On July 13th, over a hundred Coloradans from across the state gathered outside the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) meeting at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen to tell Governor Hickenlooper and other governors from across the country to say no to fracking and yes to a renewable energy future. The demonstration outside the Democratic Governors Association’s “Summer Policy Conference” was organized by 350 Colorado and other members and allies of Protect Our Colorado, a statewide coalition dedicated to protecting Colorado from fracking. The groups sought to ensure that these important state leaders and presidential hopefuls know that support for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is unpopular with voters and to urge them to chart a course for a renewable energy future.
Check out a video from the rally here, and read more after the break:
Fracking is proving to be an unacceptable risk to our families’ health and safety, water, air, and climate. Research is increasingly showing this technology to be unsafe— using hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic, carcinogenic, and endocrine-disrupting, permanently polluting groundwater, and leaking methane at a rate that is significantly exacerbating the climate crisis. We called on our leaders to use the precautionary principle and put a moratorium on fracking until it can be proven safe and allow communities to ban it without fear of lawsuits.
More than a dozen organizations, representing tens of thousands of members in Colorado and hundreds of thousands across the U.S., have joined in solidarity with the groundswell of citizens nationwide speaking out against fracking (hydraulic fracturing and all the hazardous activities it entails, including wastewater disposal and unconventional drilling techniques). The growth of this movement clearly indicates that this will be a deciding issue in the race for the White House, which many of the governors who attended the DGA are likely eyeing.
In Colorado alone, dozens of local governments in the last year have considered bans or moratoria to safeguard their residents’ property values, health, safety and environment from fracking. This opposition has bridged political divisions and geographic areas of the state. From the Western Slope to the Front Range, communities are demanding moratoria or bans on fracking and calling for renewable energy.
Citizens of Longmont voted overwhelmingly last November to prohibit fracking next to homes, schools and a public reservoir. They did so despite threats from Governor Hickenlooper to sue their community if the measure passed and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the oil and gas industry on campaign advertising that local activists said was aimed to sow fear.
Longmont is not alone. Citizens in Fort Collins, Broomfield, Lafayette, Loveland and dozens of other communities are also launching attempts to stop fracking, such as local ballot initiatives for fracking moratoria and bans.
What accounts for this proliferation of citizen involvement in fracking? Coloradans have been left with no recourse as Colorado Governor Hickenlooper has ignored citizens concerns, served as a spokesman for the oil and gas industry, and threatened lawsuits against local governments that consider modest steps to prevent fracking near homes and schools. Both federal and state regulations of the industry are proving dismally ineffective, with the oil and gas industry exempt from major provisions of seven federal environmental laws including the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act (due, in part, to what is referred to as the “Halliburton Loophole” in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, promoted by then- Vice-President Dick Cheney), and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission currently retaining only 17 inspectors responsible for over 50,000 active wells in the state.
The oil and gas industry has spent millions of dollars to oppose proposals supporting stronger regulations or even the study of health impacts from fracking. During the last legislative session, the oil and gas industry reportedly employed more lobbyists to oppose bills viewed as unfriendly to the industry than there are inspectors to monitor oil and gas wells in the entire state of Colorado.
In addition to protesters with signs and banners reading “Good Governors Don’t Frack Their People”, “Natural Gas Cooks the Climate”, “Don’t Frack Our Future” and “Renewables Now”, the action also featured the Earth Guardians youth group who acted as “Mile High Oil and Gas Assn.” in a satirical public theater piece performed during the protest. The youth posed as various humorously-named oil and gas companies under a banner that read “Good enough for the Governor. Good enough for you.” and held a mock “fracking fluid” expo, with a very convincing “Guv. Hicknlooper” taste-testing the youth’s various pretend fracking fluid cool-aid formulas and learning from the youth about the dangers of fracking.
After the action, several members of our group confronted the real Gov. John Hickenlooper at an event at the Aspen Institute. Click "listen" to hear the very interesting dialogue at the bottom of the coverage by Aspen Public Radio here.
Thanks to everyone who helped make this event a success! The governors heard our call to move beyond fossil fuels to a renewable energy future loud and clear!
Great video of our "Good Governors Don't Frack Their People" Rally, thanks to 23rd Studios.
Event co-hosts: Protect Our Colorado, 350 Colorado, CODEPINK, Food & Water Watch, Americans Against Fracking, Frack Free Colorado, Sierra Club, Earth Guardians, Frack Free Boulder, BoCoCCR, Erie Rising, EBCU, and The Mothers Project