by Shana Kessler
Widener University Environmental Politics and Policy Student
Colorado cities are fighting frackers. Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins and Lafayette are giving voters the chance to declare a timeout – and in one case even ban new drilling and industry-waste disposal. Colorado has been a battle zone for hashing out the national problem of domestic energy production with an environmentally sustainable future. Interestingly enough, it is companies who are advocating for the banning or prevention of fracking – and they have cited health and environmental concerns as driving forces. People are upset that the state appears to care more about the industry than the citizens, and the local economy of many Colorado cities is dependent on the outdoor settings, clean air, and nature-made tourist attractions.
Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rules are complex enough, designed to facilitate drilling while protecting the environment. Yet spills occur at a rate of about one per day, and state authorities have yet to complete a human-health or environmental study of impacts. What will the state of Colorado then do? The economic benefits of drilling are huge, and Governor John Hickenlooper is a steady supporter – go figure. Lawsuits have been filed, state v. city, and little progress seems to be made.
Opponents of fracking have raised about $16,000 as they fight for votes in those four cities, and that’s not bad for a grassroots effort. But it pales in comparison to the fundraising done by the pro-fracking sector – which amounts to about $606,205, 99.7% of which came from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. The campaign’s adviser, former Rep. B.J. Nikkel said she would love to see them beat every ballot initiative as they are bad for cities. Tell that to residents of a state where recent floods spread more than 60,000 gallons of petrochemical-laced fluids from fracking operations into yards, parks, and rivers.