National Green Groups Work Behind the Scenes in Local Fracking Fights

May 29, 2014
By

LOVELAND — Protect Our Loveland bills itself as a homegrown, grassroots campaign run by ordinary folks, but so far Colorado’s local anti-fracking drives haven’t been quite as local as they claim.

Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, Frack Free Colorado and Moveon.org were among those who contributed to some or all of last year’s so-called citizens’ anti-fracking initiatives in Boulder, Broomfield and Fort Collins, according to campaign-finance reports filed with the city clerks.

All three ballot measures won in the November election, despite being outspent by the oil and gas industry and pro-business groups. A fourth anti-corporate initiative in Lafayette also passed after receiving help from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund in Mercersburg, Pa.

Former state Rep. B.J. Nikkel, who headed the campaign against Broomfield’s Question 300 and now leads the fight against Loveland’s Question 1, says national environmental groups have set up shop in Colorado to help push local fracking bans.

“They bring these people in, and of course they recruit local people that they can use as their face to try to make it appear locally sponsored when in fact, it’s really not. Behind the scenes, it’s heavily subsidized,” said Nikkel.

Loveland’s Question 1 calls for a two-year moratorium to “fully study” hydraulic fracturing, even though the city enacted a nine-month moratorium in 2012 to devise oil and gas regulations. The mail-in election is June 24.

Advocates say a “timeout” is needed before the city considers permits for a handful of wells on the outskirts of town, while opponents argue that fracking is safe and, what’s more, Loveland has neither the resources nor expertise to “fully study” the issue.

Sharon Carlisle, spokeswoman for Protect Our Loveland (POL), declined to say whether the campaign for Question 1 has received outside help. The first campaign-finance report isn’t due until June 10, 14 days before the June 24 special election.

“We’re a grassroots group,” said Carlisle. “That’s one of the things that the opposition has been putting forth: ‘Oh, we’re getting thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.’ Oh, come on.”

But Nikkel, executive director of the Loveland Energy Action Project [LEAP], says the fingerprints of national environmental groups are already visible in Loveland.

For example, Frack Free Colorado, which was founded in 2012 by California-based Patagonia and national activist groups Vibrant Planet, Conscious Global Leadership, Water Defense, Artists Against Fracking and others, boasted on its website that it helped qualify ballot measures in Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins, Lafayette–and Loveland.

Frack Free Colorado’s Event Calendar lists “canvass in Loveland” every Tuesday and Saturday afternoon until the election.

“We’re already seeing Sierra Club involved in the Loveland campaign,” said Nikkel. “They’ve come out and announced they’re endorsing the Protect Our Loveland effort. So yeah, they’re involved, and it’s no surprise to me.”

LEAP recently sponsored a screening of the pro-fracking documentary “FrackNation,” but beforehand, Nikkel said the Sierra Club sent out alerts encouraging fracking foes to attend.

“They’re obviously working together,” said Nikkel. “I’m sure same is true of Frack Free Colorado and Food and Water Watch. All of these organizations have established Colorado offices for the purpose of trying to enact these fracking bans.”

Is Protect Our Loveland receiving funding from national groups? “We’re not getting thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. We are hopefully going to be getting some support, but most of our support is grassroots, local support,” said Carlisle.

LEAP has clearly received funding from the energy industry, but the source of the group’s funding is no secret. That’s not the case with POL.

“Our issue committee report is going to come out when theirs does, I’m sure they’ll be able to see where we’ve been getting our funding,” said Carlisle.

That local label can be a powerful campaign tool. For example, the Loveland City Council voted 5-4 to oppose Question 1 at its May 20 meeting, but during the late-night debate, at least two councilors said they disagreed with taking a position against what they described as a citizen-based movement.

Councilor Ralph Trenary said Question 1 “has come from the citizens of Loveland, not from some outside political body,” while councilor Phil Farley said, “Somehow we’re asked to take the position against what the citizens have recommended.”

Simon Lomax, Denver-based spokesman for Energy In Depth, an industry-backed research and advocacy group, said, “The anti-energy activists work very hard to put a local face on these campaigns, but don’t be fooled.”

“The real money, the real muscle and the real political agenda is coming from fringe environmental groups and ultra-rich donors in Washington, New York and San Francisco,” he said.

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

8 Responses to National Green Groups Work Behind the Scenes in Local Fracking Fights

  1. UBG
    May 29, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Dear Luddites,

    True “local control” is at the individual (property owner’s) level.

    UBG

  2. June 2, 2014 at 8:04 am

    This is the usual Industry misinformation and hype and Energy in Depth is also touting that we activists are funded by ultra rich and outside groups; We are not ; our citizen groups in Pa. are also accused by the Fossil Fuel Industry fronts and lobby; Energy in Depth is an informational and blogging organization which openly states they are funded and paid to blog by the fossil fuel industry; now they call us “anti-energy activists” ? !! where did that come from; We are for safe and sustainable and non-polluting energy; more Industry maligning of US citizens seeking to protect themselves and their environment; Instead they promote a non-US citizen Irishman who produced and filmed FrackNation movie and which shows only the good side of gas drilling and any opposition is maligned and defamed. This is their strategy, to defame any who oppose this industry and the ones who are out front most strongly, are defamed the most, like myself. You can look up our citizen groups and individuals and see our income information and see that we are ordinary citizens doing what we believe is right and necessary to save ourselves from this polluting industry. We have US organizations like Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Food and Water Watch that support the premise of no fossil fuels but sustainable energies; they agree with us; doesn’t mean they back us financially, but support us and offer supporting documentation to show the dangers of gas drilling/fracking. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry spends millions in lobbying in Washington and US States to promote their energy and disavow any problems or dangers.

    • James Brotherton
      June 2, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Ms. Scroggins, I think you make your point for them. You don’t live in Colorado. You’re a known anti-fracking activist from Pennsylvania who led the likes of Yoko Ono, Susan Sarandon and others on a propaganda tour of PA. You like to talk about industry ties as a way to make a point, because you are not a scientist and really have little to contribute in a technical discussion.

      • Scott Cannon
        June 2, 2014 at 5:23 pm

        Propaganda? Listening to people who are affected by gas drilling is propaganda? Sorry Jim, it’s called reality. You really have little to contribute to any conversation about fracking.

    • Tom Costell
      June 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      To Vera and all of those opposed to fracking: Full Disclosure – I’m in the business, no secrets here. Have you turned off all your lights, shut down your furnace, air conditioner, parked your car permanently? How did you get on the internet? Oh, energy, I forgot. Ms. Scroggins, unless you can plaster every roof in Pennsylvania with solar panels by this afternoon, you’re in trouble. We all need energy…today! Thanks to domestic natural gas, we’re cutting CO2 levels dramatically from coal fired plants, and providing hundreds of thousands of Good Paying domestic jobs, most of which cannot be out-sourced, not to mention the multiplier effect of those dollars being spent in local businesses. The only Big Oil is the few guys in the boardrooms, but there are thousands of people like me, working hard and paying our bills (and taxes), providing one of the only bright spots in this non-recovery! Colorado has the most stringent regulations in the nation when it comes to oil and gas drilling. There are no open pools anymore, the process involves a closed loop system with sealed tanks. No one’s getting hurt. Speaking of getting hurt, why aren’t we shutting down all hospitals and clinics? Per the AMA, over 300,000 people die annually from medical accidents. With those odds, who wants to step foot in those places? We do because we as a society, we have accepted it as a necessary risk. How many people can you document that have been hurt by fracking? None other than Obama’s EPA has formally stated that there is no evidence of fracking contaminating any wells anywhere, despite dozens if not hundreds of tests. I’m not against solar or wind…but the NIMBY’s are. There have been several wind, solar and wave projects shut down by groups who say, oh yeah, we want it but Not In My Backyard! There’s a middle ground but you can’t see it. Natural Gas is a bridge fuel to get to the next Big Thing, but we need it today.

  3. Scott Cannon
    June 2, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    I work with a group of dedicated anti frackers called the Gas Drilling Awareness coalition here in NE PA. We have successfully kept 2 compressor stations and 2 frackwater treatment facilities from being built in our county. We see no money from these deep pocketed environmental rich people this article is speaking about. They are lying in order to demonize people who care about clean water and air. We have fundraisers and ask for small donations from the public to fund our efforts. The movement is truly grass roots unlike the fake gas roots PR spin the gas industry pulls on a regular basis.

  4. Bill
    June 4, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Rep BJ is a lier! Shameless

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