Mountain States

National ‘Ban Fracking’ Group Makes Local Gaffe in Boulder County

At a recent meeting of the Boulder County Commission, national “ban fracking” group Food & Water Watch admitted working behind the scenes to support local anti-energy campaigns in Colorado. Video: Longmont Times-Call

National “ban fracking” groups last week hosted a press conference that left little doubt of their commitment to shut down Colorado’s oil and gas industry. Held in advance of a Boulder County Commission hearing on extending the county’s ban on oil and gas development, activist organizations used the event to further press their national anti-energy agenda through Colorado’s local communities.

Speaking at the event, a spokeswoman with Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch recounted how the organization has been instrumental in local “ban fracking” campaigns along Colorado’s Front Range:

“We are here today because we have worked closely with communities to pass bans and moratoriums on fracking.”

This is a remarkable gaffe, given the previous attempts of national “ban fracking” organizations to hide behind so-called local activist organizations. According to the Colorado Statesman, Food & Water Watch is one of the “major players behind the anti-fracking movement” in Colorado. The group, which is actively campaigning for statewide, national and international bans on oil and gas development, even co-founded Frack Free Colorado, which helped set up local “ban fracking” campaigns across Northern Colorado. Later, these same organizations revamped their campaign under a new name, Local Control Colorado.

Through Local Control Colorado, the activists publicly insisted “[t]his isn’t about banning fracking,” but were later caught on tape saying just the opposite, according to Complete Colorado. The newsroom of the Colorado Statesman wasn’t fooled either, reporting that Food & Water Watch has “played a key role in supporting initiatives to ban or delay fracking in local communities” in Colorado and is one of the “major players behind the anti-fracking movement” in our state.

At last week’s press conference, Food & Water Watch was joined by a representative of San Francisco-based Sierra Club. This is yet another national organization, and it is lobbying the oil and gas task force to endorse a “compromise” measure that would ban almost two-thirds of drilling activity in Colorado. As the oil and gas task force prepares for their third meeting this week in Loveland, these national organizations appear to be ramping up the pressure after strong showings of support for the industry at task force meetings in Denver and Durango earlier this year.

The pressure from these groups comes on top of the lobbying from millionaire Boulder Congressman Jared Polis, who was pushing two anti-energy measures for the November 2014 ballot. The agreement that pulled down those ballot measures also created the oil and gas task force. Yet the group financed by the Congressman, Safe Clean Colorado, continues to push the same talking points from its failed campaign, i.e. “Current laws allow fracking anytime, anywhere in Colorado.” Denver Post editorial page editor Vincent Carroll calls this “a lie in so many ways that it’s hard to know where to start.”

As we have seen before, the activist groups are cloaking their statewide and national anti-energy agenda in the rhetoric of “local control,” despite the fact that the Colorado Municipal League has consistently defended the effectiveness of the existing regulatory framework for local governments, state regulators and the oil and gas industry. As CML General Counsel Geoff Wilson told the Denver Post months before the task force was even formed:

“The idea that there is this seething cauldron of conflict between the industry and local governments, I just don’t buy it. Yes, you can find examples where things aren’t working out, and to me that’s just the noise of local government in operation … I think we’re doing better than we ever have.”

The facts are clear. The only question is whether the task force will be misled by activist organizations in their attempt to shutter an industry that is growing Colorado’s economy and creating jobs and opportunity for much of the state.


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