Democratic state legislators hoped to avoid a party schism on oil and gas issues this session, but last week fractivists were determined to divide that fragile unity in their quest for a statewide ban – even if it means calling their fellow Dems, racists.
Coloradans Against Fracking’s political stunt on the Capitol steps served as a warning of what lies ahead — silly theatrics and a 2016 ballot measure that threatens the reelection of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.
From the Colorado Springs Gazette:
On the legislature’s last day of the 2015 session, Coloradans Against Fracking set up a mock classroom on the Capitol steps and placed dunce caps on figures portraying Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and the legislature. Each was given an “F” in “preventing harm to health and property caused by the Colorado oil and gas industry.”
“The State Legislature and Governor Hickenlooper have allowed gas & oil companies to continue to pollute and endanger the residents of low-income communities of color through continued fracking in northern Colorado and northeast Denver,” said Mike Roque, director of the Colorado Progressive Coaltion.
We’ve already noticed a pattern of fractivists tweaking their protest language to attract new funders. Last week is not the first time they’ve played the race card to denigrate oil and gas development in the name of “environmental justice.”
With numerous foundations like ice cream kings Ben and Jerry’s and even the EPA eager to shovel out environmental racism grants, expect to see this rhetoric strengthen like a tornado as 2016 rolls around.
One ballot measure is already in the signature-gathering stage. The Colorado Statesman says that U.S. Rep. Jared Polis is not involved, yet, and is still licking his wounds from last year’s failed effort.
Polis agreed to pull his ballot campaign under enormous pressure from state and national Democrats, who feared the industry’s vow to spend $50 million fighting the measure would threaten Democrats up and down the ticket, starting with Udall.
Udall lost anyway, a fate that Democrats fear could befall Bennet if an anti-fracking measure makes it onto the 2016 ballot. While Polis may not fund the effort, Colorado is seen as a ripe target by national environmental groups attempting to build on the success of December’s statewide fracking ban in New York.
“Will they find a financial angel, maybe from out of state? I know they’ll try,” said (Floyd) Ciruli. “I’ll be shocked if the anti-hydrocarbon folks and some of the directly affected NIMBYs wouldn’t give this a run, but from what we saw the last time, the volunteer effort did not make it.”
Warning to the Democrat Party, ignore these flakes at your own peril.