On April 16, 2019 Colorado Governor Polis signed SB 19-181, a bill which states that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) must protect public health and the environment from oil and gas development.
To ensure that SB 19-181 is properly implemented, Colorado youth will be filing a petition for rulemaking calling on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to enact new, science-based, rules that are consistent with protecting Coloradan’s public health, safety, and welfare from oil and gas development and climate change.
If you are a young Coloradan and would like to add your name to the petition, complete the form below.
April 16, 2019
Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed SB 19-181, a bill “concerning additional welfare protections regarding the conduct of oil and gas operations,” making important amendments to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act (Act). Among other important changes to the Act, SB 19-181 makes clear that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) must protect public health and the environment from oil and gas development; clarifies that the nonproduction of oil and gas does not constitute “waste;” eliminates the requirement that protections for public health and the environment take into consideration cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility; and gives more control over oil and gas operations to local governments. These amendments vindicate the legal arguments Colorado youth have been making in the Colorado courts for the past five years in Martinez v. COGCC.
January 24, 2019
Attorneys for seven youth in Martinez v. COGCC, the high profile anti-fracking case against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission filed an extraordinary motion with the Colorado Supreme Court asking the Court to vacate several judicial decisions based upon the misconduct of a judge who reviewed the youth’s case. Read the motion here.
Read plaintiff Xiuhtezcatl Martinez’s declaration here.
Read Chief Legal Counsel for Plaintiffs Julia Olson’s declaration here.
January 14, 2019
The Colorado Supreme Court reversed the Colorado Court of Appeals decision in Martinez v. COGCC and found, contrary to the arguments of the Commission and the youth, that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission cannot condition oil and gas development on protecting public health, safety, and welfare and the environment. Justice Gabriel, in a unanimous decision, acknowledged the civic engagement and concerns of the youth plaintiffs’ and even found that their interpretation of the Act, which would have required the Commission to prioritize public health over oil and gas development, was reasonable. However, the Court ultimately rejected plaintiffs’ reasonable interpretation of the Act, determined that the Act was ambiguous, and held that the Commission did not have authority to promulgate a rule protecting public health if it precluded new oil and gas development. Read the decision here.
October 16, 2018
The Colorado Supreme Court heard oral arguments from attorneys for Youth Plaintiffs and the State in the oil and gas case Martinez v. the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Youth Plaintiffs are asking the Colorado Supreme Court to affirm the important victory they secured at the Colorado Court of Appeals on March 23, 2017, and hold that the Commission has an obligation to protect public health, safety, and welfare from oil and gas development and operations.
May 25, 2018
Today, seven youth plaintiffs filed their Answer Brief to the Colorado Supreme Court in Martinez v. COGCC, their lawsuit against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and intervenors, the American Petroleum Association and the Colorado Petroleum Association. In their brief, youth plaintiffs ask the Colorado Supreme Court to affirm the important victory they secured at the Court of Appeals on March 23, 2017, and hold that the Commission has an obligation to protect public health, safety, and welfare from oil and gas development and operations.
Along with the plaintiffs’ brief, powerful voices of support for Martinez v. COGCC filed amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs with the Colorado Supreme Court. These amicus briefs* display resounding legal support for affirming the Court of Appeals decision:
*We will continue to upload the amicus briefs as they are filed throughout the day.
Read the full press release here.
January 29, 2018
Today, the Colorado Supreme Court granted Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s petition for writ of certiorari of Martinez v. COGCC. Coffman filed the petition in May of last year, asking the Supreme Court to review the 2-1 March 23, 2017 decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of the youth and declared that oil and gas development in Colorado is subject to the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, and the environment.
June 29, 2017
On June 29, 2017, attorneys representing youth plaintiffs filed their opposition brief to the petitions for cert filed May 15, 2017 by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and API. Also filed today were three amicus briefs in support of youth plaintiffs.
March 23, 2017
In Youth V. Colorado Oil & Gas, API - Youth Win!
Today in a 2-1 decision, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's order denying a youth-brought rule-making petition against fracking, and a lower court's order upholding that denial. The Court remanded the case to the district court and the Commission, finding that the Commission erred in its interpretation of Colorado law. Here's the opinion of the Colorado Court of Appeals, and our press release. You can see media coverage here.
February 21, 2017
Colorado Court of Appeals Hearing
Today, OCT Executive Director Julia Olson appeared before the Colorado Court of Appeals, on behalf of the six youth plaintiff-appellants (all members of a local Earth Guardians crew). Olson argued that the Colorado Oil & Gas Commission has a statutory and constitutional obligation to prioritize the protection of the environment and public health over oil and gas development. The Colorado anti-fracking community and other members of the public turned out in force, filling the courtroom and an overflow room. Judges Fox, Vogt and Booras presided over the hearing. You can watch the hearing in the below video.
February 20, 2017
#YouthvGov March Fills Streets of Denver
More than 300 people from a variety of supporting organizations and communities across the state of Colorado came out for a spirited rally and march in support of our youth plaintiffs. Attendees heard from plaintiffs Aerielle Deering and Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, State Representative Joe Salazar, Our Children’s Trust Staff Attorney Nate Bellinger, Colorado American Indian Movement activist Sky Roosevelt Morris, among others. Tomorrow, the Colorado Court of Appeals will hear oral argument in the youth plaintiff-appellants' appeal of the lower court's decision to uphold the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's order denying a youth-brought rule-making petition against fracking. You can watch the livestream of the action here, and see photographs in the Denver Post.
August 18, 2016
Colorado Communities Back Youths' Critical Fracking Lawsuit
On August 18th, 2016, six youth plaintiffs, filed their opening brief to the Colorado Court of Appeals in their fracking and climate change lawsuit. They are arguing that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has a statutory and constitutional obligation to prioritize protection of public health and the environment over oil and gas development, which the Commission is failing to do. Two amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs were also filed to the Colorado Court of Appeals in support of the youth. One brief highlighting the growing evidence of public health and environmental threats posed by fracking and the climate emergency was filed on behalf of business interests, faith communities, medical professional and other citizens of Colorado. The second brief highlights how the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission wields its power over oil and gas development statewide contrary to the intent of the General Assembly and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act. It was filed by environmental organizations across the state.
Read the opening brief, the amicus brief highlighting evidence of public health threats posed by fracking, the amicus brief detailing how the COGCC wields its power over oil and gas development, and our press release.
April 4, 2016
Six youth plaintiffs appealed Denver District Court Judge Eric Elliff’s decision denying their fracking and climate change lawsuit.
In his decision, Judge Elliff affirmed the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s order to deny the fracking petition brought by the young plaintiffs, determining that instead of prioritizing public health, that the Commission is required to “strike a balance between the regulation of oil and gas operations and protecting public health, the environment, and wildlife resources.”
“Our health and safety are on the line,” said Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, 15-year-old plaintiff and youth director of Earth Guardians. “For the future of all Coloradans, it was imperative for us to file this appeal. It’s a preposterous idea that the Commission need to strike a balance between regulation of oil and gas operations and protecting the health of Coloradans. The Commission’s priority should be the health and safety of us, the people. Right now, our government is putting their profits above our futures and that needs to stop.”
February 19, 2016
Denver District Court Judge J. Eric Elliff affirmed Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s (COGCC) order to deny the fracking petition brought by seven young plaintiffs, stating that the Commission is required to “strike a balance between the regulation of oil and gas operations and protecting public health, the environment, and wildlife resources.” Judge Elliff is not the judge who was originally assigned the case and who denied the COGCC’s earlier motion to dismiss the case.
April 7, 2015
Plaintiffs filed their opening brief in their fracking case, Martinez et al., v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, to the Denver District Court. Last December, the Denver District Court rejected the Commission’s arguments to dismiss the case and ordered that the case proceed on the merits. The court will now determine whether the Commission has a legal responsibility and obligation to protect the health and safety of Colorado’s residents and preserve Colorado’s air, water, wildlife, and land from harm due to oil and gas operations, including fracking.
The youth have received support throughout Colorado and on Tuesday, organizations, individuals, and the science and faith community in Colorado filed an amicus curiae brief, in support of their lawsuit. Amici include: Kids Against Fracking; Protect Our Loveland; Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont; Boulder County Citizens for Community Rights; 350 Colorado (Micah Parkin); Frack Free Colorado; Food & Water Watch; Be the Change; Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility; Eco Elders; Eco-Justice Ministries; Casey Sheehan; Rick Heede; Dr. John Hughes; Simón Mostafa; Karen Dike, and Robert Winkler
December 24, 2014
A Denver District Court ruled in favor of youth plaintiffs in their case against the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for not protecting the air, water, land and wildlife of Colorado from dangerous fracking.
The court rejected the Commission’s arguments that the case should be dismissed and ordered that the case proceed on the merits. Early next year the court will determine whether the Commission has a legal responsibility and obligation to protect the health and safety of Colorado’s residents and preserve Colorado’s air, water, wildlife, and land from harm due to oil and gas operations.
November 14, 2014
The Denver District Court heard oral argument on Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's Motion to Dismiss a complaint filed by youth plaintiffs appealing the denial of their petition for rulemaking. The petition asked the agency to adopt a rule suspending the issuance of permits that allow oil and gas drilling until it is proven that drilling can be conducted without adversely impacting human health and safety and without impairing Colorado’s atmospheric resources and climate system, water, soil, wildlife, and other biological resources.
July 3, 2014
With the support of the legal team at OUR CHILDREN’S TRUST, seven young people filed an appeal to the Denver District Court to overturn a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission decision that denied the youth's petition to more strongly regulate hydraulic fracturing.
The plaintiffs' complaint alleges that the Commission erred as a matter of law in concluding that it lacked the authority to promulgate the proposed rule.
Read the full press release here.
May 29, 2014
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued a written decision denying the anti-fracking petition young people hand-delivered to the Commission last November.
Read the full press release here.
April 18, 2014
Check out the Media Advisory on the Colorado youths' upcoming hearing before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
November 15, 2013
Colorado youth hand-delivered a petition for rulemaking to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Colorado Department of Natural Resources. The petition was signed by eight youth activists who are members of the Boulder-based organization Earth Guardians. The youth gathered for a rally at the State Capitol and then marched to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to hand deliver their petition. The youth petitioned the Commission and Department to promulgate a rule to suspend the issuance of permits that allow hydraulic fracturing until it can be done without adversely impacting human health and safety and without impairing Colorado’s atmospheric resource and climate system, water, soil, wildlife, and other biological resources. Read the press release here.
13-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez continues to amaze us. When his fracking presentation to fellow students sparked a furor among parts of his community, he faced threats of censorship and bullying by adults.
The Mountain States Legal Foundation filed a motion to intervene in order to join with the defendants; however, to expedite the litigation for immediate relief and regulation of carbon emissions, the Colorado legal team has filed opposition. The legal team will also be filing opposition to the State of Colorado's motion to dismiss, with a date for the hearing not yet set.
May 4, 2011
OCT partner attorneys at Wild Earth Guardians, Ashley Wilmes and Jay Touchton, filed a lawsuit against the State of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission and the ColoradoDepartment of Natural Resources.