Communities gathered in response to Secretary of State’s decision on fracking ballot initiatives, photos below
Denver, CO — Last night, anti-fracking advocates gathered in Denver and Boulder following Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ announcement that two initiatives to curb fracking and protect communities did not qualify for the November ballot. At City Park in Denver and Chautauqua Park in Boulder, supporters of the initiatives carried banners and a parachute reading “Protect Colorado, Stop Fracking” and listened as speakers at the two events lauded the community-led effort to protect health and safety over fracking. The two initiatives, 75 and 78, would permit local control over oil and gas development in the state and provide mandatory setbacks for fracking.
“This year, we’ve come incredibly close to putting fracking on our state’s ballot — one of the most challenging feats our movement has taken on — and we’re not backing down now,” said Michaela Mujica-Steiner, Colorado Statewide Organizer with 350 Action. “The fossil fuel industry spent millions trying to stop us from getting here, but we overcame their deception and intimidation tactics by telling the truth: that fracking threatens the health and safety of our communities and our climate. We may not make it on the ballot this November, but we are letting politicians and candidates in Colorado know that fracking is a major issue this election, and it will continue to be one for the officials we elect into office.”
Speakers at City Park in Denver included Gina Hardin, Board Chair of 350 Colorado, and Makala Maclagan with 350 Action. At Chautauqua Park in Boulder, Russell Mendell of Frack Free Colorado and Tricia Olson, Executive Director of Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED), addressed the crowd of supporters. Residents of Fort Collins will gather on Tuesday, September 6th, at 6:30 p.m. in Fossil Creek Park to show support for the initiatives.
“An incredible group of people did something no one believed was possible. Everyone here — you are a part of the single biggest ballot initiative campaign to stop fracking in history,” said Russell Mendell of Frack Free Colorado, addressing the crowd at Chautauqua Park. “No one believed we could create such a groundswell of a movement coming from no money, coming from a small volunteer base, and growing in such a short period of time to where the industry is as scared of us as anything. More than ever Coloradans are committed to protecting the health and safety of their communities.”
Secretary Williams’ announcement came after the “Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking” coalition submitted more than 200,000 signatures supporting initiatives 75 and 78 last month. Though the coalition submitted more than the required amount of signatures to qualify, the Secretary of State’s office cited the review of a random sample from the total amount submitted in its decision on the initiatives. The coalition has 30 days to appeal Secretary William’s decision in the Denver District Court.
“Fracking is a serious danger, not only to the people in the homes, schools, and hospitals less than a block’s distance from fracking wells in our state, but to the future of our climate,” said Gina Hardin, Board Chair of 350 Colorado. “Colorado is experiencing climate change right now, from the shortening of the ski season upon which much of our economy is based; the beetle kill that has ravaged much of our forests and scenery; and record wildfires, droughts and floods in the last few years. For any chance of curbing these impacts and preventing worse, we have to stop fracking and keep fossil fuels in the ground. The power and support we’ve built here over the past few months shows that we can make this happen.”
Fossil fuel companies have given nearly 90 percent of the $15 million in contributions received by the campaign against initiatives 75 and 78. Anadarko Petroleum Corp and Noble Energy Inc alone gave $10.5 million to efforts discouraging Coloradans from signing to put fracking on the ballot. The American Petroleum Institute also funded consulting work for the Vote No on 75/78 campaigns.
In May, as part of a global wave of action to Break Free from fossil fuels, hundreds of people protested an auction of public lands for fracking in Lakewood, Colorado. Days later, several hundred people gathered in Thornton, Colorado, to shut down a fracking site located across the street from a school and residential homes. Following these actions, the “Yes for Health And safety Over Fracking” coalition collected the more than 200,000 signatures in support of initiatives 75 and 78, which were submitted to the Secretary of State earlier in August.
Photos by Chris Allred:
Contact: Dani Heffernan, 350 Action, (305) 992-1544