Top 10 Most Ridiculous Stunts Pulled Out West by “Ban Fracking” Activists in 2017
Energy In Depth | Rebecca Simmons | Dec. 29, 2017
In Colorado and across the west, there is overwhelming bipartisan support for responsible oil and gas development. It’s no wonder, therefore, that “Keep It In the Ground” are left with only bad theater, political stunts, and threats to make their case in the west. As we close out 2017, here’s a quick recap of the 10 most outrageous “ban fracking” stunts ranked by most ridiculous to still pretty ridiculous.
#1 Boulder anti-fracking activists protest the “Wrong Door”
Knock knock. Who’s there? Not Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones, because she doesn’t live here. That’s what happened earlier this year when anti-fracking activists staged a nearly hour-long protest at the wrong house in Boulder, Colo. This fiasco takes the cake as the top 2017 anti-fracking stunt that will never be lived down by these “Keep It in the Ground” groups.
Source: East Boulder County United Facebook. Click here to see the video.
But no, wait there’s more from this group…
As if the “Wrong Door” protest wasn’t bad enough, the same group of activists staged a tone deaf “die-in” targeting – yet again – the once-praised Jones, who has now found herself on the anti-fracking group’s political hit list. And, if you haven’t heard of a “die-in” before, as strange is it seems – this is actually a common protest tactic used by “Keep It in the Ground” groups.
The Daily Caller was the first to break the story about the tone deaf and untimely “die-in” protest, which was held less than two days after the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Below are some details and photos of the “Wrong Door” anti-fracking activists’ theatrics. From the East Boulder County United (EBCU) press release:
“In order to visually illustrate the lethal nature of fracking and to emphasize the critical nature of the immediate fracking crisis, community members staged a ‘die-in’ form of protest. People simulated the deaths caused by fracking pollution and oil/gas explosions by lying on the hearing room floor with cardboard tombstones. The tombstones were painted with anti-fracking messages including: R.I.P. Open Space, Fracking Killed Me, Died so Oil + Gas Execs Could Get Rich, R.I.P. Clean Air, COGCC Killed Me, R.I.P. Clean Water, Here Lies Polluted Open Space, Fracking Kills, Greedy Frackers Killed Me, etc.”
#3 Then there was the Ohio Roadshow
Considering they have secured the top three spots on our top-10 list so far, it’s pretty clear that 2017 was all about “bad PR is good PR” for these Boulder fracktivists. Par for the course, Lafayette City Council Member Merrily Mazza (a press contact for EBCU) skipped what you would think is a more important city council meeting in favor of taking a 3,281-mile round trip to Ohio for a speaking tour to market her “success” in Colorado. As our EID team in Ohio discovered, she was actually touting the passage of Lafayette’s “Climate Bill of Rights.” Ironically, both Mazza and her son Cliff Willmeng were not exactly thrilled about the measure that passed earlier this year, calling it “toothless.” But that clearly didn’t hold Mazza back from her “Community Rising” speaking tour in Ohio where she shamelessly promoted her heralded victory of passing the “toothless,” “unenforceable” and “unconstitutional” “Climate Bill of Rights” she championed in Lafayette.
Meanwhile, while Mazza was playing hooky in Ohio, the Boulder Daily Camera reported on a moratorium vote in Lafayette:
“Lafayette may be primed to halt new oil and gas development on the eve of wide scale fracking plans slated for Boulder County. Officials on Tuesday evening tabled a decision until later this month, citing the need for more communication and the presence of all the council members before any decision can be made. Councilwoman Merrily Mazza, who said she would vote “no” on a moratorium last week, was absent.”
Now something to keep in mind, when the Climate Bill of Rights first passed in early 2017, Mazza told the Boulder Daily Camera, “it technically bans fracking in the city limits as a violation to our fundamental rights, but it will be up to whatever local attorney to make some feeble attempt (to uphold it).”
With that said, what makes this a fracktivist fail is the fact that Mazza made her speaking tour in Ohio a top priority and left her anti-fracking supporters back in Lafayette with a false sense of security in the “symbolic” and “toothless” “Climate Bill of Rights.”
#4 That awkward moment when anti-fracking activist don’t have their facts straight
It was no surprise to see D.C.-based national anti-fracking group Food & Water Watch (F&WW) at basically all of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) meetings this year. Also not surprising was the outrageous performance given by the following F&WW operative during the November COGCC meeting in Denver.
Source: Energy in Depth
During the November meeting, the above pictured F&WW operative passed around medical masks and instructed other activists to decorate their masks with anti-fracking rhetoric meant to symbolize the “toxic” air in Colorado caused by what one reporter called “oil fracking,” whatever that is.
Source: CBS4 Denver
Decorating masks and wearing them at a public meeting and expecting to be taken seriously is odd, but what was even more embarrassing for these activists is the fact that they cited several debunked studies and misinterpreted reports during public comment. See below for a few examples.
One activist referenced the American Lung Association’s (ALA) annual air quality reports, which have long been debunked not only by Energy In Depth, but by state air regulators, EPA officialsand the local news media.
In fact, back in 2014, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) warned that the ALA’s air quality report card was “both inaccurate and misrepresents air quality in Colorado.”
In a 2015 follow-up interview with Energy In Depth, CDPHE Air Pollution Control Division Director Will Allison revealed that the ALA report card ignored a full year of air quality data from 2014, which shows ozone levels getting better, not worse. For then-ALA of Colorado vice president Cindy Liverance to claim there’s higher ozone now than back in the 1970s also ignores decades of air quality data that show “it’s gotten a lot better,” according to Allison.
This clap back at ALA isn’t unique to Colorado. Widespread criticism of the ALA reports has poured in from across the country in recent years from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s editorial board, as well as government agencies and regulators like EPA Region 7, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Maryland Department of the Environment, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services. Consensus shows that ALA is misleading the public by misrepresenting information in an effort to advance its agenda. Nevertheless, anti-fracking activists continue to rely on these reports, despite the fact that ALA’s data is faulty and inaccurately aggregated.
Fracktivists exploited a conveniently timed National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) report. The morning of the November COGCC meeting, the Boulder Daily Camera reported just 35 minutes before the meeting started that a “new air quality report” had been released that same day by Boulder’s NCAR. Coincidentally, news of the “new report” came out around the same time that nearly 60 anti-fracking elected officials and activists were lining up at the doors and signing up to give public comment for the 9 a.m. COGCC meeting.
The $3.5 million NCAR study ($2 million of which came courtesy of the state of Colorado) was used by several anti-fracking activists to line their comments with citable “facts” during COGCC’s public comment period. But despite the last ditch effort to sprinkle in “facts” they found in the Monday morning Boulder Daily Camera NCAR study article, activists failed to include a couple of key nuggets of information while referencing the NCAR study. First of all, it was actually released in July. And there was also no mention of background ozone — which is discussed extensively in the NCAR report — during the public comment period. Background ozone is a very important factor impacting the Front Range, as the Denver Business Journal accurately reported:
“Denver has a background ozone level of about 40-50 parts per billion (ppb) that is generated by numerous sources outside of the region, according to the NCAR report.”
To the Boulder Daily Camera’s credit, it did end up adding this essential information on background ozone to Monday morning’s story on the NCAR report following the meeting:
“Rebecca Simons, a writer for the blog Energy in Depth, launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said that the industry has made strides in reducing emissions. ‘We certainly face unique challenges due to background ozone, which is the single largest contributor to ground-level ozone overall,’ Simons wrote in a statement. ‘Nevertheless, as a result of state and federal regulations already on the books, and the innovations taking place in the field, ozone has dramatically decreased, even as oil and gas production has soared in Colorado.’”
#5 Anti-fracking activists are multi-faceted. Not only can they put on lively theatrical performances, but some of them can sing!
You’ve been warned, watching this video may result in this song being stuck in your head, as it is quite catchy.
Source: Energy in Depth Youtube Channel