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Outside Gov. John Hickenlooper's mansion. (Shelby Robinson/Facebook)

'Not Protesters — Protectors': Fracktivists Descend on Colorado Governor's Mansion

Under Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado has been reckless in its development of shale gas reserves, say anti-fracking activists

Deirdre Fulton

Anti-fracking activists in Colorado erected a 20-foot mock oil derrick in front of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's mansion in a Denver neighborhood on Monday, demanding an end to drilling in their state.

About 230 people joined the demonstration—which made stops at several "Hall of Shame" locations including Halliburton's Denver office, the state capitol, and the EPA's regional headquarters—calling for a ban on hydraulic fracturing and a shift to cleaner fuels.

"Fracking is is an inherently destructive process that we are fighting to keep out of our communities. We have better alternatives like wind and solar and it’s time to put them in place now."
—Sharon Carlisle, Colorado mom

They specifically targeted Hickenlooper, whose pro-fracking stance has helped encourage an extraction boom in the state. According to the Denver Post, three activists were ticketed for blocking traffic at the governor's mansion, which was the final stop of the day.

"Under Hickenlooper, Colorado has been reckless in its development of shale gas reserves," the grassroots organizing coalition Flood the System, which supported Monday's action, wrote on its website. "Over 55,000 wells are currently in production and industry's cozy relationship with the governor continues to maintain business as usual."

Mother and daughter Sharon and Zoe Carlisle chained themselves to the drilling rig in protest, speaking of their concern for the health and safety of their neighborhood as fracking moves closer to nearby homes and schools.

"I am doing this for my daughter and all the young people out there like her," Sharon Carlisle said. "Fracking is is an inherently destructive process that we are fighting to keep out of our communities. We have better alternatives like wind and solar and it’s time to put them in place now."

Monday's actions followed a two-day summit in Denver featuring workshops, trainings, and strategy sessions organized by the national Stop the Frack Attack Network.

Colorado has become ground zero in the fight between local municipalities and fossil fuel-soaked state legislatures. The Colorado Supreme Court announced late last month that it would weigh in on this debate as it prepares to hear the cases of two communities which, despite the state's support for the oil and gas industry, voted to ban fracking within their borders.

"Communities have a right to ban it. We should not back down."
—Anne Harper, Colorado farmer

"It's the scale of these operations that has changed the game for us," said schoolteacher Anne Harper, who lives in Weld County between Longmont and Erie, where the Canada-based Encana Corporation is considering new wells. The Post reports that the threat of industrial noise and truck traffic forced her to stop work at a family farm.

"Communities have a right to ban it," Harper declared on the Capitol steps. "We should not back down."

Similar fights are being waged around the country; most recently, the Republican-led North Carolina government signed a law that "renders 'invalidated and unenforceable' local ordinances that place conditions on fracking that go beyond those restrictions drafted by state oil-and-gas regulations."

But Stop the Frack Attack national coordinator Robby Diesu remains hopeful. "We are at a point where communities can collectively gain the upper-hand in the fight to protect our health and welfare against a baldly malevolent oil and gas industry," he said.

Added Shane Davis, a Stop the Frack Attack advisory council member: "We are not protesters, we are protectors of current and future generations."


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