A few days ago, the Denver Post published an op-ed from a Colorado mother and oil and gas worker. It described, in very personal terms, how the campaign against hydraulic fracturing is really a dishonest attack on more than 100,000 Colorado families whose livelihoods depend on jobs in the oil and gas industry.
The op-ed must have rattled the activists who are pushing four local ballot initiatives in Northern Colorado to ban hydraulic fracturing. Zev Paiss, co-owner of the PR firm that runs Frack Free Boulder, immediately went on the attack by commenting:
“The scientists and their families who work on weapons of mass destruction depend on that regular paycheck too.”
That’s right. Frack Free Boulder says Colorado’s oil and gas families are no better than the people who made the chemical weapons used by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to murder his own citizens. This kind of rhetoric is totally unacceptable and indecent, but sadly, it’s just another example of the extreme tactics used by anti-fracking activists to mislead the public. Look no further than this “Lobbying for Kids” video, promoted by Paiss and his PR firm, featuring the Food & Water Watch official overseeing the four local ballot initiatives, Sam Schabacker:
Before these children were sent to the State Capitol and cynically used as political props, Schabacker made two damaging admissions (at around the 2:30 mark). First, the real objective for Food & Water Watch in Colorado isn’t local bans on hydraulic fracturing, but a statewide ban on oil and gas development altogether. Second, Schabacker admits a moratorium is effectively the same as a ban, despite his organization’s best efforts to call the local ballot initiatives “time outs.” Here’s Schabacker in his own words:
“Whether it’s a statewide ban, or a statewide moratorium, those things are pretty complementary, right? One is a permanent stop to drilling, one is a temporary stop to drilling.”
For those unfamiliar with Food & Water Watch, it’s the $11 million group based in Washington, D.C., that’s financially supporting and standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the campaigns to ban oil and gas development in those four Northern Colorado cities. Food & Water Watch is also the biggest member of Frack Free Colorado, a group it helped create, which “helped [the] four local campaigns get on the ballot” and continues to “support local organizing for bans and moratoriums, and build on our recent momentum for a statewide ballot initiative.” Yet the activities of these groups barely register in local campaign finance reports.
As the Washington Examiner has noted, national environmental groups with combined annual budgets that exceed $50 million are driving the controversy over hydraulic fracturing in Colorado. But they are working hard to conceal their full involvement by reporting only tiny contributions of time and money to local campaign finance reports. That’s because the activists rightly fear what will happen if voters realize these ballot initiatives are really being run by groups that want to shut down domestic oil and gas development across Colorado and the rest of the nation, not just in a handful of cities and towns. This extreme political agenda would be economically disastrous, and more importantly, it isn’t supported by the facts.
If the facts even came close to supporting the claims of the activists, they wouldn’t attack a mother who works in the oil and gas industry with vicious slurs. They wouldn’t demonize thousands of other hardworking Coloradans by likening them to war criminals, and they wouldn’t be indoctrinating children to serve as foot soldiers in a dishonest political campaign.
It’s dishonest because Food & Water Watch, like other “ban fracking” groups, claims hydraulic fracturing is “inherently unsafe [and] can’t be made safer through government oversight or regulations.” But scientists, state regulators, federal officials and even senior members of the Obama administration have repeatedly concluded that this six-decade-old technology is fundamentally safe. That’s why President Obama’s Interior Secretary Sally Jewell – a former board member of the National Parks Conservation Association and petroleum engineer – says “fracking has been done safely for decades,” and her predecessor – Colorado’s own Ken Salazar – recently stated: “I would say to everybody that hydraulic fracking is safe.”
And just in case you think vicious personal attacks are out of character for the Boulder activists who want to ban oil and gas development, think again: