Fracking The System: Colorado’s Oil And Gas Wars, a documentary film by Brian Hedden that is in its final stages of post-production, has already been submitted to several upcoming film  festivals with the hopes of a premier screening in Fall 2023.

I’ve started writing this piece as the  news coverage (July 11) of climate-related stories are getting more and more coverage, at last, although climate change is not new.

When I moved to Boulder in October 2021 I was struck by the intensity of the haze while making my way across the Denver-metro area, and, oh the smell, while off in the distance I could see the mountains.

I asked myself: How can a state that prides itself on its incredible natural beauty allow such degradation of its environment and permit such hardship on so many Coloradans? Including serious health issues and economic hardship.

I’m no scientist, but I try to get as much information as possible, ask lots of questions and try to be  aware of the situations around me. If the air looks bad, it smells bad, then it probably is bad, and if it’s bad why is it bad and what can we do to fix it.

This is what led me to 350 Colorado and to Brian’s film. 

Fracking the System movie poster

The trailer for Fracking The System: Colorado’s Oil And Gas War is attention grabbing with dramatic footage of emissions spewing from fracking sites and the Suncor facility in metro Denver, and flames shooting out of water faucets in people’s homes.

And there was footage of  concerned Coloradans who became active in the grassroots movement to get a ballot measure (Proposition 112) passed in 2018 that would prevent fracking sites from operating within 2,500 feet from occupied buildings and other areas designated as vulnerable including schools and  childcare facilities.

Fracking rig near Bella Romero

Fracking Rig feet from the Bella Romero Academy, a school in Greeley, Colorado


At the time, fracking restrictions going into the 2018 election specified that wells must be 1,000 feet from high-occupancy buildings (schools and hospitals), 500 feet from occupied buildings such as homes, and 350 feet from outdoor areas including playgrounds and sports fields.

Fracking The System documents the heart-felt and hard-fought struggle of concerned parents and families and environmental activists who succeeded in getting Proposition 112 on the ballot during the 2018 election.

The film also exposes the well-funded  and nefarious tactics of the oil and gas industry to defeat Proposition 112 – misinformation, intimidation, and much more including suing Brian Hedden, the filmmaker, for footage he shot with a drone over a fracking site. And then there was the political backroom deals that undermined the efforts of grassroots organizations.  

Meet Brian Hedden

Brian grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, near Princeton and Trenton, and lived on the same  block as Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show. Brian religiously watched The Daily Show  between the ages 13-22 and was inspired by Stewart’s approach to political commentary that  was infused with humor while being cerebral and emotional.

When he was 11, Brian made his first environmental public service announcement video. His love of storytelling led Brian to  enroll in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he received his BFA in 2008.

In the subsequent years following graduation, Brian moved to San Diego where he freelanced in the independent film industry, started his own production company, Earth Dog Films, followed by a two-year hiatus that took him into sustainable farming (permaculture) and teaching at a  preschool in Colorado. In 2016, Brian returned to filmmaking to tell a story about his time teaching at the preschool. 

For the past five and a half years, Brian has devoted most of his time, energy and financial resources to the making of Fracking The System.

And because Brian is an independent filmmaker he is spending much of his time in the final stretch focused on raising the money needed for a soundtrack, color correction and legal fees (all the things that go into the making and distribution of a film).

How to support the film

A few weeks ago, I attended a fundraising screening for the film and  had the opportunity to see the film and came away thinking and believing that this film needs to be seen by as many people as possible. Thanks to Brian, I learned a lot about the fracking and oil industry in Colorado and the devastating impact on the state, especially in economically disadvantaged communities and communities of color, on wildlife and natural resources. 

Fracking The System: Colorado’s Oil And Gas Wars, in my opinion, will be critical in helping to get a proposed ballot measure to phase out fracking (no new fracking permits issued) in Colorado by 2030 during the 2024 election.

Use this link to pledge to sign the to place the Fracking Phase Out ballot initiative on the 2024 Colorado statewide ballot

We are all witnessing the extreme conditions of  climate change – Phoenix, AZ has just broken the record of 19 days with temperatures above 110 degrees, flash flooding in the Northeast, the wildfires in Canada, and I could go on and on because this is happening around the globe.

Fracking The System is a call to action where we can make a difference in 2024 to phase out fracking in Colorado. I encourage you to watch the trailer and then make a donation. Let’s phase out fracking by 2030! 

Check out the crowdfunding campaign + watch the trailer here

Susan Heske posing with a guitar outdoors

About the Writer:
Susan Heske


Susan Heske moved to Boulder, CO, in October 2021. She previously worked as Senior Director of Communications for Student Services at The New School in New York City. She has been involved with social justice issues for many years.