Lawmakers Call Out Patagonia for Anti-Fracking Stance

November 18, 2013
Patagonia’s summer catalog included an anti-fracking essay by Sheahan that criticized the extraction process

Patagonia’s summer catalog included an anti-fracking essay criticizing the technique

DENVER—Patagonia’s crusade against hydraulic fracturing in Colorado has drawn the ire of Republican lawmakers, who are calling on the California outdoor-clothing company to reconsider its position.

In a stinging letter to Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan, five legislators representing northwest Colorado ask him to “take even a few moments to learn the scientific facts about a production process which you so vocally disparage.”

The legislators signing the letter are Republicans Randy Baumgardner, Steve King, Ray Scott, Bob Rankin and Jared Wright.

“[W]e would like to call your attention to the damage your recent and ill-thought out anti-fracing campaign is doing to the people and economy of both our region and our state,” said the two-page letter, sent the week of Nov. 4-8. “The damage that may be caused is all the more regrettable because your statements are not based on any facts about the world of fracing.”

Patagonia’s summer catalog included an anti-fracking essay by Sheahan that criticized the extraction process as a “Faustian bargain.” Patagonia is based in Ventura, Calif., but Sheahan singled out Colorado’s oil-and-gas development for criticism.

“In Colorado, where the industry has a long history and is expanding rapidly, there are 48,000 active wells and 5,000 documented spills of toxic chemicals to date,” said Sheahan in the essay. “Over 47 percent of the spills from January 2003 to March 2008 contaminated groundwater or surface water, according to the Oil and Gas Accountability Project.”

In their letter, the Senate Republicans point out that Patagonia sells clothing made of polyester and nylon, which are petroleum-based, and that its catalogs cater to customers who can afford high-end outdoor hobbies like skiing, rock-climbing and surfing.

“We would ask you to bear this in mind as well: a frac-free western Colorado would mean a largely Patagonia-free western Colorado,” said the letter. “The quality products you provide are, after all, luxury items for most people, which by definition are not items that people buy when they do not know where the income to buy food is going to come from.”

The oil-and-gas industry provides 10,000 direct jobs in western Colorado and thousands more indirect jobs. A ban on fracking would “result in all 14 drilling rigs currently operating in this part of the state being shut down,” said the letter.

“Without economic development, people simply cannot afford the recreational activities that are the lifeblood of your company,” said the Senate Republicans.

Patagonia is known for its environmental activism, which includes selling the anti-fracking documentary Gasland on its website.

A June 17 article in the pro-industry website Energy in Depth called Sheahan’s essay a “publicity stunt.”

“[I]f Sheahan really felt that the oil and gas industry should be shut down, he should stop production on all Patagonia petroleum-based products, at the very least,” said the article by Courtney Loper. “We know that won’t happen, because while he’d like his activist friends on the East and West coasts to think he’s one of them, he’s also a shrewd businessman who recognizes that his brand cannot exist without oil and natural gas.”

Patagonia spokeswoman Jess Clayton said she had not yet seen the legislators’ letter, and wanted to obtain a copy before commenting.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

9 Responses to Lawmakers Call Out Patagonia for Anti-Fracking Stance

  1. gman68137
    November 18, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Okay…crossing Patagonia off my holiday list now…

  2. Robert Schutzius
    November 19, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Definitely not buying anything from Patagonia ever again. What business does a California corporation have meddling in Colorado’s politics and economic policies. Especially a corporation that manufactures all of its garments using hydrocarbon derivatives in SE Asian sweatshops, delivers their products to their stores in hydrocarbon-fueled delivery trucks, and sells to customers who drive hydrocarbon-fueled cars to get to their retail stores. That’s right, put us out of business and you’ll be putting yourself out of business too.

  3. Peter1951
    November 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Enviro’s selfishly believe that they are the true stewards of Mother Earth. If they had their way, we would all be freezing to death in our tepees. Patagonia, keep your foolishness in California. Stay there and continue wondering why your once golden paradise is now an economic sink-hole.

  4. caribousteaks
    November 20, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Indeed it always amazes me how greenies can’t seem to put 2+2 together. They think it equals 3 or 5 or something. Plastics, resins, inks, detergents, all filled with lovely oil and gas based polymers. How wonderful our world is. And gosh how good Patagonia is for buying those polymers to use in their products. Buying them by the hundreds of tones! Yet they don’t like oil or gas???? I tell you rather than buy REI, LL Bean, or Patagonia (they all have the same view on this) I’m going out and blasting a polar bear or seal or three and making myself a good set of outdoor clothes. Really look the part. I’m sure my Alaskan native friends would be happy to sew them up for me and put their seal of approval on it. Amazingly REI in Anchorage (scratch head Sally Jewell) won’t allow natural fur to be worn into their shop, even during Anchorage’s annual winter carnival called “Fur Rondezvous”. Instead they prefer un-natural fur ruffs around their parka hoods….made of…….? Daft idiots, the lot of them!

  5. grandvalleydave
    November 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Well. Obviously none of the commenters have much of any understanding of Patagonia or their product line. Nor are they aware that Patagonia doesn’t want their business. More isn’t better. It is what got us in this terrible mess. I commend them for taking an outspoken position on continued oil production. I remain a loyal Patagonia customer and on the rare occasion I wear out a piece of their exceptional organic cotton or recycled plastic-based clothing to such a degree that I can no longer repair it, I will recycle it and definitely replace it with another. That has been the case since 2003 and it has worked exceptionally well for me! Keep Colorado beautiful and clean.

  6. Ray Devine
    November 21, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    So, a Stanford PhD in Physics and Nobel Prize winner (Steven Chu) says fracking is safe, a stance adopted by TWO heads of Dept of Interior (Salazar/Jewell), TWO heads of EPA (Jackson/McCarthy) AND Chu’s successor at DOE.

    Now,given the immense scientific resources at thier disposal, what, pray tell, do you know about fracking that they don’t?

    Plastic, BTW, is simply congealed hydrocarbon, and I’m sure somewhere in the process of constructing clothing from organic cotton (the main feedstock of fertilizer, BTW, is natural gas)

    YOu remind of those who eat like gluttons at the table, only to complain about what goes on inthe kitchen. You’re either a disengenous troll, illogical or ignorant (or combination thereof)

    Keeping Colorado beautiful and clean takes $$$ Holmz…..$1.6 BILLION in taxes were paid by industry in the state last year….oh yeah, there’s the matter of payroll, job multipliers, etc.

  7. jason
    November 22, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Patagonia is one of the few ethical garmet companies out there. I will continue to buy their high quality products.

  8. dale
    March 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    Oil and gas companies should be sued for negligence like tobacco companies. The definition of negligence is keeping doing something you know is causing mass destruction of the planet’s fragile eco-system. And I as a taxpayer don’t want to continue to pay for disasters because of climate chaos. Tired of these oil workers defending their destruction of the planet. We have the technology to change. We must tell politicians to stop taking money from corporations. The jobs will simply change to wind and solar just like when the oil lamp (unsafe as heck!) faded away because of the light bulb. Now you get to sell solar and wind instead… big deal. Go green. At least Earth will still be liveable instead of keeping doing what is going to kill us all….


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