Election Guide 2013: Yes on Lafayette Ballot Question 300


City of Lafayette Ballot Question No. 300
Gas and oil charter amendment

Vote Yes

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.

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.

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

View all of Boulder Weekly’s endorsements here.