FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: March 13, 2019
Amanda Janusz: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leesah Patt: email@example.com
The Lookout Alliance Splits: A Lesson in Co-opting the Grassroots
Two of the founding members of Gunbarrel’s The Lookout Alliance (TLA), Leesah Patt and Amanda Janusz, officially severed ties with the organization they founded and organized after the group and its mission were co-opted by LOGIC (League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans).
When Heatherwood residents received lease offer letters to extract oil and gas, Janusz and Patt organized the community, recruited volunteers, and sponsored a townhall meeting attended by nearly 200 residents. Both women teamed up with several other residents to form The Lookout Alliance with the goal of collaborating with other activist groups to stop fracking in Gunbarrel/Niwot and the rest of Boulder County threatened with oil and gas development.
Amanda Janusz, an environmental refugee from Broomfield, moved to Boulder County 2 years ago to escape the mega wellpads now under construction in Broomfield. “After being part of the fracking fight in Broomfield, I saw how Broomfield City Council negotiated away its citizens’ health and safety. We had to move our kids away from 84 wells.” Leesah Patt and her family have been Gunbarrel residents for the 21 years and don’t plan on becoming environmental refugees.
The first outside group to approach the new TLA leadership was the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans (LOGIC) via LOGIC’s paid organizer, Broomfield resident Laurie Anderson. Anderson guided TLA’s leaders to disassociate with other antifracking groups. Anderson and Colorado Rising member and Heatherwood resident Tricia Olson guided the group to rely on lawsuits and legislation/regulations. Once Anderson and Olson became staples in TLA, the group dynamic shifted to reflect the strategy and goals of LOGIC and Colorado Rising (regulation), not the original mission of TLA (stop it).
A Clue about What Was Coming
Even before the proposed oil and gas legislation (now SB-181) was submitted to the state senate—when no one had yet see it—Anderson met with TLA leadership and outlined every feature of the upcoming bill. She also encouraged The Lookout Alliance to canvass the public and encourage people to contact local state legislators in support—that is, in support of a bill that no one had yet seen or read. Anderson said LOGIC had raised money to promote such canvassing even before the bill became public and anyone could read it. (Later information came out that LOGIC is partially funded by Jared Polis.) LOGIC organizers also met with COGCC Director Jeff Robbins prior to the bill being released, but Anderson was vague when questioned what they spoke about.
LOGIC and Colorado Rising successfully pointed the leadership of a newly formed, ready-to-fight grassroots community group to a tired, tried-and-true approach that’s given us 60,000 wells, F-grade air quality, record oil production, and megapads next to schools. It’s comforting to assume that families can protect themselves by lobbying for regulations and suing, but they can’t. When it became clear that some Heatherwood residents had been led into negotiating the terms of their surrender, The Lookout Alliance and its original mission were defunct. Without an unyielding fight, Heatherwood and its residents will end up another oil field just like Broomfield. (The new COGCC and its head Jeff Robbins just this week approved the forced pooling of Wildgrass residents in Broomfield—despite lawsuits and court appeals—and Extraction’s mega wellpads are now under construction.)
Residents of Boulder County want drilling banned; they’ve been saying that since 2012. Drilling cannot be “safely regulated,” as electeds, paid organizers, and “trusted environmentalists” have been telling people since 2002. Leesah Patt and Amanda Janusz will be organizing and fighting for real health and safety and environmental rights.
Where do we go from here?
· Attend the “Strategic Use of Direct Action” training on March 23rd, 12-3pm. Details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/271269857121142/
· Locate and organize with grassroots community efforts to stop fossil fuel projects, not simply regulate them
· Network with people independent of politicians to build authentic environmental campaigns
· Contact us for more information and to continue the spirit and principles of a real fight to stop drilling in Heatherwood and beyond: