Ohio Roadshow Adds to Boulder Anti-fracking Activists’ Long List of PR Fails
Boulder anti-fracking activists have had an incredible year so far when it comes to public relation fails. Whether it’s protesting the wrong house, holding a tone-deaf “Die-In” protest, or passing a stripped down “Climate Bill of Rights,” Boulder fracktivists clearly live by the mantra, “bad PR is good PR, right?” Par for the course, Lafayette City Council member Merrily Mazza skipped a city council meeting last week in favor of taking a 3,281-mile round trip to Ohio for a speaking tour touting her “success” in Colorado.
What was Mazza talking about in Ohio that kept her from her work in Lafayette? As our EID team in Ohio discovered, she was actually touting the passage of Lafayette’s “Climate Bill of Rights.” Ironically, both Mazza and her son Cliff Willmeng were not exactly thrilled about the measure that actually passed, calling it “toothless.”
As the Boulder Daily Camera reported after the city council stripped down the original “Climate Bill of Rights” proposal:
“The vote’s effect has resulted in a rare agreement of displeasure from both anti-fracking activists and the Colorado oil and gas industry. As it stands today, the bill has essentially become nothing more than a symbolic gesture void of any legal leverage to enforce, Councilwoman Merrily Mazza, who helped champion the proposal and was the sole member to vote for the original ordinance, said Wednesday morning. ‘It’s a nice, symbolic ordinance,’ Mazza said, ‘but with the direct action clause stripped out of it, it took the bill’s teeth out.’”
Mazza’s son also explained his displeasure with the stripped down version, telling the Boulder Daily Camera:
“The measure at this point just offers our councilors political cover,” said Cliff Willmeng, of East Boulder County United, the group that drafted the original ordinance. “It maintains their ability to prosecute people who are protecting the environment in Lafayette.”
So yes, here in Colorado it’s a bit ironic to hear Mazza going on a speaking tour hailing passage of a bill that she said was “toothless.” In fact, Mazza didn’t actually even vote on final passage of the bill. She was absent.
But that’s not all.
While Mazza was playing hooky in Ohio, the Boulder Daily Camera reported on a moratorium vote you would think registered high on the anti-fracking movement’s priority list:
“Lafayette may be primed to halt new oil and gas development on the eve of wide scale fracking plans slated for Boulder County. Officials on Tuesday evening tabled a decision until later this month, citing the need for more communication and the presence of all the council members before any decision can be made. Councilwoman Merrily Mazza, who said she would vote “no” on a moratorium last week, was absent.”
So why did Mazza tell the Boulder Daily Camera she is a “no” vote on a moratorium, and furthermore, decide to go on a speaking tour in Ohio instead of attending last week’s Lafayette City Council meeting? After all, an oil and gas moratorium is the thing of anti-fracking activists’ dreams, right? Sort of. East Boulder County United (EBCU) and Mazza’s joint press statement gives more context:
“Tonight’s moratorium is a capitulation to oil and gas interests planning on drilling Lafayette, and in is written in direct opposition to the Climate Bill of Rights passed by the Lafayette City Council this year. The moratorium, which begins to process for establishing the conditions by which Lafayette will be drilled is based upon the Council majority’s intent to be, “…consistent with COGCC rules.” It is a non-starter, and in violation of current Lafayette law which prohibits the extraction of coal, oil and gas as a violation of the right of Lafayette community members described in the Climate Bill of Rights.”
This is a change in tune for EBCU and Mazza. After the passing of the stripped down “Climate Bill of Rights” measure earlier this year, Mazza told the Boulder Daily Camera, “it technically bans fracking in the city limits as a violation to our fundamental rights, but it will be up to whatever local attorney to make some feeble attempt (to uphold).”
Cue “local attorney.” In a sequential report by the Boulder Daily Camera, Lafayette City Attorney David Williamson shined some light on the legal interpretation of the stripped down “climate bill of rights”:
“Lafayette City Attorney David Williamson indicated earlier this year that most of the bill’s language was ‘unenforceable’ and perhaps even unconstitutional.”
Consensus from all parties proves that the stripped down “Climate Bill of Rights” doesn’t hold water, and is highly susceptible to litigation similar to what we’ve recently seen in Boulder.
Re-enter “local attorney.” While Mazza was in Ohio last week on her speaking tour, the Lafayette moratorium vote was tabled due to her absence. The Boulder Daily Camera reported on the municipal quagmire:
“City Attorney David Williamson said Tuesday that he did not think there would be any confliction or contradiction between the two measures… An outright ban on drilling within certain Colorado communities has often proved to be provisional; in 2014, Lafayette saw its voter-approved ban tossed out by a Boulder District Court judge.”
Meanwhile, Mazza was on a “Community Rising” speaking tour in Ohio to promote her heralded victory of passing the “unenforceable” and “unconstitutional” “Climate Bill of Rights” she championed in Lafayette.
Traveling 3,281-mile round trip, Mazza left her anti-fracking supporters back in Lafayette with a false sense of security in the “symbolic” “Climate Bill of Rights.” This is just another addition to EBCU’s embarrassing run of PR fails.
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