The fate of a multi-billion dollar industry in Colorado, and the landscape of the 2014 November ballot, will be greatly effected by the outcome of a Loveland vote on a two-year energy moratorium.
The fight has taken a nasty tone over the last week. The Sierra Club has jumped into the Loveland ballot contest both feet first. The national green group has been running an aggressive ground game and ballot collection effort.
From the Sierra Club:
Dear Sierra Club Activists,
The Sierra Club has endorsed the Loveland 2-year fracking moratorium ballot initiative. This weekend, please help the Protect Our Loveland campaign notify voters that ballots will be mailed out on June 2, with election day on June 24. More info below…
Lauren Swain, Chair
RMC Beyond Oil & Gas Team
Unfortunately, the fracktivists haven’t been able to keep their notoriously insane national activist leaders on script. Voters this morning in Loveland opened their newspapers to learn that a leading anti-oil and gas activist had called pro-industry spokesperson BJ Nikkel a “Nazi” and “a dog”. The outrageous epithet was first reported by The Denver Post‘s Lynn Bartels and The Colorado Observer last week.
Talk about being off message when it matters most.
On the other side of the gun fight is the one and the same Nikkel, known best as being the key vote to advance civil union legislation two years ago. Nikkel leads an industry-backed group that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to local press reports, fighting the anti-frack propagandist. The former State Rep. has been a pit bull. Mrs. Honey Badger anyone?
Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development has, according to local press accounts, stepped up its pro-energy messaging in the community.
Added up, what you see is (hat-tip to the Post‘s Bartels on this phrase) a Goliath vs. Goliath proxy war over fracking in Loveland.
Tea-leaf readers will be doing their best to conjure what the outcome of the election means for wider statewide jockeying.
If the Loveland moratorium passes, look for talk of a special session to intensify and Jared Polis to puff his feathers.
If the Loveland ban flames out, expect anti-Polis hardliners to point to Loveland as a firewall demonstrating that, while bans may have support in liberal and center-left bastions like Boulder and Broomfield, respectively, all this fracking noise is dead-in-the-water when the debate plays out on more neutral ground.
We have written at length about how little the success of a fracking ban in a college town like Boulder or Fort Collins speaks to the fate of the same debate statewide. Even Broomfield, where a ban passed by only a dozen or so votes, was carried by President Obama by a wide margin.
If Loveland voters give the same anti-fracking verdict, the fracktivists can claim the upper-hand.
If voters reject the ban, the oil and gas industry and “drill baby drill” Republicans will have a firewall to point to in Loveland.