Voters in Loveland, Colo., defeated a proposal to impose a two-year moratorium on fracking, ending a sometimes ugly campaign that degenerated into name-calling by the end.
The proposal was defeated by nearly 1,000 votes, and late on Tuesday, those who fought against it called it a victory of facts over fiction.
“Loveland voters took the responsibility upon themselves to learn the truth about this important technology and take action on this important local matter,” said Jon Haubert, spokesman for Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, in a press release.
Haubert and others credited the oil and gas industry’s strategy of educating voters about fracking and painting those opposed to it as poorly informed fear-mongers. But they probably also benefited from some self-inflicted wounds by the anti-fracking groups.
Prior to the vote, anti-fracking activist Phil Doe wrote an op-ed on the liberal site Counterpunch in which he invoked Nazis and compared a former Republican state lawmaker to a “trained talking dog” for her work to defeat the ban.
The comparison drew a strong rebuke from a member of the Loveland City Council who, in a letter to the editor of the Loveland Reporter Herald, demanded an apology.
“It is reprehensible that they should be able to spew such vitriol unchallenged,” Hugh McKean wrote. “[Anti-fracking group] Protect Our Loveland should apologize right soon and we can get on with a respectable discussion of the merits of developing our oil and gas resources.”
The vote in Loveland ended a trend of Front Range cities defying the state to impose restrictions on the oil and gas industry. Several other communities voted to ban fracking in recent years and one of them, Longmont, is being sued by the state and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who supports fracking, has said local governments don’t have the authority to impose more onerous restrictions on oil and gas operations than state regulators, but Democratic Rep. Jared Polis is behind several proposed statewide measures to change that.
Tuesday’s vote may have taken some momentum from those efforts, which are in the signature-gathering phase.
“This election should serve as a warning to those pushing similar ballot proposals statewide,” said Karen Crummy, spokeswoman for Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy, and Energy Independence, an issue committee fighting against the ballot measures. “Coloradans will not be manipulated by uncompromising activists peddling fear instead of facts.”
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