometimes lumped in with the other “fracking bans” on the ballot up and down the Front Range in this year’s election, but it is distinctive in that it goes way beyond hydraulic fracturing, or even oil and gas exploration as a whole. Patterned in part after the “rights of nature” model espoused by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, in which the ecosystem is treated not as property but as having rights of its own, Question 300 would add a new Community Bill of Rights and Obligations to the city’s home-rule charter. The bill would limit corporations, “or persons using corporations,” to existing wells when extracting oil and gas within city limits, and would keep them from depositing, storing or transporting any oil/gas “water, brine, chemical or by-products” in Lafayette. It would also rule out the use of water from sources within the city for oil and gas operations. A prohibition in the bill against the installation of oil/gas infrastructure such as pipelines prompted one Colorado Oil and Gas Association official to resort to scare tactics like suggesting the bill might prohibit homes from receiving gas through pipes. But activist Cliff Willmeng of East Boulder County United calls that “a red herring” and maintains that the phrase “related to the extraction of gas and oil” attached to the prohibition clearly means it applies only to the process of pulling the natural resources out of the ground, not transporting them to houses.
The bill goes even further, tackling the corporate personhood issue by keeping corporations found guilty of extracting oil and gas within city limits from using “personhood” rights or the commerce and contracts clauses in the U.S. and state constitutions to protect themselves. Finally, the bill holds people and corporations engaging in oil/gas extraction activities outside city limits liable for any damages caused within Lafayette.
Yes, it’s pretty broad, and the city may well get sued over the language, since it goes further than Longmont’s lawsuit-embroiled ban. But we’re endorsing Question 300 on principle, the principle that a community should have the right to exert local control when it comes to keeping corporations and misguided governors from compromising public health and safety.
View all of Boulder Weekly's endorsements here.