As a Colorado resident and volunteer with 350 Denver and Coloradans Against Fracking (CAF), I am determined to stop the harmful colonization of our state by the oil and gas industry. In pursuit of that goal, I assisted in the preparations and videotaped the walkout demonstration staged at the rulemaking hearing held by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) in Greeley on August 3. Watch the video here. 350 Colorado and several local chapters are among the 40 groups represented by the CAF coalition.
As the meeting opened, 20 or more members and supporters of CAF rose from their seats, turned their backs to COGCC director Matthew Lepore, held up signs of protest, and left the room. During the walkout, we delivered our Declaration Rejecting the Legitimacy of the COGCC to Mr. Lepore, placing him on notice that we reject the authority of his agency “to make decisions that negatively impact our health, our air, our water, and our land, or violate the will of the voters seeking to protect their health, air quality, water quality, or property from the impacts of oil and gas extraction.” See the news coverage of the event here.
As with any colonization effort, the surest way for the aggressor to succeed in exploiting the targeting resources is to curry the favor of those claiming to represent the colonized population. The COGCC has been a willing partner to the oil and gas industry, assuring access to the resources beneath the homes of our residents, despite the harm caused by toxic emissions, spills, explosions, fires, and the release of climate-altering gasses at every stage of production, transmission, and consumption of these deadly fossil fuels.
The COGCC has been mandated by our state legislature to “Foster the responsible, balanced development, production, and utilization of the natural resources of oil and gas in the state of Colorado in a manner consistent with protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources.” However the commission’s actions are most consistent with support for more drilling and with failure to address the complaints of those negatively impacted by extreme energy extraction.
The rules discussed at the Greeley meeting are based on recommendations made by the task force appointed last year by Governor Hickenlooper in a deal cut to secure withdrawal of protective ballot measures sponsored by US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder). Recommendation 17 calls for defining what constitutes a “large-scale facility” proposed within an “urban mitigation area” and Recommendation 20 enables drilling and fracking operations to be included in local governments’ comprehensive plans, guaranteeing space for drilling to occur. Neither recommendation protects communities from the threat of state-preemption based lawsuits if they choose to adopt restrictions protecting residents from fracking impacts. Neither recommendation prevents toxic emissions, spills, explosions, truck traffic, or noise from harming residents.
CAF has taken a stand making it clear to the COGCC and Governor Hickenlooper that we will continue to seek genuine protection for the residents, environment, and wildlife of Colorado.
by Lauren Swain
350 Colorado Fracking Issue Specialist