After four Colorado towns passed fracking bans in last November’s election, the oil and gas industry prevailed in Loveland’s referendum yesterday.
A 2-year moratorium on fracking lost by 902 votes out of about 20,000 votes cast – in a city of about 70,000 residents.
While the Oil & Gas Association crows about the win, saying voters said "yes to responsible energy development in their community," to us it shows what $1 million can do in a local campaign. Protect Our Loveland, which led the charge to ban fracking, spent $7500 – 1/100th of the Oil & Gas Association. Residents were deluged by ads on TV, radio and newspapers, and received flyers in the mail daily in advance of the vote.
The industry mascaraded under names like Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence and Loveland Energy Action Project.
And while Fort Collins, Boulder, Lafayette and Broomfield – the other cities in what’s become known as Colorado’s "Frack Zone" – passed fracking bans in the November election, Loveland couldn’t join them because the oil and gas industry sued. They managed to postpone the referendum until yesterday, when they knew mostly conservatives would vote, since it was also the day of the Republican primary for Governor.
Fort Collins’ five-year moratorium is hold because a Colorado Oil and Gas Association lawsuit is pending in court. Longmont passed a fracking ban in 2012.
Meanwhile, fracking operations in Colorado have been halted twice this month because of earthquakes as high as 3.4 magnitude near drilling sites.
There are now 53,000 active fracking wells in Colorado with 3000 more each year, and many are now near suburban neighborhoods and rivers. There are daily spills, contaminating soil and water, and air pollution has become a major problem in an area previously known for some of the cleanest air in the US.
Coming to a neighborhood near you?
Read our article, Colorado: First State to Regulate Methane Emissions from Fracking.