Mountain States

You Stay Classy, East Coast ‘Ban Fracking’ Activists

The holidays are supposed to be a time of giving. Unless, that is, you’re a national activist group raising money for so-called “local” campaigns against the men, women and families of Colorado’s oil and gas industry. To these professional political operatives, the holidays are just another opportunity to take people’s money for a political campaign that will destroy jobs, take away the extra household income made possible by lower energy bills, and eliminate tax revenues for schools and other essential government services.

Need proof? Just check out the latest fundraising emails from Sam Schabacker and his colleagues at Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, which were sent out just before Christmas:

“Together, we changed the game on fracking in Colorado by stopping this dangerous industrial process in Fort Collins, Broomfield, Boulder and Lafayette last month.”

So, despite repeated insistence by activists that there was little or no outside support from national groups during these local ballot initiatives, Food & Water Watch – which has an annual budget of at least $11 million – is taking responsibility for the outcomes in each and every city. Yet for some reason, none of the local groups made up of “citizens, spending their own time and money to protect themselves” have voiced their disapproval at a big national environmental group grabbing credit for the wins and fundraising off them to boot. It was the same when Food & Water Watch issued a press release on election night – not a word of dissent from the so-called “local” campaigns. Perhaps it’s because they are one and the same.

Now that Food & Water Watch has established they deserve all the applause for winning “ban fracking” ballot initiatives in Colorado, here are some highlights from their fundraising pitch:

“By donating today, you can help us expand these monumental victories and work to ban fracking in more communities in Colorado…

Every donation helps us print more educational materials and train more community members … and enables us to build strong coalitions to work with legislators and the media to ban fracking…

Donate by December 31 and your donation will be tripled!”

What is Food & Water Watch going to spend all that money on? It’s not clear, but probably a new “community organizer” in Colorado, who according to the Food & Water Watch job description, will “build relationships with our donors and potential donors, and work with top level volunteers to strategically move our campaigns forward.”

As a reminder, Food & Water Watch’s “ban fracking” campaign seeks an immediate end to domestic oil and gas production statewide and across the nation – not just in a handful of cities and towns – despite repeated statements by senior Obama administration officials, scientists and regulators that hydraulic fracturing is fundamentally safe. And if you think the group’s holiday fundraising drive is distasteful, remember Food & Water Watch’s Mountain West Regional Director Sam Schabacker is the guy who sent children to the state legislature this year to lobby for a statewide ban on oil and gas development:

Of course, low tactics are nothing new for Food & Water Watch and the other big activist groups it works with. You need only look at the tragic and historic floods that struck our state in September. The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, an umbrella group that coordinates with Food & Water Watch and several other national organizations out of a shared office building in downtown Denver, used the floods to raise money for a major reconstruction project. For a $2,500 donation, the Alliance provided dinner, “the best seats in the house” for an Oct. 17 Bonnie Raitt concert, and a “back stage meet and greet” with Raitt herself.

At a time when thousands of Colorado families were homeless or living in flood-damaged houses and desperately needed help rebuilding, which reconstruction project did the activists choose to raise money for? Well, it turns out the money was actually raised to renovate the office space used by Food & Water Watch and the Alliance’s other tenants. Or, to use the words of the Alliance itself, when “thousands of homes were damaged [and] hundreds washed away,” the activists held high-dollar fundraisers to build themselves a “high performing center where individuals and organizations working on sustainability can come together to dream, work and collaborate for the greater good.”

(For anyone interested in some examples of how the men and women of Colorado’s oil and gas responded to those in need during the floods, click here.)

So, after using one of the worst natural disasters in Colorado history to collect donations for themselves, the activists are holding a holiday fundraising drive to collect donations for themselves.

Yep, you stay classy, East Coast activist groups.


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