Proposed ordinance sparks fracking debate in Lafayette

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LAFAYETTE, Colo. -- In a packed council chamber with standing-room only in the hallway, the city of Lafayette was front and center in the battle over fracking on Tuesday night.

A public meeting provided the first look at an ordinance introduced by citizens that would take a different approach to stop fracking.

East Boulder County United drafted the Climate Bill of Rights and Protections, which references a healthy climate, self-government and direct action enforcement that would allow nonviolent protests such as sit-ins.

“We’re making our own law and we’re governing ourselves,” East Boulder County United organizer Cliff Willmeng said. “Throughout these times in U.S. history, the laws did not change through moral arguments of the people. The laws changed when people refused to enforce them.”

Opponents of the proposed ordinance argue the bill would ultimately ban fracking in Lafayette, conflicting with state law.

“It shoots far and misses wide,” a Colorado Competitive Counsel (C3) spokesman said. “It sends a negative message not just to businesses in Lafayette but across the Front Range. It screams that Colorado is not a good place to do business or live.”

Lafayette voters had previously passed an anti-fracking measure, but that was struck down by a judge in 2013, saying local government cannot ban something allowed by the state.

The public hearing session lasted more than two hours. Those in favor of the ordinance made up the majority of the crowd.

“We don’t want to raise a child with pollution in the air, in our water, and in our backyard,” a resident said.

“What an amazing opportunity for the city of Lafayette to be trailblazers for Colorado,” a Boulder resident said. "And protect the individual rights we have to protect ourselves from this horrible industry.”

Those against the ordinance were in the minority of the crowd, but were not silenced.

“It is the consumer of oil and gas that is the problem here,” one man said. “And I suggest I especially suggest to people out here to focus on the consumer part."

“I cannot imagine that you as a council are willing to pass a bill that limits the constitutional rights of citizens,” a representative of the Colorado Farm Bureau said.

The council agreed to table the discussion for a later date, as three of the council members and the mayor were not in attendance.

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