The Boulder County Commissioners

Why are the County Commissioners so ineffective at stopping oil and gas development in Boulder County?


This isn’t accidental, or even a new story. As early as 2002, during her career at the group now called Conservation Colorado, Commissioner Elise Jones was saying that “drilling is part of the answer.” Commissioner Jones built up her political credentials as the environmentalist who compromised with the oil and gas industry, working from the inside. Read, for example, her guest article in Natural Gas 360, an industry compendium of “insight and intelligence from some of the world’s best and brightest natural gas energy experts, analysts, and players.” (Click the image to view the full PDF)

In those pages, each expert was given two pages to draw their vision for the future of the industry. Commissioner Jones’ vision was one where natural gas played a central role in the transition of the economy toward clean energy, industry used directional drilling to place the wells slightly further afield, and where the industry “took responsibility for mistakes and cleaned up”. “Empathize”, she writes to the industry, “with people’s concerns about their communities and health.”

This “grand trade-off”, as Commissioner Jones calls it in the article, is what we’re faced with today. We get sick, our water gets poisoned, the climate warms up, the oil gets exported, and some rich people get richer.

​Commissioner Jones, the people of Boulder deserve better. Climate change doesn’t care about what direction the drills move, or whether we receive “empathy” from the industry. You have led people to believe there even exists any way to clean up the damages wrought by extraction -- that isn’t science, it’s science fiction. There is no way to reverse seepage into the groundwater. There is no way to reverse climate change. You must take full responsibility for the role you’ve played in providing political cover for the oil industry, or resign.