By Calvin Thompson | Colorado Watchdog
Activists in Lafayette are spearheading the effort to ban hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking,” across Colorado.
East Boulder County United, a grassroots collection of anti-fracking activists, submitted a petition to ban hydraulic fracturing in Lafayette, significantly amend the city charter and tackle myriad other issues in a so-called Lafayette Community Rights Act.
The petition required 948 signatures to make it on the city ballot next election, and EBCU activists claim to have 2,042, or 10 percent of Lafayette voters. The validation process begins next week and EBCU brought in enough signatures for a healthy margin of error.
If validated, the initiative will be sent to the city council before being put to a public vote.
Cliff Willmeng, the leader of EBCU, said a fracking ban is “humanly necessary,” and that the industry stands to “benefit the few and harm the many.”
Anti-fracking activism has already seen widespread support in the Boulder area, which hasn’t seen any real fracking activity in more than a decade. Tom Dowling, one of the EBCU petition gatherers, told Colorado Watchdog that only about one in 10 people he visited were unwilling to sign. Dowling said he collected almost 200 petition signatures personally.
This trend extends to the rest of the county. Boulder County has passed a number of temporary fracking bans, in spite of increasing evidence that fracking is safe. The city of Boulder has made moves in the same direction, with some on the city council calling for a statewide ban.
Activists point to industrial accidents as a concern. When Willmeng spoke at a press conference Tuesday morning, he cited a handful of industrial fracking accidents, many of which occurred several states away from Colorado.
The margin of error in Colorado is actually miniscule for the fracking industry. The Colorado Conservative Oil and Gas Commission calculated that only one-twentieth of one percent of all fracking fluid put into use in 2011 was spilled. The much maligned contaminant is pumped thousands of feet below groundwater in the fracking process, where massive layers of rock keep it from infiltrating drinking water.
In spite of the low risk of pollution and accidents, determined EBCU supporters said this is only the start of a greater movement, and they have and will offer support to like-minded groups.
Similar moratorium proposals are already seeing light in Fort Collins and Broomfield, albeit without the huge support seen in Lafayette and Boulder County. Loveland activists submitted their own petition Monday. Most of the towns with anti-fracking initiatives have seen little to no fracking taking place in their limits.
In February, Gov. John Hickenlooper threatened to sue local governments that ban fracking.
Email Calvin Thompson at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @watchdogco.