Mountain States

Rep. Polis Sides with New York Activist Groups Over Coloradans on Ban-Fracking Initiatives

New campaign finance disclosures reveal that Congressman Jared Polis is getting behind an anti-fracking ballot measure that is opposed by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and state business leaders, who have called it “an attack on Colorado’s economy.” As the Denver Business Journal reports:

“The group that Polis gave money to, Yes for Local Control over Oil and Gas, raised a total of $55,100. Of that, $50,000 came from Polis and his father, Stephen Schutz, of SPS Studios in La Jolla, California.”

In other words, Polis is officially teaming up with the New York-based Fracking Fund of the New World Foundation, which, as the Denver Business Journal reports, donated $25,000 to the  anti-fracking initiative campaign. The filings also show that national activist groups Food & Water Watch, and Greenpeace are also pouring resources into the campaign.

This is not the first time Polis has worked with national ban-fracking groups in Colorado. In 2014, Polis backed a similar pair of statewide initiatives but pulled his support after Gov. Hickenlooper described them as “radical” and “extreme measures that would drive oil and gas out of Colorado.” Facing opposition from his fellow Democrats, and a large swath of the state’s business community, Polis withdrew his support of those measures in exchange for creating a task force to study the issue and craft recommendations.

Now, Polis is jumping back into this same anti-energy campaign, which again faces strong opposition. News of his support for the “local control” initiatives comes as Gov. Hickenlooper is pushing back against comments made by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump and, as the Denver Post points out, the position of his own favored presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, on the issue of local control. As the Denver Post reports:

“It is a responsibility to make sure that we keep those sites safe. But if you turn over total responsibility to the local communities, they are subject to the voters who aren’t anywhere near the (fracking site) but will, in many cases … vote to ban any oil and gas activity at all. The people who own the minerals, they don’t have a vote.”

Along with Hickenlooper, Coloradans for Responsible Reform (CFRR), a coalition that includes influential Colorado Democrats like former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and former U.S Senator and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, have come out against the initiatives. From a press release announcing their involvement:

“Once again, the alarms are sounding as misguided groups are gathering signatures to place ill-conceived, vague proposals on the ballot.  While their advocates say the measures are designed to protect Colorado, their poorly defined attempts will instead undermine businesses across the state, damage our economy and kill jobs,” said Ken Salazar, former United States Senator and Secretary of the Interior.

With the national activist groups behind these measures growing increasingly extreme, Polis isn’t likely to have much support from prominent members of his own party. And that should tell the citizens of Colorado something about the fringe ideology fueling the anti-energy campaigns that Polis is embracing.


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