As the Durango Herald's Emery Cowan reports:
The state’s top gas and oil regulator backpedaled on a comment he made earlier this week that fracking opponents are generally affluent enough that they don’t have to worry about heating and cooling costs.
“It was an overgeneralization and improperly so,” said Matt Lepore, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, after a presentation at Friday’s Gas and Oil Regulatory Team meeting in Durango…
On Friday, Lepore said his comment stemmed from frustration that the economic effects of prohibiting the controversial drilling technique tend to be absent from current debates.
“I don’t hear them being discussed, and I think that’s a mistake, and maybe the improper leap that I made is that the people engaged in dialogue just aren’t worried about it,” he said. “That’s probably not true either, but I think that is where I was coming from.”
The Fort Collins Coloradoan's Bobby Magill filed the original story about Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Matt Lepore's comments about "fracking" opponents last Tuesday, to recap:
When residents “storm city hall and demand you protect their health, safety and welfare armed with misinformation,” they fail to draw a connection between a ban on fracking and the cost of natural gas, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Matt Lepore said Tuesday, speaking at the Northern Colorado Energy Summit.
If you look at the demographics of anti-fracking activists, he said, they are generally affluent enough not to be concerned with the cost of home heating and cooling, he said.
“A ban on fracking is really a ban on drilling,” he said. “A ban on fracking means an increase in coal use to generate electricity. It means an increase in local costs of electricity.”
Says Lepore about those remarks in this weekend's Herald,
As the director of the commission, Lepore said his place probably isn’t to comment about things such as the financial status of people debating gas and oil regulation in the state.
We would call that a significant understatement.
Bottom line: the claim from oil and gas industry proponents that opposition to the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is generally the pursuit of wealthy liberals is quite common. The purpose, of course, is to alienate opponents of "fracking," particularly near residential areas, parks, and schools as increasingly seen in Colorado, from the general public by inspiring some kind of "class resentment" over energy prices.
This seeks to deflect from the fact that fracking threatens neighborhoods of all economic classes, from wealthy Boulder to working-class Greeley. It also ignores that drilling in "split estate" residential areas pits wealthy energy companies against individual homeowners. Maybe there is a little arrogant presumption about the intelligence of "ordinary" American citizens thrown in for good measure?
For all of these reasons, for the director of the COGCC to say something like this is totally unacceptable. It reveals a contempt for public concerns about the issue Lepore regulates, wholly contrary to his mandate to protect and serve the people of the state of Colorado. And like his boss, a terse acknowledgement on the opposite side of the state in a small-market newspaper that he was wrong to do so is not enough.