Colorado Supreme Court hears high-stakes oil and gas lawsuit

Oil and gas drilling

DENVER — The Colorado Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a high-stakes lawsuit over how much weight the state should give public health and the environment when regulating the oil and gas industry.

The court scheduled a hearing Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by six young people. They want the state to require that energy companies show they won’t harm people or the environment before drilling.

Regulators says they don’t have that authority. They say state law requires them to balance those protections against responsible oil and gas production.

A ruling in favor of the young plaintiffs could significantly change Colorado’s battle over the proliferation of hydraulic fracturing wells near urban areas. Activists and local governments would gain new power to argue for safety measures, including restrictions on where wells can be drilled.

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