Phillip Doe, a Colorado activist involved in the Loveland anti-fracking fight, hurled insults at Nikkel in an article posted Friday in Counterpunch, a left-wing website, after hearing her speak at a rally.
“For some reason after Nikkel and her folks got done speaking, I kept thinking of Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and how big lies gain acceptance,” said Doe in his article, “Lies, Damned Lies and Fracking Lies.”
Doe also referred to the “many whoppers dutifully trotted out like a trained talking dog” by Nikkel, whose remarks came at an event sponsored by opponents of Question 1, an initiative that would place a two-year moratorium on fracking in Loveland.
In an interview with the Colorado Observer, Nikkel said she’s developed a thick skin after years in the state legislature, and as a result didn’t take the insults too seriously.
“I’ve gone through a lot worse,” she said with a laugh.
But she pointed out that Doe’s article wasn’t free of factual errors, starting with her job title. Doe identified her as the director of Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, which she’s not.
Nikkel serves as campaign manager for the Loveland Energy Action Project, which is fighting Question 1. The citywide election on the measure is June 24.
“They can’t even get right a simple fact like my job title right, but they expect people to trust them on the facts,” said the Republican Nikkel.
Protect Our Loveland, the group backing Question 1, has hosted Doe and Wes Wilson at several events in the past year, referring to them on Facebook as “two esteemed experts in the area of hydraulic fracturing.”
Wilson drew headlines in April when he compared the economic benefits of oil and gas development to those of slavery.
“When the anti-energy activists embrace guys like Wilson and Doe and hold them up as highly esteemed experts, it tells you a lot,” said Simon Lomax, Denver-based spokesman for Energy In Depth, an industry-backed research and advocacy group.
“This kind of angry and extreme rhetoric may seem completely out of order, especially in a local election,” said Lomax. “But it’s perfectly in line with the angry and extreme political beliefs of the national activist organizations and ultra-rich donors who are quietly running these ‘ban fracking’ campaigns in cities and towns across Northern Colorado. They desperately need these local wins to jumpstart their campaign to ban oil and natural gas production across Colorado and the rest of the nation.”
Doe also cited a report by the Colorado School of Public Health that he says “found residents within a half-mile of a fracking site were at greater risk for cancer than the general population, and that birth defects were also higher within ten miles of fracking operations.”
He was apparently referring to a widely criticized CSPH study released in January study that said nothing about cancer and “showed only association, not causation, and the statistical differences in birth defects were miniscule,” according to the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Larry Wolk.
In fact, the study also found that pregnant women in Garfield County living near fracking sites were less likely to give birth prematurely. Wolk noted that other factors associated with birth defects, such the women’s ages and whether they drank or smoked, weren’t included in the study.
A previous CSPH study released in 2012 on air pollution from drilling sites in Garfield County found “non-cancer health impacts” were greater for those living near rigs during the completion process, which typically lasts about a month in the life of a 30-year well.
The Nation, a left-wing political publication, and Vanity Fair have described Counterpunch as a “radical website.”
“People like this use deception and misinformation, and then resort to name-calling because they have no facts to back them up,” said Nikkel.