By Jason Schwartz
What would you do if one day you woke up and the water in your well was a brown, viscous mess?
That's what happened to Tachia Sandoval almost 20 years ago. She came from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Las Animas County, Colorado, in the 1990s, getting away from decades in the city to live on the land and get back to her country roots. She found a beautiful piece of land with a modest house that she made into the home of her dreams, a place for her and her many animals to roam, and some space to spend more time making the art and jewelry that give her life balance.
But not a year had passed before the fracking started all around her. Dozens of roads to hundreds of wells went up. The sound of rumbling trucks replaced what had once been silence. And the water went foul. Now, Tachia spends many hours each week hauling water to and from her land.
Colorado has been overrun by the oil and gas industry in the last few decades. It is one of the most fracked states in the country, with tens of thousands of active wells dotting the once pristine landscape, roads to and from them stretching across the land like thin scars. The oil and gas industry eyes it as a growth opportunity, sending tens of millions of out of state dollars into Colorado's political system to buy the legislation it wants.
Just last summer, Greenpeace stood shoulder to shoulder with the grassroots anti-fracking activists of Colorado in trying to get some commonsense rules on the books. One initiative would allow communities like Tachia's to democratically say no to fracking. Another would set fracking wells at a reasonable distance from important town infrastructure, like schools, hospitals and homes.
.@GreenpeaceUSA 'Don't Let BIG $ Rig Our #Democracy': Vote No on Amendment 71 https://t.co/vyULUuXkt5 @joshfoxfilm @MarkRuffalo @FrackAction— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1476991527.0
We met Tachia during last summer's fight and are humbled that she helped us tell her story.
Protecting water from the oil and gas industry is a growing concern.
Just as Indigenous communities have come together to stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens a major water supply, so too are communities coming together to protect their groundwater from fracking. But in states like Colorado, where a weakening industry and its cronies have to buy the political system to remain viable, it can feel like an uphill battle.
What can you do? You can make climate change, renewable energy and the protection of local communities a decisive issue this November. Help elect local, state and national politicians who do not have ties to the oil and gas industry.
And if you live in Colorado, vote against Ballot Question 71, also known as Raise the Bar. The oil and gas industry, along with its friends, has pumped millions into this measure, which would effectively make placing measures on the state ballot nearly impossible, unless you too have millions of dollars to burn. Many news outlets have come out against the ballot, including the paper of record, which isn't known as particularly unfriendly to the oil and gas industry.
Tachia is one of thousands of Coloradans out there campaigning against 71. And we're with them.
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By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.