John Fryar | Times Call | 09.11.17
Anti-fracking activists wrote a news release about a demonstration they staged Sunday outside a Marine Street residence in Boulder that they thought was the home where Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones lives.
Jones does not live there, though, and said on Monday that while she’s one of the owners of the property on the 700 block of Marine Street, she hasn’t lived there for several years.
In a news release, an organization identifying itself as Boulder County Protectors said about 50 community members had marched “on a home of politically compromised Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones asking her to resign.”
After being sent a copy of the news release, however, Jones — who now lives in the 1100 block of Sixth Street in Boulder — said in a Sunday night email that the protesters “went to a house I haven’t lived in for almost five years.
“Happily, no one was at home, but as you might imagine, the current residents were very confused when they came home to find an oil drum in the driveway and threatening chalk messages drawn up and down the sidewalk and the steps to the house,” Jones wrote.
“I went over to apologize and to try and clean everything up,” she said.
Jones said on Monday that while “we all object to fracking” — the process of injecting a mixture of sand, chemicals and water to free up underground oil and gas deposits — she objected to anti-fracking demonstrations that trespass onto private properties.
Cliff Willmeng, of East Boulder County United, one of the groups with members at the Sunday demonstration, acknowledged on Monday afternoon that they’d thought Jones lived at the address in the 700 block of Marine Street but discovered after gathering there that she does not.
That wasn’t mentioned in East Boulder County United’s Facebook posts about the demonstration. But he countered on Monday that even if Jones no longer lives at the Marine Street house, “She owns it.”
The anti-frackers’ photos showed people in hazardous-materials garb rolling oil barrel props on the street as they marched, according to the news release, “to place pressure on Elise Jones, in hopes that it would illuminate her pro-fracking ‘environmentalism’ to the Boulder community.”
The event included one demonstrator posing as Jones and another posing as a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission executive.
Anti-fracking groups have criticized Jones and her fellow county commissioners for not adopting a “Climate Bill of Rights” or advancing such a measure to county voters’ ballots.
Among its other provisions, the proposed Climate Bill of Rights would assert that county residents have “a right to a healthy climate, which shall include the right to be free from all activities that interfere with that right, including the extraction of coal, oil or gas, or disposal of drilling waste within the County of Boulder.”
Boulder County commissioners, however, have said they have no legal standing to ignore state laws and Colorado Supreme Court decisions prohibiting local governments from banning oil and gas exploration within those governments’ jurisdiction — and that a Climate Bill of Rights would not give the county authority to do so.
In a statement that activists said was read outside the Boulder home, they accused Jones of having “built a career out of collaborating with extraction.” The activists cited a 2011 article in which she suggested that natural gas could be an important bridge from fossil fuels to renewable-energy production, and they criticized her for having met with oil and gas industry representatives.
Jones said: “It’s my policy, and always has been as an elected official, to meet with anybody who asks.”
She said she’d had one meeting with oil and gas industry representatives in the past year and met 20 times with people opposed to fracking.
Willmeng said on Monday afternoon that his group and the other demonstrators thought they’d taken their protests to the right Boulder home because it’s listed on public records as being owned by Jones.
He said that “if community members mistake an address, we can always go back and fix it,” but if the county commissioners and the oil and gas industry make a mistake, “homes blow up and people die.”
Jones said: “I have dedicated my entire working career to protecting the environment, and I continue to do so as a commissioner.”
Anti-frackers also held demonstrations earlier this year outside Commissioner Cindy Domenico’s Lafayette home and Commissioner Deb Gardner’s Longmont home.