Citizens of Lafayette, Colo., have filed a class action lawsuit against the State of Colorado, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and Governor John Hickenlooper requesting immediate enforcement of Lafayette's Community Rights Charter Amendment to ban fracking.
In November 2013, 60 percent of Lafayette voters approved the Community Rights Amendment, which allows citizens to prohibit harmful activities, such as fracking. Following the passage of the Lafayette Community Rights Amendment, COGA sued the City of Lafayette, claiming that the state's Oil and Gas Act trumps the people’s right to protect themselves from oil and gas activities.
East Boulder County United, the organization that wrote and successfully campaigned for Lafayette's Community Rights Charter Amendment, attempted to join the class action suit, but the court refused to let them participate, saying the group’s arguments about people’s fundamental rights to protect their communities would “expand the scope” of the case.
Effort to Expand Community Rights State-Wide
A plaintiff in the case, Cliff Willmeng, is a registered nurse currently working to pass Ballot Initiative No. 75, which would expand similar power to communities statewide to ban harmful corporate activities within their borders.
“This suit enforces Lafayette residents’ fundamental rights, which are being directly threatened by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association,” said Willmeng, a father of two.
“We had to take action to protect this community, its families and property, and we will continue to assert our rights to health, safety and welfare. These fundamental rights are not subordinate to corporate privilege, and they are not the property of the Governor or the State of Colorado to either give away or to overrule.”
The Lafayette citizens' class action suit comes on the heels of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to give the green light to Ballot Initiative No. 75 for signature gathering. According to initiative proponents, Initiative No. 75 will clarify that Colorado's local jurisdictions have the authority to protect citizens' health, safety and welfare from corporate interference.
Proponents of Initiative No. 75 are working to gather more than 86,000 signatures to ensure the initiative’s placement on the November ballot.