As the Boulder Daily Camera reported yesterday, the fight over an anti-fracking initiative that will appear on the November ballot in Lafayette is heating up thanks to some ridiculously inappropriate comments from an industry shill:
Earlier this month, a Lafayette resident — with financial backing from the Colorado Oil & Gas Association — filed a complaint with the city, claiming that the signature-gathering petitions used to get the measure on to the ballot were invalid because they did not include a state-mandated summary of the issue for signers to read.
Last week, the challenge was thrown out by the city clerk, who ruled that the petitions complied with state laws governing home-rule cities. That prompted Doug Flanders, Colorado Oil & Gas Association director of policy and external affairs, to issue a statement that the citizen initiative, dubbed the Lafayette Community Rights Act, could have the unintended effect of cutting off all natural gas to Lafayette homes.
"For example, signatories were probably unaware that approval of this ballot could stop the transportation of all natural gas through pipes, which means disallowing natural gas to your homes," Flanders said in an emailed statement to the Camera on Friday, conjuring up images of residents this winter huddling around candles and wood-burning stoves as the whoosh of piped-in natural gas goes silent and water pipes in the basement freeze and burst. [Pols emphasis]
Yes, you read that correctly. Doug Flanders, the director of policy and external affairs for the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA), is essentially threatening Lafayette citizens that passing a ban on fracking might lead to their natural gas being cut off.
(This is a good place to note that COGA is a different organization than the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). Flanders' COGA is a oil and gas trade group, while the COGCC is a state agency).
Now, we could argue about whether Flanders' statement is a legal violation as it relates to making knowingly false statements about an election issue, but that's almost a secondary issue. Flanders and COGA have ABSOLUTELY NO AUTHORITY TO CUT OFF NATURAL GAS TO ANYONE, let alone an entire community such as Lafayette. This would be like Colorado Pols threatening to turn off the Internet if you don't like what we write. It's childish and petty, and it's completely stupid.
We would imagine that Gov. John Hickenlooper and others at COGCC (the state agency) have daydreamed about strangling Flanders over these asinine comments, particularly since both have been trying hard recently to calm the flames of angst around fracking in Colorado. Flanders' statement is exactly the kind of thing that reinforces opinions that the oil and gas industry really cares nothing at all about the well-being of its customers — and it's the kind of thing that will draw otherwise non-committal elected officials into the fray in defense of local citizens.