Antifracking victories: Voters reject industry, Hickenlooper threats of lawsuits

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Despite being outspent by oil and gas interests by more than 30-1 -- and facing the threat of more litigation by Colorado's gas-friendly governor -- fracktivists are celebrating the passage of ballot measures prohibiting new drilling in Boulder, Lafayette and Fort Collins. The moratorium vote on oil and gas production in a fourth city, Broomfield, remains too close to call, with the latest returns showing the proposed five-year ban in that municipality losing by a mere thirteen votes, with up to 363 ballots still to be counted.

"I just think that people don't want to be fracked," says Gary Wockner, Colorado program director for Clean Water Action, which supports the fracking bans. "It appears that no amount of money spent by the oil and gas industry can change that."

Few issues in Colorado have become as divisive in recent years as the boom in hydraulic fracturing -- using massive amounts of water mixed with toxic chemicals to extract oil and gas from tight shale formations thousands of feet below the surface. Environmental groups have raised questions about threats to air and water quality; grassroots opponents have railed about property values and criticized the efforts of state regulators. Under the leadership of former environmental activist Tisha Schuller, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association has spent freely on lobbying against tighter statewide restrictions on fracking -- and poured more than $800,000 into efforts to defeat the four local bans this fall. But the ad blitz opposing the measures, contending they would cost jobs and hurt the economy, was sharply criticized in some quarters for being alarmist and "headshakingly embarrassing."

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John Hickenlooper at a press conference earlier this year.
The cash infusion did little to change hearts and minds in Boulder, where a five-year suspension on drilling has comfortably carried three-quarters of the vote. Fort Collins, where COGA spent roughly half its wad, adopted a similar moratorium by a 56-43 margin. The result in Lafayette, which was presented with a more indefinite ban, wasn't even that close, with "yes" votes leading by a 59-41 margin. In Broomfield, the vote is just about deadlocked, with 10,266 opposing the moratorium and 10,253 for it.

The spread of voter-approved, multiyear bans on drilling shows the strength of antifracking sentiment in some the Front Range's most politically liberal cities. Wockner notes that Governor John Hickenlooper has consistently opposed such local moratoria and has threatened to sue municipalities that challenge state authority over regulation; the state is already in litigation with Longmont over its outright ban (not a temporary suspension) of fracking. "Governor Hickenlooper's statements are increasingly brazen and arrogant," Wockner says. "He says people aren't educated about fracking. Maybe it's the governor who's not educated. He needs to listen to the voters."

B.J. Nikkels, the former state legislator who served as a coordinator of the pro-fracking camp, couldn't be reached this morning for comment. We'll update this post if and when she gets back to us.

More from our Environment archive: "Fracking interests, Xcel spend more than $1 million combined on ballot issues."

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56 comments
Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Pendejo Joe still doesn't have a clue. MOST of our oil comes from NOT the Middle East but our neighbors Canada and Mexico. Yep...you heard it right. Those dang beaners and crazy Canucks have been feeding our addiction the most -- not dem turr'ists. BTW, Canada has been pretty much destroying its northern frontier and polluting the local groundwater of native lands for all this time. Yet, the price of oil/gas CONTINUES to go UP on average -- not DOWN -- in spite of the increase of fracking in North America. But go ahead and keep sucking up the corporate propaganda like the dutiful little sheep that you are, Pendejo Joe.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Yo, Pendejo Joe. The US govt has been sending dumb, obedient fucks like you to the Middle East and elsewhere in the producing world for decades to kill those "inconvenient" brown-skinned people. Yet, all that has accomplished is to push the price of oil/gas UP....not to mention motivating those very brown-skinned people to join or support international terrorism. Pendejo Joe = a morAn and a even dumber fuckwad.

Heaven Northrop
Heaven Northrop

Heaven is my legal name for one I had no choice in the matter and quite frankly I don't like it anymore than you do. If you want to have an educated ADULT conversation let me know otherwise I do not waste my time with people who would rather name call than have a constructive debate.

Joe Ponce de Carrano
Joe Ponce de Carrano

Keep drilling Scott and feed yourself. Fuck these pussies who wont pickup a rifle and kill to save me a nickel on a gallon of gas in the middle east. Many dumb fucks who cannot critically think.

Joe Ponce de Carrano
Joe Ponce de Carrano

We poison Arab land for oil so why no bitching? Oh that is right. You are too much of a coward to pickup a weapon and save me a nickel on a gallon of gas by fighting in the middle east. Real critical thought there Heaven. LOL..A coward and a dumb fuck. Heaven = head in the clouds. And btw way...Heaven is a fairytale.

Joe Ponce de Carrano
Joe Ponce de Carrano

Heather is a whore for empire. As long as we kill Arabs for oil she is ok. Another cuckoo, cuckoo dumb fuck.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

"I'm sitting on a rig in ND right now fracking. Translation: You're straddling some truck driver at a pit stop along I-94 in the middle of nowhere, ND and "fracking" his brains out. LMAO.

Scott Ingalsbe
Scott Ingalsbe

Anyone with a job is technically a "whore" for money.

Scott Ingalsbe
Scott Ingalsbe

I may be wrong but I feel that any people against fracking would change their mind if they owned land that had oil and they owned the mineral rights that person would frack the shit outa their own backyard....... Next to a school even.

Erik Radke
Erik Radke

Fact of the matter is that it really doesn't matter if you ban fracking or not. The oil companies are currently drilling under most metropolitan cities anyways. With the octopus and directional drilling they can drill wherever they want right now anyways. The argument against oil alternatives is retarded to say the least, hemp oil is already used to produce everything regular oil can but does it more efficiently and cleaner. Suppression of information turns people into morons.

Jamie Kinsley
Jamie Kinsley

Yeah and the fact that you think our country isn't going to have problems when we have to negotiate with other countries for oil shows that you don't understand the implications of your anti-fracking campaign

Ronnie Mooney
Ronnie Mooney

You are too fucking stupid to have an opinion of your own.

Ronnie Mooney
Ronnie Mooney

Go jump off a tall bridge you fucking idiot.

Heaven Northrop
Heaven Northrop

Your entitled to your opinion, but I don't lower myself to being an online bully I have a little something called class! Have a nice day!! :) I do hope that you don't teach your children to be bullies we have enough hate filled people in this world!

Jason Chavez
Jason Chavez

the argument on the pro-oil side of "then don't use electricity, don't use tires, don't use this and that, blah blah blah..." demonstrates how weak and full of holes/lack of evidence their arguments truly are. We live in an oil society so although many of us don't support it, its difficult to funcion without it in some form or another. The business and political side is what needs to change in correlation with better personal comsumption choices, which is what we are seeing finally begin to take shape in our great state. Keep up the good fight Heaven Northrop!

Mish Desmarais
Mish Desmarais

I don't see how anyone would support fracking unless it's giving you a position of power or you're making a lot of money off it. This is absolutely going to be one of those things that we are going to look back on and say, "what the hell were we thinking?" No one with a working, honest brain would think that what we are doing to the environment that we depend on to live is a good idea.

Chelly Serna
Chelly Serna

I wish we could make all the pro-fracking people live in their own special fracking zone town. I wonder how long it would take them to change their mind?? Til their hair falls out? Til their dogs die? Til their children get cancer? Hmm.. guess we won't know til we try, right?

Scott Ingalsbe
Scott Ingalsbe

I sometimes feel that most people in colo should stick to smoking weed and leave decisions like this to the adults. Haha

Jamie Kinsley
Jamie Kinsley

Oh yeah thats my problem...I must have been brainwashed...so tell me how are you living without oil...their should be a documentary following your amazing life!

Cathy Bowen
Cathy Bowen

Oooh so intimidating. She is right whether people admit it or not. There is nothing good about fracking except of course for the people making money from it. And that is only temporary.

Ski Steve
Ski Steve

Nothing wrong with banning in your city, nobody cares about it there anyhow. Just making a buffer zone, if you will. I don't want it in my town but I don't care about in the middle of west and east bumfk. Moot.

Nicole Courter
Nicole Courter

I love people who are brainwashed into thinking oil is the only option...

Nicole Courter
Nicole Courter

Yay! Every time one of those commercials about how good and safe fracking is came on I wanted to vomit.

Ronnie Mooney
Ronnie Mooney

Heaven Northrop you are a fucking idiot. You have no idea what the fuck you are talking about. You should be arrested for O2 theft.

Heaven Northrop
Heaven Northrop

But I will concede that fracking is safe when the company takes the time to adhere to safety policies and properly stores and deposes of the contaminated water but that does not seem to be a top priority to many of these companies.

ljmirelez
ljmirelez

I Like Governor Hickenlooper, but his stance on oil and gas regulation is ridiculous. After marijuana was legalized last year, he stated that while he wasn't in support of legalization "The voters have spoken and we have to respect their will." Why is it different now? wouldn't have anything to do with Lobbyists, would it?

Drew Sidener
Drew Sidener

Here's where Colorado turns over that land to the Feds so they can sell the rights back to the oil companies.

Jamie Kinsley
Jamie Kinsley

You better start inventing an alternative to oil if you want all of your modern amenities

Jamie Kinsley
Jamie Kinsley

As well as your pen ink, CD player, umbrella, linens and 5000+ more items!

Jamie Kinsley
Jamie Kinsley

Yes and those bike tires were produced using oil...

Heaven Northrop
Heaven Northrop

I don't own a car thank you very much I have a bike gets me where I need to go!

Mark Moffett
Mark Moffett

Studies show that drinking water in areas with heavy fracking will turn you into a secessionist.

Heaven Northrop
Heaven Northrop

Well lets see here when you dump an undisclosed amount of chemicals into the ground and then proceed to pump out these chemicals into the earth, use thousands of gallons of water to pump it back out and hope that none of it escapes into drinking water. Store said chemical water in ponds that are notorious for leaking into groundwater and wells generally causing all sorts of fun contamination. Yeah if that is not poisoning the environment I don't know what is. Do some research do not become an oil company sheepal. I lived in a fracking zone, in fact I lived in worse than a fracking zone I lived in a super fund zone after a fracking pond leaked into the general ground water of the town. Every day there were new stories about residence young and old getting all sorts of new and fun cancer. I lost 6 neighbors in a year from different forms of cancer. You might be willing to risk your health for cheaper natural gas but I am good I would rather pay more than be dead or have horrific side effects.

Jamie Kinsley
Jamie Kinsley

I have done my research if you hate oil so much get rid of your car...you tires are produced by a production line that uses oil as well as most of the items in your life!

Jamie Kinsley
Jamie Kinsley

Actually I have and my Mom is the oil and gas business so I know all about it. If the frackers are a respectable company they follow all guidelines, there is no threat to the community and the community benefits greatly financially

Heaven Northrop
Heaven Northrop

Nice to know that you are one who trusts the oil companies because after all they have YOUR best interests at heart, why not do so research on the subject.

Heaven Northrop
Heaven Northrop

Have you lived in a Fracking Zone? I would take it from your comment that you have not. I have, you get your water out of the tap and fizzes like soda and is brown. Brown fizzy water oh so yummy! I lost 6 neighbors to cancer in less than a year 6. 4 out of the 6 being under the age of 35 and in great health prior to fracking. So no thank you after having lived in a fracking zone I refuse to drink any water that is not bought from the store.

GuestWho
GuestWho

@Elizabeth Sotelo Pearlman    You can be educated and still have bias towards a particular view.  Many geologists support fracking, many geologists have unresolved concerns about fracking, and many geologists oppose fracking...and all of them are educated.

GuestWho
GuestWho

@Scott Ingalsbe     It seems few people care about fracking in places like north dakota and texas...only in visually appealing states with lots of national parks and tourism that could be marred by fracking.  The USA will never allow fracking in national parks for good reason....think about that pro frackers.

GuestWho
GuestWho

@Heaven Northrop   It is legal to dispose of fracking waste via deep well injection methods, polluting deep aquifers...waste that would be illegal dispose of by dumping into shallow aquifers and surface water.  These deep aquifers typically aren't tapped as a water source but future generations might need this water and if the pollution continues and escalates then this water source might be too contaminated to use.  Cities in mexico are already facing this reality when trying to solve their water shortage problems.  The increase in seismic activity caused by fracking is also a huge concern and many geoligists fear as fracking progresses it will damage fault lines significantly increasing the insensity and frequency of major earthquakes.  

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