Mountain States

Anti-Fracking Efforts Keep Crumbling, Divisions Open In Colorado Senate Race

It’s gone from bad to worse for one of Colorado’s leading “Keep It In The Ground” groups, with split opinions setting the stage for potentially awkward alliances between the state’s anti-fracking forces and Democratic U.S. Senate candidates. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

“Colorado’s anti-fracking movement has, well, fractured.”

Last week, Colorado Rising announced it was abandoning its campaign for new anti-oil and natural gas ballot initiatives this November after admitting it couldn’t gather enough qualifying signatures. Now, two former top officials who recently left the group have vowed to fight on with the help of a national activist group, which in turn has said their chances of success are slim.

The CPR story documents the dissention that has torn apart Colorado Rising and implies the two officials who left the group are not pleased with leadership giving up.

“Last week, Colorado Rising, the group behind a failed 2018 attempt to increase drilling setbacks, announced it would not collect signatures to put a similar plan on Colorado’s 2020 ballot. But the decision lacked support from activists Anne Lee Foster and Suzanne Spiegel. Because the pair are listed as the proponents for the initiative, they have the sole power to withdraw it from consideration for the ballot. They declined to do so even after Colorado Rising said it wouldn’t support signature collection.

“The pair is now building a new coalition to back the ballot plan. ‘There’s a dedicated group of Coloradans who have been working on this issue for years. They are not ready to give up the fight,’ Foster said.” (emphasis added)

CPR says that Foster and Spiegel have turned to the Colorado chapter of – one of the nation’s largest and most powerful KIITG groups – to keep pushing an initiative that was already rejected by voters just two years ago:

“After Colorado Rising backed out, Foster and Spiegel turned to 350 Colorado Action for help. The advocacy group also supported the 2018 setback initiative. Earlier this month, the board of directors unanimously voted to renew the petition effort and form an issue committee to pursue one of five potential setback initiatives. The activists had submitted a range of options to gauge which one could gain the greatest support from voters.

“Micah Parkin, a board member with 350 Colorado Action, said the new coalition plans to focus on what’s now called Initiative 174. The proposed measure would ban any new drilling within 2,500 feet of playgrounds, buildings, waterways or hazardous waste sites. The plan is nearly identical to Proposition 112, which failed two years ago. The main difference is the new version forbids drilling near Superfund sites, but not intermittent waterways. (emphasis added)

But the new effort is not off to a great start, with Parkin already forced to admit they face an uphill battle:

“Parkin admitted it will be a challenge to get the measure on the ballot. The coalition has until Aug. 3 to collect 124,632 valid signatures and submit them to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.”

Further complicating matters is the U.S. Senate race happening in Colorado where co-founder Bill McKibben has endorsed former State House Speaker and Green New Deal supporter Andrew Romanoff in the Democratic primary. But McKibben has already said his group will endorse the frontrunner, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, if he wins the primary.

Since Hickenlooper’s successor, Gov. Jared Polis, has already opposed new ballot measures, it will likely force Hickenlooper to do the same as he stood against Prop 112 in 2018. All of which makes for awkward conversations since Hickenlooper will receive an endorsement from an activist group while opposing the same group’s ballot measure.

As Colorado Public Radio put it: “fractured” is right.

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