Oil and Gas Not to Blame for Colorado’s Drone Swarms

On December 26, Coloradan Jennifer Rollins captured a minute of footage of a drone as it hovered above her home for around half an hour. A few days later, another Coloradan captured similar footage.

Throughout December, residents in northeastern Colorado and parts of Nebraska began to report similar drone sightings in the skies at night. The enigmatic machines are larger than average, with an estimated wingspan of six feet. Several citizens have reported not individual drones hovering in the skies, but entire swarms of drones flying in perfect formation. In one case, the flock numbered as many as seventeen. Sightings have only picked up frequency in the weeks since rural Coloradans began to call authorities, but authorities remain stumped. 

The lack of information has given rise to several conspiracy theories about the origin of the drones, chief among them the (incorrect) belief that the oil and gas industry is behind the mystery.

The Colorado Boogeyman

It would seem that the venom being aimed at the Colorado oil and gas industry isn’t restricted to the courtroom. Perhaps that explains why one of the most popular conspiracy theories used to define the drones is that an oil and gas company is using them for a secretive mapping project.

Here’s one tweet from a nervous Coloradan.

Of course, there’s no proof (or reason) for the oil and gas industry to be behind the mysterious drone appearances. In fact, as much as the niche group of anti-energy advocates would love some proof of oil’s part in the mystery, there is none.

Colorado Oil and Gas Association spokesperson Jake Taylor soundly dismissed the possibility that oil and gas had a guiding hand in the phenomenon. The New York Times also poked a hole in the “survey theory” with one logical question: if they’re looking at the land, why are the drones only appearing at night? Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to do their fly-bys during the day?

Anxiety in Eastern Colorado

To date, even a federal investigation has not yielded results. The mystery of Colorado’s drones remains unsolved. Efforts to uncover the culprit are about to step up, however. On Thursday, Colorado governor Jared Polis pledged to begin his own investigation.

Until then, residents of eastern Colorado will have to turn their cameras to the sky in the hopes of unraveling the mystery.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Does a U.S. President Have the Power to Ban Fracking?

As 2019 winds down, Democratic presidential hopefuls are beginning to fall away in droves, leaving only the true contenders in the field. As more and more candidates fall by the wayside, those that remain seem united on only two major topics. The first is their shared dislike for the current administration. The second is their outright loathing for hydraulic fracturing.

Most candidates have been forthright in their aim to stamp out fracking in the United States. One of the most popular presidential candidates, Elizabeth Warren, stated repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, her distaste for America’s energy sector. On Twitter, the Democrat pledged, “On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking—everywhere.”

Warren’s call for a fracking ban was an echo of a statement made previously by another frontrunner, Bernie Sanders. Of the three primary Democratic frontrunners, only Joe Biden has yet to speak out directly against fracking, which raises the question: could a US president really eradicate the oil and gas industry with a stroke of their pen?

No. Not Even a Little Bit.

The promise to sweep into office and extinguish fracking in the name of the environment is one that plays well among liberal crowds, but it’s simply not feasible. The President of the United States isn’t an emperor. He’s bound by the rule of law from making unilateral decisions that could derail the entire economy. It would take nothing short of an act of Congress to enact an outright fracking ban.

That said, there are actions a United States president could take to make fracking or oil exploration of any kind extremely difficult. As Christopher Guith, senior VP of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, explained to CNN, “[A] motivated President could embark on a regulatory agenda that would make fracking economically impossible.”

The possibility that a new president could make things more difficult for oil and gas has industry professionals worried about the next four years.

A Ban Isn’t Really on the Table

A fracking ban makes for a good sound bite, but it’s a hollow gesture at best. Not only would a ban on fracking be illegal, but it would also be a disaster. Even the Democrats know that. The only way to truly end fracking without crippling the United States’ economy would be a slow hard-fought campaign of increased regulations. Past administrations have tried the same tactic only to fail miserably when tested in a legal setting.

That’s not great news for an oil and gas sector enjoying international dominance. Still, it does offer the industry a sliver of hope, even in the face of a Democratic president.