The city of Erie is officially being sued by local pro-community health, safety, and environmental activists and residents.
[Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include a reply from Erie Mayor Jennifer Carroll.]
According to a press release posted online today and share with Yellow Scene, “Residents of Erie, Colo. have served the Town of Erie, the Town’s Mayor, Jennifer Carroll, and the Trustees in their official capacity, with a lawsuit demanding protections for public health and safety from drilling and hydraulic fracturing plans that were recently approved in the suburban Boulder County community.”
Continuing, “The suit alleges that the Erie Board of Trustees failed to exercise their power and duty under the Colorado Constitution to regulate and enforce protections of resident health and safety. It claims that the Board’s November 4th, 2018 approval of an Operator Agreement with Crestone Peak Resources is preempted by the state’s dominant interest that the development of oil and gas in Colorado is to be regulated subject to the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources, as set out by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act.”
In suing the city, Rachel Balkcom, a public school director and teacher, founding member of Erie Thriving, and impacted resident, says, “Our Board of Trustees believes they do not have the power to protect us. However, one of their primary constitutional powers is to create regulations necessary for the promotion and protection of residents’ health and well being. This is inarguably their moral duty as well. Because they have been convinced that they are powerless, we are challenging them to recognize the power and responsibility they do have. While a lawsuit may seem adversarial, it is actually in support of the entire town of Erie, including the Trustees.”
These are local residents who are fighting for their communities via the appropriate, legal channels. Contrary to some claims that “anti-oil and gas” activists are funded by or spurred on by out of state concerns, Erie Thriving is clear: “The nonprofit Erie Thriving is an organization of impacted residents that have joined together in the suit. Erie Thriving is a subsidiary of Residents Rights. The lawsuit that Erie Thriving has brought against the Town of Erie is a separate and distinctly different lawsuit from that filed by Residents Rights against Broomfield’s City Manager and City Officials.
Previous reporting on the issue of “sticks and carrots” that the Erie Board of Trustees used to hammer out the operator agreement at the center of the litigation can be found here. The final presentation of OA updates, by the acting town administrator, at the meeting where the OA was passed can be found here. Finally, previous reporting about threats by oil and gas employees and contractors against local activists can be found here.
An email to the mayor for comment was returned with, “We the Board do not comment on any pending litigation. If staff has a comment I’ve included our acting Town Administrator ([Farrell Buller]. Thank you for understanding.”
Thefull news release is here:
The Legal Complaint is here: