This November, against all odds, the town of Longmont, Colorado, passed the first Fracking ban in Colorado. This ballot initiative was necessary because when the city council passed a ban in the summer, 'Democratic' Governor Hickenlooper threatened to sue the city to overturn it. Hickenlooper has sided with the Oil and Gas industry on every occasion, even cutting a commercial for the Industry which stated there were 'no instances of contamination' from Fracking. Then, the Governor signed an Executive Order creating an Industry friendly task force that takes away the rights of local communities to regulate fracking. Undeterred, the people of Longmont turned to the Ballot Box and put the question to the Longmont voters. Against enormous political pressure, the people of Longmont won, and now the industry-funded Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) is suing the city over the voter-approved ban. This is ground zero because this fight pits establishment politicians, even Democrats, aligned with the Oil and Gas industry, against the people who live in the communities who are endangered by fracking. If the Colorado Oil and Gas Industry wins their lawsuit it will most like be appealed to Federal court or even to the Supreme Court. How will our President side on this issue? In support of the citizens of Longmont and to inform and encourage other communities in Colorado, the grassroots group Be the Change held a rally and performance event in Boulder on December 2nd. Environmental Activists rallied in Colorado in solidarity with the City of Longmont. Present was Bill McKibben of 350.org, Josh Fox of 'Gasland', Wes Wilson - Wes Wilson, former environmental engineer with the EPA, Phil Doe of Be the Change (CO), and Michael Belmont of the Longmont activists who helped pass the ballot measure. There were activist groups like Mothers for Sustainability and the Sierra Club. Musical performances included Josh Fox, Laura Goldhammer, Earth Guardians, Elephant Revival, Pressure Point and Kunundrum. Listen to the speakers and the bands lead the charge for support for the citizens of Longmont, and everyone opposed to fracking in this video here, with quotes from the speakers below.
Josh Fox of Gasland
It was really good to see that pledge of resistance going around, and with a few thousand names on that (pledge) it will be harder for the powers that be to ignore what's going on. We watched 1200 people arrested in Washing last year. It was enough at least to temporarily slow down this big Tar Sands pipeline - the Keystone pipeline.... All these fights are coming together in great ways. And I am so grateful to you all for the work you are doing.
Michael Belmont -emcee and Longmont Activist with 'Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont' (10 minute mark)
I entered this fracking fray because of a deep concern that the American Democratic process is being sold to the highest bidder... But the Giant doesn't always win. In spite of a bullying Governor, a trillion dollar industry who threw half a million dollars at us, and seven former mayors of Longmont that opposed our efforts, the ordinary people of Longmont prevailed. On November 6, 2012, in Longmont, Colorado,against all odds and in the face of oppressive state laws, 60 percent of the voters from virtually all political persuasions reclaimed their constitutional right to health, safety and wellness by prohibiting the dangerous industrial operations of Fracking and the disposal of its toxic waste in our city limits.
Wes Wilson of the EPA: (22 minute mark)
Lisa McKenzie of the Colorado School of Public Health showed in her studies that if your live within 1/2 mile of a gas well, you were more likely to have cancer and other illness.... So the science is now in. We know that fracking wells poisons people nearby.We can't allow this to continue.
Josh Fox of Gasland: (35 minute mark)
I don't think Obama wins this state without Boulder. I don't think (Governor) Hickenlooper doesn't win this state without the people like you going to bat for him. And if he is coming out there and saying to you 'Well were going to sue you for defending your health.' (boos) I mean this is an outrageous position for a Governor to be taking. For citizens to be democratically organized and standing up for your rights and saying 'We don't want the Fossil Fuel Industry, the chemical contamination and the lies of the 19th century... and 20th century in our future. We are going to defend our sanctity of our health, defend the character of our homes, defend the character of our towns... and then the Governor takes sides against the citizenship and sues them!?! (BOOS) I mean this to me seems to be an untenable political position if you are loud enough....
Our fate in New York is also tied to what you guys decide to do... We need you badly... California, which has an enormous shale, the Monterrey Shale which stretches from East of San Francisco to East of Los Angeles and over the entire Central Valley - the Agricultural Breadbasket and almond bakset and artichoke basket of the United States, is in direct conflict for water, land and territory with the Oil and Gas industry and that's coming... If we can find a way to make Colorado a base of support, I think we are going to be able to help all of those fights.
Other Notable Quotes: Sonia Skakich Skrima - founder of What the Frack?!
I tell people that this is not just the Oil and Gas industry Fracturing for Natural Gas. They are Fracturing our water, they are Fracturing our representative democracy, they are Fracturing our health, all for profits.
Angela Monti of Mothers for Sustainability (47 minute mark)
Colorado is moving in the direction of the so called 'New Energy Economy'. Many elected officials, state agencies and state environmental leaders... public universities are collaborating with the Oil and Gas industry to develop Colorado's Natural gas reserves, thereby committing Colorado to decades of Hydraulic Fracturing. In 2010 under the leadership of Governor Ritter, and with the support of several state level environmental organizations, the state legislature passed the Orwellian and erroneously named Clean Air, Clean Jobs act making Colorado the first state in the nation to pass a fuel switching bill. It requires Public Utilities to transition some of their units to Natural Gas and requires it must be produced here in Colorado, effectively mandating Hydraulic Fracturing in Colorado.
The musicians were concerned and outspoken as well. The Earth Guardian's singer Mr. Martinez - who gives me a lot of hope from the younger generation:
I went to Washington, D.C. and filed a lawsuit against the state of Colorado and against our country for not protecting our atmosphere, and our air, and our water. (it's filed) on behalf of the Our Children's Trust campaign that says all the water, the air and the Earth is to be protected for future generations to come... We are filing in all 50 states to reduce our carbon emissions....and we actually won in Texas in New Mexico, so they are lowering their carbon emissions every year and are now planting trees...
The group Pressure Point added
It is not our right but our duty to peacefully protest any and all actions that contradict the interest of We The People. We see a huge injustice today in the political arena where politicians are ruled by banking and special interests groups that is becoming a concern for the future generations of this Country and our World.
Kunundrum Guitarist Joseph Diehs :
Like many, I did not know what Fracking was or just how bad it is. But I do know I like a good beer. For those of you outside Colorado, the areas they are talking about Fracking - Longmont, Boulder, Fort Collins, they supply the water to some of the best breweries in the state, if not the country. There's New Belgium (Fat Tire), Left Hand, Oskar Blues (Dale's Pale Ale), Avery... Think how that would hurt those businesses if the water they used was ruined by fracking.
Other shout outs went out at the event to Sam Schabacher of Food and Water Watch for organizing various actions across the state, Shane Davis of Poudre Canyon Sierra Club, the Unity Center of Boulder for hosting and all of their excellent crew in charge of lighting, sound and stage management.
Thanks to Tommy Golec for editing and sound for this video.
Most of all, thanks to the people of Boulder county and Longmont for standing up to the Oil and Gas Industry and our Governor.