Whether you’re in Loveland, Denver or even the nation’s capital, the events of the past week proved once more that Coloradans from across the political spectrum support homegrown energy production and all the benefits that go with it. In fact, opponents of domestic energy production who are teaming up with national groups to make Colorado “ground zero” in their campaign to shut down the state’s oil and natural gas industry have a much higher mountain to climb than they first thought.
Starting statewide, Coloradans voted in primaries last week for Republicans and Democrats who strongly endorse the development of natural gas in the State. On the Democratic side, Governor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Senator Mark Udall, who have long stated their support for natural gas, faced no competition in the Democratic primary. On the Republican side, both Bob Beauprez, a former Congressman running for Governor, and Representative Cory Gardner, running for U.S. Senate, also strongly support domestic energy development.
Then in Northern Colorado, the citizens of Loveland rejected a ballot measure aimed at banning oil and gas development. Beyond the damaging impact that “ban fracking” activism has on the local and state economy, voters in Loveland also saw firsthand just how extreme the opponents of responsible energy production really are. As The Colorado Observer reported:
“Loveland’s fracking fight erupted the day before Tuesday’s election as prominent fractivist Phillip Doe denied calling former Rep. B.J. Nikkel [director of the Loveland Energy Action Project] a ‘trained talking dog’ and a Nazi amid demands that he apologize for his remarks.”
The activist refused to apologize, and even attacked reporters for daring to write about his vicious slurs. The Loveland Reporter-Herald editorialized “if you have to resort to calling your opponent a Nazi … you need a better argument.” And Denver Post political reporter Lynn Bartels noted the irony of Nikkel being “slimed” by anti-fracking activists, given her record as a legislator on gay rights:
“Only two years ago, the left hailed Republican Rep. B.J. Nikkel as a hero for her support for a civil-unions measure but now a ‘fractivist’ has described the former lawmaker as ‘trained talking dog’ and compared her to a Nazi.”
The men, women and families of Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry are deeply grateful to the citizens of Loveland for considering the facts and weighing the local and statewide impacts of the “ban fracking” ideology. In our busy lives, taking the scary claims of political activists at face value is much easier than independently checking things out. We are humbled by the citizens who rolled up their sleeves to find out what’s really at stake when “ban fracking” groups like Food & Water Watch come to town to run an anti-energy political campaign.
The day after the Loveland ban was defeated, Congressman Gardner and Senator Udall – who disagree on many other critical energy issues, including the Keystone XL pipeline – continued to lead efforts to move natural gas legislation through Congress that would help increase energy security and create jobs back home.
Congressman Gardner succeeded in winning strong bipartisan support for his legislation, H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act, to increase exports of U.S. natural gas. The bill passed the House of Representatives 266-150, with 46 Democrats joining nearly all Republicans in voting yes, including Colorado Democrat Representative Ed Perlmutter. His vote is particularly noteworthy given he represents much of Jefferson County, which Politico featured as a “key county to watch” to determine upcoming elections in Colorado. But support for Gardner’s bill from Jefferson County was best demonstrated by a bipartisan letter from three local elected officials:
“As a Jefferson County Commissioner, I am acutely aware of the impact the energy industry has on our local budgets. We also understand how beneficial the jobs created by this industry are to our community. Not only are the tax dollars paid by the industry an important part of our budget, so is the economic prosperity that is created by stable and well-paying jobs.”
Despite all this, “ban fracking” activists and millionaire Boulder Congressman Jared Polis are continuing their push for anti-energy initiatives on the statewide ballot in November. In fact, the Polis-backed campaign even denied to reporters that the result in Loveland was a setback for the activists, and insisted that the oil and gas industry is “running scared.”
In reality, the only thing that’s truly scary about the debate over hydraulic fracturing in Colorado today is what will happen to our state if the anti-energy activists win at the ballot box this November. While the activists now claim they only care about banning oil and gas development at the local level, the groups they represent clearly have a bigger agenda to ban it all across the state.
We said this months ago, but in the circumstances, it bears repeating: Congressman Polis should reconsider his decision to side with national anti-energy activist groups and bankroll the permanent expansion of their angry and extreme strain of environmental campaigning into Colorado. When an industry supports more than 110,000 Colorado jobs, almost $30 billion of economic activity, $1.6 billion in tax revenue and energy bills 23 percent lower than the national average, responsible leaders don’t help political activists who are trying to wipe that industry out.