Colorado County Rejecting National Group’s Ban-Fracking Push

Adams County is reportedly rejecting an intense lobbying effort from national activist groups who descended on a recent commission hearing as part of their failing campaign to ban oil and gas development in Colorado. As the Denver Post reports:

“Adams County leaders made it clear Wednesday morning that they won’t support a 10-month ban on new oil and gas activity in urban parts of the county after hearing nearly eight hours of testimony that began Tuesday night.”

Spearheading the anti-fracking effort in Colorado is the Washington, D.C-based political activist group, Food & Water Watch (F&WW). At the hearing, F&WW tried to pressure Adams County Commissioners into adopting an “emergency moratorium” on hydraulic fracturing, citing a series of misleading and debunked talking points to scare the public and advance their extreme agenda.

Spreading misinformation

Without any scientific evidence to back them up, F&WW resorted to the often-repeated activist talking points on water contamination. Speaking at the hearing, Food & Water Watch Senior Organizer Lauren Petrie:

“There have been over a thousand cases of water contamination across the country where fracking has occurred and the industry has denied responsibility in many of these cases.”

Perhaps Petrie and F&WW missed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) five year study on the relationship between groundwater and hydraulic fracturing, which states clearly that the process has “not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources.” Indeed, if there were any evidence to suggest widespread or systemic impacts to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing, it would have been uncovered during the past decade of extensive study of the process by scientists at the EPA and others.

But Petrie didn’t stop there. She also rehashed the activist claim that hydraulic fracturing is a danger to public health and especially to pregnant women. From Petrie’s testimony:

“Recent studies by Johns Hopkins and recent reports by the New York Times and Bloomberg have associated health impacts such as lower birth weights, premature births and birth defects for babies whose mothers live in close proximity to wells while they were pregnant. These are serious health impacts that will have a lasting effect on women, children and their families.”

It is likely that Petrie is referring to an Oct. 2015 study from researchers affiliated with the Post Carbon Institute (and Johns Hopkins Univ.) that attempts to link fracking with premature births. As EID pointed out when the study was released, the researchers found premature rates at or below the national average in the areas closest to natural gas wells, yet they still pushed the claim that these rates were high, garnering headlines proclaiming harm.

And other academics have also taken issue with the research. Notably, Dr. Gilbert Ross, senior director of medicine and public health at the American Council on Science and Health recently said that “although these methods sound sophisticated, they tell us very little about whether fracking had any impact on the pregnancies.” He went on to explain:

There is no possible way this retrospective study could have accounted for key issues, such as genetic factors, history of prior pregnancy issues, [or] drug or alcohol use in the parents, all of which have a large influence on birth weights and the duration of pregnancy,” Ross said.

If that’s not enough, the authors of the study even acknowledged up front that they do not have the scientific evidence to link oil and gas activity to premature births. From the press release announcing the study:

“While the study can’t pinpoint why the pregnant women had worse outcomes near the most active wells, Schwartz says that every step of the drilling process has an environmental impact.” (emphasis added)

But apparently F&WW is more than happy to ignore these well documented issues with the research as long as it appears to support their efforts to ban oil and gas development.

Conclusion

According to The Colorado Statesman, F&WW is one of the “major players behind the anti-fracking movement” in our state and has “played a key role in supporting initiatives to ban or delay fracking in local communities” in Colorado, starting with Longmont in 2012. F&WW was also behind the creation of statewide groups such as Frack Free Colorado, Protect Our Colorado and Local Control Colorado as it tried to put a “local face” on the group’s national agenda.

Despite their sudden descent into Adams County, F&WW’s goal hasn’t changed: They want a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing, which would effectively ban oil and gas drilling in Colorado. Their appearance at this latest hearing of a local government underscores how opposition to energy production in Colorado is being driven largely by a single national political group that does not believe in tighter energy regulations, only energy bans.

 

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