COLORADO

Youth plaintiffs Aerielle, Xiuhtezcatl, Itzcuauhtli, Emma, and Trinity, surrounded by Our Children's Trust staff attorney Nate Bellinger and executive director Julia Olson, following February 21, 2017 oral arguments before Colorado Court of Appeals. (Photo: Diana Bray)

Youth plaintiffs Aerielle, Xiuhtezcatl, Itzcuauhtli, Emma, and Trinity, surrounded by Our Children's Trust staff attorney Nate Bellinger and executive director Julia Olson, following February 21, 2017 oral arguments before Colorado Court of Appeals. (Photo: Diana Bray)

LATEST UPDATES

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.

Plaintiffs' opposition brief to petitions for certBoulder County AmicusOur Health, Our Future, Our Longmont; Sierra Club; Earthworks; and Food & Water Watch Amicus; 350 Colorado Amicus.

Petition for cert filed by COGCC; Petition for cert filed by API.

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 the 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.”

Read the full press release.
Read the Notice of Appeal here.

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.

Read the Court's order here.

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

Read the press release, the opening brief, and the amicus brief.

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.

Read the decision here.

Read the press release here.

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.

May 2013

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.  

July 2011

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.