By: Karen Dike, CREED Board Member and retired registered nurse.
Colorado is one of the most fracked states in the country. With over 53,000 active wells, this dangerous industrial process has spread like a plague of locust across our beautiful state. Perhaps most distressing, the oil and gas industry has heartlessly fracked hundreds of wells within a stone’s throw of homes, elementary schools, public drinking water reservoirs and other sensitive areas. The practice has continued despite the overwhelming mountain of science that shows that those unlucky souls who live in close proximity to this dangerous, industrial practice are at a greater risk of suffering cancer, birth defects, earthquakes and both air and water pollution.
How did this happen? How did one of the most breathtaking, health-conscious, and conservation-minded states allow tens-of-thousands of fracking wells in our backyards and schoolyards? It’s a sad tale and one that unequivocally fingerprints Governor Hickenlooper and the oil and gas industry’s willingness to spend millions to elect pro-fracking politicians.
In 2005, fresh into his second year as Mayor of Denver, Governor Hickenlooper trekked north to Canada to lure oil and gas executives to come to Colorado to frack our state. From this first compelling pitch, and now as the leader of the Democratic Party in Colorado, Governor Hickenlooper has rolled out the red carpet for the oil and gas industry. His state agency has rubberstamped thousands of fracking permits, he’s used state money to sue and overturn democratically enacted ballot measure votes to ban fracking in local communities, and most shamefully, he bragged about drinking fracking fluid before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in Washington, DC. What did he receive in exchange for being the fracking cheerleader-in-chief of Colorado? The oil and gas industry has contributed more than $200,000 to Governor Hickenlooper for his election campaigns.
The state legislature failed repeatedly to pass any meaningful legislation to protect their constituents from fracking. Instead, they nearly pushed through a bill that would have allowed oil and gas companies to condemn private property to build fracking pipelines. And just this year, the Colorado Supreme Court sided with Governor Hickenlooper and overturned the right of local governments to ban fracking in their jurisdiction.
That’s exactly why the March for the Clean Energy Revolution is imperative. We, the anti-fracking movement—the teachers, parents, faith leaders, breweries, social and economic justice organizations, indigenous peoples, and regular Coloradans who have passed countless sleepless nights as fracking rigs hammer away next to our homes, schools and cherished places—are marching on the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this July to say “Enough!” To all the Democratic elites who have used our land, water, air, health and property as a bargaining chip to climb the political hierarchy, we have a clear message: there is no such thing as safe fracking, we will remember your betrayal this November, and either work with us to create tens-of-thousands of good-paying jobs in renewable energy or get out of office.
And after this March, we will be taking the clean energy revolution back home to Colorado. Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED) is engaged in a historic battle to pass two constitutional amendments to reestablish local control and implement common-sense protections to stop fracking in our state. These measures will be the biggest environmental fight in the country. If successful, we’ll be the first state to pass a statewide ballot measure to stop fracking and we will reinforce the clarion call from the March for an end to fossil fuels and the politicians that support them.