The following is an expanded version of the response to Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll’s misrepresentation of Question 300, which prohibits hydraulic fracking and its waste products within Longmont city limits.Recently Vincent Carroll wrote a column about the citizen-driven ballot measure, Question 300 that bans hydraulic fracking within the city limits of Longmont. Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont agrees with one comment by Mr. Carroll: Yes, this is a “bellwether vote in Longmont.” However, there is little else about Carroll’s characterization of our effort upon which we can agree.
The citizens of Longmont didn’t choose to be a leader in the effort to assert local control over health, safety and wellbeing. That role was thrust upon us by an industry that has no interest in our community except to extract its last dime of profits at our community’s expense.
When representative government is inadequate or a failure, the Colorado Constitution not only provides a remedy, but also provides a guarantee of citizen health, safety and welfare.
The citizens of Longmont are under attack not only from the oil and gas industry, but from our own governor. Governor Hickenlooper is already suing us over regulations that are considerably watered down from what most in the Longmont community were expecting. He’s also promised to sue us again if Question 300 passes. Hickenlooper should be ashamed of himself. But he isn’t. He would rather serve as the spokesperson for oil and gas than represent his constituents. He’d rather make commercials for oil and gas, and pretend to drink fracking fluid that is not even being used by the industry.
Our Longmont is a group of Longmont parents, business owners, retirees, teachers, medical providers, people from all walks of life and all socio-economic demographics. We are working to protect what we hold dear: our families, our health, our quality of life, our town. In fact, many of us did not even know what fracking was when, one year ago, it was announced that an oil and gas company was going to frack only a stone’s throw from our homes, our children’s school and our reservoir in Longmont.
Our research revealed that scientific evidence points to the harms that fracking posed to our children, our health and our property. Months of scientific testimony and public input was presented to our city council with deep and heartfelt pleas to protect us from the myriad dangers of fracking: the cacophonous noise, property damage, threats to our children’s health and safety, earthquakes, air pollution, and the threats to surface and groundwater from well-documented evidence from the state’s own Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Eventually, we were faced with a choice: abdicate our Constitutional rights to protect our family’s health, safety and welfare or work to keep Longmont a great place to live for our families today and for our children’s and grandchildren’s future families. We chose the latter.
Over 100 volunteers worked for six weeks in 100 degree temperatures to collect 8,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot. The measure will give Longmont residents the right to vote on whether they want fracking 350 feet from their homes, schools and reservoir or to prohibit this method of oil and gas extraction outright.
We have now learned that the oil and gas industry has spent over $330,000 and has contributed over a half-a-million dollars to defeat this measure. They have outspent our citizen-led effort to protect our homes, safety and property 30 times over.
This money has come from 28 contributors, including Halliburton, Chevron, Encana. Many of these oil and gas corporations aren’t even based in Colorado, but instead, hail from Texas, Oklahoma and Florida. Not one – not one Longmont resident has contributed to the opposition’s campaign.
Why are out-of-state oil and gas companies spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to strip parents, small-business owners, retirees and teachers in Longmont of their constitutional rights? Why does the oil and gas industry feel the need to buy an election so that they can have free reign to put dangerous, industrial activity next to our homes and our children’s schools, or anywhere else their bank accounts desire?
While we wait for honest answers to these questions (and honesty is not a trademark of the oil and gas industry), we will continue what we have always done: being neighbors, parents and taxpayers in Longmont. And we will not stop working every day to protect our loved ones from hydraulic fracking.