In the announcement this week of the members of the task force on the dangerous method of oil and gas extraction known as fracking, Gov. John Hickenlooper said, “Critical to the success and effectiveness of this task force is ensuring there is balanced and informed representation.”
Contrary to that statement, there is a key group missing representation on the task force. Not one leader from the six citizen groups that ran ballot measures to protect their health, safety and property from fracking was invited to participate.
How is this task force going to discuss “the role of state and local government in siting oil and gas facilities” without a representative from those citizen-leaders fighting for local control? We successfully fought to safeguard our families and our futures by passing a five-year moratorium on fracking and its waste products in Fort Collins and an outright ban on fracking in Longmont.
After winning those battles and getting clear, bipartisan support from our local communities, Hickenlooper used taxpayers’ money, including money from taxpayers in those communities, to sue Longmont, and he gave his blessing to the oil and gas industry to sue Fort Collins. It’s disappointing that our governor is taking the power of the people away from our home-rule cities, when it is the role of residents in home-rule cities to make the decisions that are best for what happens in their own backyard.
There is still much we do not know about the negative effects of fracking, but the science available on hydraulic fracking is clear: there is no scientific consensus that fracking is safe and the majority of the data we do have shows that it is not. Fracking and its consequences have been linked to health problems, decreased property values and earthquakes. Those facts are the ones we should be dealing with before deciding whether or not to allow fracking into our communities — to do otherwise is irresponsible.
Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans believe their local communities should be able to decide whether or not to allow fracking in their communities. These residents have already been denied their right to vote on measures pertaining to local control because of a deal cut by Hickenlooper. Now it is clear, the task force that was hand-picked by the governor, which is powerless to do anything other than make recommendations, is not credible.
We’ve been down this road before with Hickenlooper. This is the fourth time he has convened a commission, task force or panel process to address the inherent dangers of fracking. Meanwhile the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission continues to rubberstamp fracking wells by the thousands all across the state, many of which are next to homes, schools, playgrounds and critical water bodies.
If Gov. John Hickenlooper actually wants to serve his constituents, he would allow local governments and citizen-led ballot initiatives to have the final say and stop creating advisory task forces without genuinely representative members.
Kelly Giddens is president of Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, which successfully campaigned for a five-year moratorium on fracking in Fort Collins in 2013. Kaye Fissinger is president of Our Longmont, which passed a ban on fracking in Longmont in 2012.
By Kelly Giddens and Kaye Fissinger