In the growing debate over hydraulic fracturing, it would seem that Colorado is steadily becoming the front line for both the oil and gas industry and fracking protestors. In light of recent legislation failures in the state, though, there’s evidence to suggest the controversy is more hype than reality.
Members of the oil and gas industry and the citizens who rely on it for economic stability had a few moments of respite recently when two potentially disastrous anti-fracking initiatives failed to make the state’s November ballot. That minor victory was short-lived, because national anti-fracking groups have already begun to resume their Denver-based campaigns in the hopes of furthering their agenda.
Every Denver local has walked down 16th street and been greeted by a young kid with a clipboard, asking if you have a few moments to talk about fracking. These folks would love for you to believe that they’re just passionate citizens representing locally-run organizations who are working from a sense of civic duty. It would seem, though, that these “home-spun” efforts aren’t being manned by locals at all. For example, nationally known organizations like Greenpeace were actually listed among the groups collecting signatures for the recently defeated ballot initiatives 75 and 78.
The inclusion of big-name environmental groups like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club or 350.org may seem innocuous, but their participation in local politics is troubling. See, these organizations — however benevolent their intent — are actually working hard to further a national agenda, not a local one. These protestors are focused on restricting the oil and gas industry nationwide. Period. They’re not concerned with taking into account local economy, the potential loss of jobs a fracking ban might mean, regardless of the demonstrated benefits of the practice.
When national environmental groups get involved in local politics, they also drum up controversy where their may not actually be any. Throughout 2016, for example, the furor surrounding ballot initiatives 75 and 78 was a cause for great concern among the Coloradans who are connected almost irrevocably to the oil and gas industry. In spite of all the ink that these initiatives received, when it came down to it they were only able to bring in around 70,000 viable signatures each in support, a number that — no matter what anti-frackers would have you believe — doesn’t hint at any government tinkering or bias.
In short, when national organizations come to Colorado with the intent of manipulating local elections, they create controversy in areas where that controversy simply might not exist without their intervention.