Quantcast
Energy

Democracy at Its Best: Boulder County Extends Fracking Ban

“The time is always right to do the right thing.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

As I sat in the hearing room of the Boulder County Commissioner yesterday I witnessed citizen-led democracy in action.

In a unanimous vote, three Boulder Colorado County Commissioners voted to extend the moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the county for the next three-and-a-half years. The three Democratic party women not only voted against fracking until July 12018, they did so with strong language and gusto as tens-of-thousands of wells loom just across the border in neighboring Weld County waiting to invade the Boulder County landscape.

Commissioner Elise Jones, left, Chair Cindy Domenico, center and Vice Chair Deb Gardner following the Boulder County Board of County Commissioners reorganization hearing last year. Photo credit: Richard M. Hackett

Commissioner Cindy Domenico started off the discussion with references about the increasing concerns and impacts of fracking on the public’s health. Commissioner Deb Gardner followed up by pointing out how fracking is related to climate change, and how Boulder County wants to be at the forefront of protecting the planet for future generations. Commissioner Elise Jones batted cleanup and knocked it out of the park with a discussion about the “industrialization of well pads in suburban housing communities” that she witnessed during her fracking tours in Weld neighboring county.

For their action, the commissioners will likely get sued by the oil and gas industry. Encana, one of the biggest oil and gas driller/frackers in the U.S., has several well permits hanging in limbo in Boulder County, as do other drillers eyeing the “Niobrara Shale” that underlies this suburban landscape.

Encana, one of the biggest oil and gas drillers in the U.S., has several well permits hanging in limbo in Boulder County.

In nearby Longmont, a city within Boulder County, the oil and gas industry has already sued to try to force fracking down citizens’ throats, as they have in nearby Fort Collins, Broomfield and Lafayette. The fight against fracking continues to escalate in Colorado as citizens and their elected officials stand up against this powerful industry and its backers in Governor Hickenlooper’s office and beyond (Hickenlooper famously boasted to a U.S Senate Subcommittee that he drank fracking fluid).

It wasn’t always this way, even in Boulder County. Eighteen months ago, these same three Commissioner waffled and waxed, seemingly afraid to enact a long-term moratorium to fight this industry. It wasn’t until the will of the people—hundreds of people—rose up and created a citizen-led movement that gave the commissioners the backing to stand up and fight this industry. A few days ago, nearly a hundred people spoke at the Commissioners’ public hearing on this topic. Several groups formed to address the issue including Frack Free Colorado and East Boulder County United and then other groups like the Sierra Club jumped in to bolster the fences.

We’re seeing this citizen-led democracy against the powerful polluters in the fossil fuel industry rise up across the U.S. With people-power backing, these three Boulder County Commissioners even had the moxie to make the vote themselves rather than pushing it off to a vote of the people in the next election. Good for them!

Democracy gets in your blood when you see it happen. It’s uplifting, alive and a force of nature that makes the corporate zombies in the fossil fuel industry look like pawns on the battlefield of human history and justice.

We must keep fighting—every town, every county, every state and across the U.S. It’s our moment in history to do the right thing, and it feels great.

Gary Wockner, PhD, is an environmental activist in Colorado.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Fracking Support Plummets Among Americans

Why Dr. Evil Is Targeting Anti-Fracking Activists as ‘Big Green Radicals’

Groundbreaking Study Finds Cancer-Causing Air Pollution Near Fracking Sites

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Politics
Jess Lundgren / CC BY 2.0

The Trump Administration’s ‘Dishonest’ Attack on Fuel-Economy Standards

By John R. Platt

The Trump administration's plan to freeze fuel-economy standards is "the most spectacular regulatory flip-flop in history," said a retired EPA engineer who helped to develop new the standards under the Obama administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Lizzie Carr traveling down the Hudson River on her stand-up paddleboard. Max Guliani / The Hudson Project

Her Stand-Up Paddleboard Is a Platform for Campaigning Against Plastic Pollution

By Patrick Rogers

Lizzie Carr was navigating a stretch of the Hudson River north of Yonkers, New York, recently when she spotted it—a hunk of plastic so large and out of place that she was momentarily at a loss to describe it.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
The Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales. Michael Van Woert, NOAA

Scientists Study Ice Shelf by Listening to Its Changing Sounds

By Marlene Cimons

Researchers monitoring vibrations from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf were flabbergasted not long ago to hear something unexpected—the ice was "singing" to them. "We were stunned by a rich variety of time-varying tones that make up this newly described sort of signal," said Rick Aster, professor of geosciences at Colorado State University, one of the scientists involved in the study.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
DSLRVideo.com / Flicker / CC BY-SA 2.0

'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates For First Time in Its History

Outdoor brand Patagonia is endorsing candidates for the first time in its history in an effort to protect the country's at-risk public lands and waters.

The civic-minded retailer is backing two Democrats in two crucial Senate races: the re-election of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana; and Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Desert Bighorn Sheep in Joshua Tree National Park. Kjaergaard / CC BY 3.0

Leaked Trump Administration Memo: Keep Public in Dark About How Endangered Species Decisions Are Made

In a Trump administration memorandum leaked to the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is directing its staff to withhold, or delay releasing, certain public records about how the Endangered Species Act is carried out. That includes records where the advice of career wildlife scientists may be overridden by political appointees in the Trump administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Disposable diapers add staggering amounts of waste to landfills. Pxhere

Dirty Diapers Could Be Recycled Into Fabrics, Furniture Under P&G Joint Venture

Disposal diapers can take an estimated 500 years to decompose. That means if Henry VIII wore disposables, they'd probably still be around today.

Although throwaway nappies are undoubtedly convenient, these mostly-synthetic items cause never-ending steams of waste that will take centuries to disappear.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
The swelling barrier lake after a landslide forced evacuations along the Yarlung Zangbo River. YouTube screenshot / CCTV+

6,000 Evacuated After Tibet Landslide

Six thousand people have been evacuated after a landslide in Tibet Wednesday blocked a river that flows downstream into India, creating a lake that could cause major flooding in the subcontinent once the debris is cleared, The Associated Press reported.

Chinese emergency officials announced the evacuations Thursday. The landslide impacted a village in Menling County, but no one was killed or injured, Chinese officials said.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Carbon Capture: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Climate Change

By Daniel Ross

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report lays out a rather grim set of observations, predictions and warnings. Perhaps the biggest takeaway? That the world cannot warm more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) over pre-industrial levels without significant impacts.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!