Press Statement on Banner Hang on Third Flatiron
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Title: Community members display a 150 foot long banner on the third flatiron imploring, “DO NOT FRACK OPEN SPACE.” Local activists staged this protest to bring awareness to the fact that permits for hydraulic fracking have already been submitted for many acres of Boulder County’s Open Space. The Boulder County Commissioners’ refusal to pass the Climate Bill of Rights and Protections, and thereby ban fracking, effectively signals their tacit approval for drilling on Boulder County Open Space.
I. Background for the Action:
Fracking permits? On our Open Space? Turn our publicly owned land into a polluted oil field for the next 30+ years? We the people say no.
50 YEARS AGO… In 1967, Boulder's visionary citizens were the first in the nation to tax themselves to acquire, maintain and preserve a greenbelt around Boulder’s urban limits, thereby saving our county from urban sprawl in order to hand it over on a silver platter to the oil and gas industry.... Wait a second! This is unacceptable. We will not allow our open space to be turned into an oil field. We stopped it in 2012 when the last well was drilled in open space, and we speak out today and say: "We don't want any of our space drilled". For the health of our community, future generations, and planet we've got to stand up and protect what’s sacred.
NO DRILLS - NO PIPELINES - NO COMPROMISE - A HEALTHY CLIMATE IS OUR RIGHT - ALL PERMITS ARE DENIED BY THE PEOPLE OF BOULDER COUNTY
This is only the first stages of a 1800 well onslaught into Boulder County. Much more is coming our way. This is our open space, paid for by our labor for 50 years. Our future and quite possibly most of life on Earth depend on what we are going to do collectively, community by community, right now.
II. The Action: Warning members of the community that Boulder County Open Space will be fracked.
Early morning on Wednesday, October 18 2017, three members of the Boulder County Protectors rock-climbed to the top of the third flatiron and unfurled a banner down the face of this famous rock formation. The 150-foot long banner read “DO NOT FRACK OPEN SPACE.” The Boulder County Protectors staged this protest to visually illustrate the critical nature of the immediate fracking crisis and to warn the citizens of Boulder County that permits to frack on Boulder County’s Open Space have already been submitted. This protest was planned to coincide with the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Boulder County’s Open Space program.
Community members and members of the Boulder County Protectors were also stationed at the Chautauqua Park trailhead to answer questions about the protest and to hand out flyers to the public. The flyers relate the history of how Boulder County residents were the first in the nation to tax themselves to buy up land to prevent urban sprawl, to provide wildlife habitat and to facilitate recreational enjoyment. The flyers attempt to educate the public about the threats to our open space by explaining that the end of the fracking moratorium earlier this year prompted the oil and gas corporations to immediately begin divvying up these public lands. Because Boulder County does not own the mineral rights below much of the public’s open space land, oil and gas companies which hold the leases can readily drill on these pristine natural landscapes. Even open space land under which the county does own the mineral rights can still be drilled via a dastardly process called “forced pooling.” This sets up the revolting scenario whereby the county would be paid a royalty for the oil and gas that was forcibly extracted from its own open space land. This land, paid for by our taxes and owned by the people, was supposed to be protected forever and for future generations.
The Boulder County Protectors have repeatedly emphasized just how much open space owned by Boulder County is at grave risk. By its very nature, open space is especially vulnerable to new oil and gas extraction because its surface is not covered by building structures. The state mandates that new oil and gas drilling must be at least 500 feet from homes. Normally this laughably inadequate setback requirement would buffer populated areas to a degree, but open space does not benefit from even this nominal setback “protection.” Therefore, Boulder County’s sacred open space lands are sitting ducks for drilling operations that are predicted to drag on for at least 30 years per well.
Crestone Peak Resources filed a plan in March 2017 to drill 216 wells on open space between Longmont and Lafayette. In September 2017, 8 North (a subsidiary of Extraction Oil and Gas) announced plans to frack on open space located within Lafayette city limit and horizontally drill under an elementary school, senior center and a recreation center. The action today was a response to the rapidly approaching onslaught of 1800 fracking wells planned for Boulder County and its open space. The action also serves to remind the public that the Boulder County Commissioners refuse to act on this life-threatening issue.
For a better idea of which parts of Boulder County will be fracked and what imperiled landmarks (schools, hospitals, rec centers, senior centers, water supplies, organic farms etc.) are nearby, visit: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1Mu91wrRXz0oGWXQruc6ggZbIXD0&ll=40.06013467863365%2C-105.15559669609382&z=12
This map also shows how extensively the planned drilling areas overlap on publicly owned open space land and city parks.
III. Why the action? Our Narrative:
The Boulder County Commissioners enacted a fracking moratorium in 2012. In May of this year (2017), the fracking moratorium in Boulder County ended. Since then, the Boulder County Commissioners started paving the way for over 1800 toxic, fracking oil and gas wells to be drilled across Boulder County. Between the communities of Lafayette and Longmont over 200 wells are currently in the permitting process, the drillers being Crestone Peak Resources and 8 North ( a subsidiary of Extraction Oil and Gas). The three parcels targeted for new drilling include large swaths of public land and open space purchased with taxpayer’s money.
The Commissioners continue to greenwash the facts by telling the public that fracking can be done safely and responsibly under its newly re-written oil and gas regulations. The Commissioners mislead the public by saying that their hands are tied and that there is nothing more the they can do. We do not accept the statement that there is nothing more the Commissioners can do to protect us. In the same way Boulder County residents are putting their liberty at risk to ban fracking, the Boulder County Commissioners must put by their careers on the line to ban fracking for the residents of Boulder County, who the Commissioners ostensibly serve.
The Boulder County Protectors are speaking out against these drilling plans to defend their right to a safe environment for themselves and for their families and informing other community members of the issues. The Boulder County Protectors reiterate their demand that the Boulder County Commissioners:
Deny all permits to begin drilling Boulder County
End scientifically misleading statements that fracking can be made safe
Join with community members to protect the environment and the basic rights of everyone in Boulder County
Enact the Boulder County Climate Bill of Rights & Protections or resign their positions so that others can lead
In August, Michelle Krezek, the Department Director of the Boulder County Commissioners, confirmed that the Commissioners will not be allowing the Boulder County community a vote on the Boulder County Climate Bill of Rights & Protections. Community members have exhausted all the legal channels to move the Boulder County Commissioners to act on behalf of their constituents. The Boulder County Protectors interprets the Boulder County Commissioners’ lack of action for their constituents to be a violation of our basic human rights. We have the right to defense — to do what it takes to protect public health, safety, and well being ourselves. Therefore, with the power of direct action, the Boulder County Protectors see alerting other members of the community of these facts and of our collective power as ordinary working class people to defend ourselves as a paramount goal.