Fracking bans: Industry cash raised to fight them tops $600,000
"They are deeply out of touch with ordinary Coloradans who want to protect their health, safety and property from fracking," Schabacker says.
"The oil and gas industry is trying to intimidate voters by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy this election," adds Laura Fronckieweicz, campaign manager for the pro-moratorium group Our Broomfield.
"Our approach to regulation is not to stand and fight, but to engage, and to engage politically in a nonpartisan way," COGA president Tisha Schuller told me when I interviewed her a few months ago for our cover story "The Insider." The trade organization has been particularly involved in trying to keep local governments from following Longmont's lead and seeking an outright ban on fracking -- and clearly, if you're trying to get your opponents' attention, few tools are as engaging as a check with six or more digits in it.
But Ray Martinez, the former Fort Collins mayor who's heading up the Fort Collins Alliance for Reliable Energy, says it would be wrong to characterize the opposition to the moratorium as simply industry-driven. "There's definitely local opposition," he insists. "That's the reason I started this. The Chamber of Commerce is opposing this. The city council voted against it. I've talked to many people in the business community who oppose it."
Martinez suggests it's a difficult climate for any kind of political contributions right now -- but his group isn't exactly hurting for cash due to COGA's largesse.
Similarly, Rick Fernandez, a founding member of It's Our Broomfield, Too!, describes the core of his group as longtime Broomfield residents who have a different perspective on energy development than Fronckieweicz and some of the other relative newcomers to town who are key backers of the moratorium.
"I've lived in Broomfield for forty years," says Fernandez, who works for a telecom software company. "To suggest our group got started by COGA is not accurate. We asked COGA to get involved because we knew this was going to be an uphill educational battle."
More from our Environment archive: "Oil and gas industry poised to outspend fracktivists 30-1 on Boulder moratorium."