California’s Patagonia Jumps into Campaign for Colorado Fracking Ban

December 12, 2013
The California clothing company whose products are made in part from petroleum, is backing a statewide fracking ban in Colorado

A California clothing company whose products are made in part from petroleum, is backing a statewide fracking ban in Colorado

DENVER—Patagonia, a California-based outdoor clothing company whose products are made in part from petroleum, is throwing its support behind the drive for a statewide Colorado fracking ban in 2014.

“We will continue to support grassroots movements that are pushing local, state and federal governments to ban or strictly regulate fracking in communities across the country,” said Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan in a letter released Wednesday. “That starts with a statewide ban in Colorado in 2014.”

The letter comes as the latest sign that Colorado’s anti-fracking movement, often described as a local and grassroots effort, is receiving help from wealthy environmentalists as it pushes for a statewide moratorium or ban on the November ballot.

Sheahan was responding to a November letter from five Republican state lawmakers who had asked him to consider “the damage your recent and ill-thought out anti-fracking campaign is doing to the people and economy of both our region and our state.”

The legislators—Randy Baumgardner, Steve King, Ray Scott, Bob Rankin and Jared Wright—were referring in part to an anti-fracking essay written by Sheahan and included in Patagonia’s summer catalog.

Scott said Patagonia’s plan to jump into   Colorado’s political arena shows that the state has once again become a springboard for national interests. He cited the involvement of national groups in pushing gun-control legislation passed by the state legislature in March.

“That’s the hidden truth about these efforts. It’s very easy to say these are local, but look what happened with the gun bills and Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg. That was local?” said Scott. “It’s just kind of interesting how these people can sit back and judge what happens in Colorado.”

Although his company is based in Ventura, Calif., Sheahan described himself as a “long-time resident of Carbondale, Colorado,” whose county is “home to nearly 10,000 gas wells.”

“Here’s what disturbs us about fracking: 632 chemicals are contained in fracking fluids, many of which are known to be toxic to humans and wildlife; several are known to cause cancer,” said Sheahan.

He added that “high levels of flammable methane gas have been detected in household drinking water in areas neighboring gas drilling sites,” an apparent reference to the scene in the anti-fracking movie Gasland that shows a Weld County homeowner lighting his kitchen faucet on fire.

That scene has been repeatedly debunked by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and others who say that the area has long contained high amounts of gas in the ground, and that locals were able to light their water on fire long before hydraulic fracturing entered the picture.

Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency have yet to detect contamination from fracking in groundwater, a point driven home a few years ago by Gov. John Hickenlooper when he famously drank a glass of fracking fluid.

“He [Sheahan] is just wildly making bizarre claims,” said Scott. “I’d like to see him turn off the heat at his house in Carbondale for a few days and see how that goes.”

The drive for a statewide ban follows the success of anti-fracking groups in passing moratoriums last month in three cities: Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette. A recount in a fourth city, Broomfield, is being challenged.

None of those communities has much if any oil-and-gas development taking place, but the votes have emboldened anti-fracking activists nationwide.

“The eyes of the country are watching how Colorado manages this challenge, and I believe we will rise to the occasion and set best practices that can be replicated nationwide,” said Sheahan.

Patagonia is known for its high-end outdoor clothing for skiers, snowboarders and other outdoors enthusiasts. The Patagonia catalog includes items made from petroleum-based materials like acrylic, nylon and polyester.

In the letter, the Republicans said that “a frac-free western Colorado would mean a largely Patagonia-free western Colorado,” noting that the “quality products you provide are, after all, luxury items for most people.”

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

Industry officials say that about 95 percent of wells use hydraulic fracturing, a process that lasts three to four days in the life of a 30-year well.

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

14 Responses to California’s Patagonia Jumps into Campaign for Colorado Fracking Ban

  1. George Washington
    December 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Well there’s another company I wont buy from. Stay out of our state politics.

    • John
      December 19, 2013 at 8:44 am

      He’s a home owner in the state. It’s his right.

    • January 9, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      I’m buying double.
      Love me some Patagonia!

  2. December 12, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Welp, time to do away with anything Patagonia. Dang, good stuff too.

  3. zippy-the-pinhead
    December 13, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Them foreigners from Houston, and Calgary and Tulsa OKLAHOMA coming here and drilling our…wait? Am I reading from the wrong script?

  4. KE Mayfield
    December 13, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Well I guess I won’t be buying Patagonia anymore. It joins a long list of businesses and products I don’t use for much of the same reasons.
    If a business wants to inject itself into politics, which they are free to do, I am free to respond accordingly.

  5. Hobbes
    December 13, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Is not almost everything they sell made from polyester or a polyester-type product? Is not polyester made from plastic? Is not plastic made from oil and gas?

    Wait. . . .

    Could they actually be trying to ban what mades their bread and butter?

  6. MacDaddyWatch
    December 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Frack you, Patagonia.

  7. Brian McFarlane
    December 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Undoubtedly, high efficiency natural gas-fired power stations can produce up to 70% lower “greenhouse gas emissions” than existing brown coal-fired generators, and less than half the greenhouse gas emissions of the latest technology of black coal-fired power stations.

    The glut of natural gas unleashed by hydraulic fracturing – and the resulting low prices – make it seem like a no-brainer: Ditch coal-fired electric plants, with all their baggage about air pollution and water consumption, and switch to natural gas.

    That’s starting to happen nationally, as natural gas has overtaken coal for generating electricity…
    Use of coal to generate electricity was down almost 18 percent for the first seven months of 2012, compared with the same period in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Natural gas use was up by 30 percent.

    Natural gas can be treated as a transition fuel on a possible path beyond fossil fuels. But so far “renewable” energy sources like solar and wind only produce around 2% of the nations energy.

    Banning “fracking” would greatly lessen the “glut” of natural gas supply and would derail the transition from relatively more coal power plants to relatively more natural gas power plants. At this time, and in the relative distant future, solar and/or wind are not a viable source for supplying anywhere near what is needed to supply our countries energy needs. In the meantime a rational trade-off using natural gas vs. coal powered plants will greatly reduce the “carbon footprint” from power plants, but the “anti-frackers” apparently seem to think that either we don’t need the natural gas being produced or that “renewables” can currently supply us with enough energy… renewables can’t now, or even in the next decade or two, renewables might not be viable EVER? We DO need the natural gas (or coal) and it is viable NOW. Banning “fracking” will only defeat what “enviros” are supposedly trying to reduce; CO2 emissions.

  8. Mark Johnson
    December 14, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Good for you Patagonia! Don’t be shy about your beliefs, no matter how stupid it makes your company look. Hopefully, you will be similarly confused when sitting around the conference room table, wondering why company sales are plummeting into the toilet. Like you, I can dream big. A chapter 11 announcement in the next year or two would be a nice headline….

    • January 9, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      Patagonia sales have increased year over year. Nice try though!

  9. December 15, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Patagonia is a company that has finessed the art of pandering to the pampered. Its recent attack on fracking is just more of the same.
    Casey Sheahan, the CEO of Patogonia, the ritzy outdoor clothing company built on selling things such as trendy “rain gear for an urban setting” for just $699 justannounced he’s in favor of a statewide fracking ban in Colorado. He’s making a fortune wearing the cloth of “environmental and social responsibility” to sell over-priced merchandise to the pampered, who are blithely unaware of the incongruity of a company branded on the appeal of the great outdoors marketing rain gear for city sidewalks.
    Sheahan’s really good at appealing to the guilty consciences of those who imagine they have done undeservedly well but don’t want to sacrifice any of it. He seduces them with shallow talk about how much better the world would be with them in charge to impose their utopian vision on the rest of us, subtly suggesting, of course, the first step might be buying a $45 t-shirt that carries their Live Simply© Guitar image. After all, it’s made with organic cotton that’s “not genetically modified in any way” and “screen-printed using PVC- and phthalate-free inks.” Who knew demonstrating your social consciousness and living simply were just one expensive t-shirt away?
    Continue reading →

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