Nov 28, 2012 12:48 AM by Eric Ross

Oil fracking war heats up in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS- Controversy continues over oil and gas fracking.

After 3 hours of debate at city hall, council members voted 6-3 to move forward with plans allowing companies to buy city land and drill for oil and natural gas through a technique called fracking.

The process involves using water, sand and chemicals to extract both oil and gas from the ground.

It's an issue that's attracted the attention of both supporters and opponents.

Tuesday afternoon, about a dozen protestors positioned themselves outside city hall in an attempt to sway council members to vote against fracking.

In the end, all council members except Val Snider, Jan Martin, and Council President Scott Hente voted in favor of opening up our city to the booming industry.

31 residents also signed up to speak at Tuesday's council meeting.

The debate started around 4:30 p.m., beginning with a presentation from Kyle Campbell, the interim director of planning for the City.

A preliminary vote came in just after 7:30 p.m.

"Obviously there's an economic benefit," Campbell said. "Based upon some of the underutilized property in the eastern part of the city and outward toward El Paso County, in my opinion, this would be the best use for that property in the interim until it's ultimately developed."

Opponents say the City may be setting itself up for future problems with water resources and air quality.

"It (the process) consumes a lot of water and we mix a lot of toxic chemicals with it to do fracking," resident Dave Gardner said. "Water is a scarce resource here in the west."

Some homeowners also expressed concerns for their property values and don't want to see drilling near their homes.

Right now, two Houston-based companies, Ultra and Hilcorp Energy, have expressed interest in fracking within Colorado Springs.

While it's allowed in El Paso County, it's currently illegal to do so inside city limits.

A final vote will take place next month.

At that time, a discussion on whether any changes in air quality and water testing regulations need to be made is expected to be discussed.

If the city were to not allow companies to drill, they could potentially be sued by the state.

The state of Colorado argues all regulations are to be made by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Three weeks ago, the city of Longmont voted to ban fracking over safety and health concerns.

The state has since filed a notice of intent to sue Longmont, saying local governments can't set their own drilling rules.



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