Former Colo. governors join forces on fracking

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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Major Democratic and Republican politicians, including two former governors, have joined a group opposed to a ballot measure that would allow Colorado communities to ban fracking.

Former Colorado governors Roy Romer, a Democrat, and Bill Owens, a Republican, have joined Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development as chairmen of its newly formed advisory committee. Former Republican Sen. Hank Brown and former Democratic speaker of the state House Rep. Terrance Carroll will also chair the advisory committee.

Andarko Petroleum and Noble Energy, two of the major oil and gas developers operating in Colorado, fund CRED, which seeks to educate the public about fracking.

“The need for more education about fracking is well recognized, and we believe CRED is the right vehicle, at the right time, to broadly share this information with Coloradans,” Romer and Owens said in a joint statement. “Coloradans value informed discussions and participation in the political process. CRED was developed to move Colorado past the influx of misinformation and set the record straight on fracking.”

CRED opposes an effort by anti-fracking groups to put a measure on the 2014 ballot that would allow locals decide whether or not to ban the practice in their communities. Currently, only the state can regulate the oil and gas industry, but several communities voted last year to stop fracking within their borders.

“This latest ballot proposal intends to ban fracking and could create environmental and economic chaos from one corner of Colorado to the other,” said CRED spokesman Jon Haubert in an earlier press release. “The key to effective regulations and enforcement is to provide statewide predictability and consistency.”

On the other side of the debate, however, Rep. Jared Polis, a multimillionaire, is helping bankroll the ballot measure, according to Denver’s Fox 31. The station reported that Polis is “closely aligned” with Local Control Colorado, a coalition of 10 anti-fracking groups pushing the ballot measure.

The groups in the coalition helped pass anti-fracking measures in several Colorado communities in the 2013 election and several have ties to well-funded out of state groups, including wealthy actor Mark Ruffalo’s Water Defense and Yoko Ono’s Artists Against Fracking.

Although the anti-fracking groups often claim to be poorly funded and run by local volunteers, a report by Complete Colorado revealed in November that Frack Free Colorado, one of the main groups behind the successful ballot measures, had close ties to Water Defense, whose founder has an estimated net worth of $20 million.

And Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, another member of the Local Control Colorado coalition, reported revenue of nearly $12 million in 2012, according to IRS records.

For Polis, the fight is personal. He famously said he felt like a “refugee” on his own 40-acre property when a fracking rig went up next to his weekend getaway last summer.

“I feel like the universe has selected me to be a poster boy for reining in out-of-control fracking,” he told The Daily Caller at the time.

While the ballot measure might have the support of millionaire politicians and celebrities, CRED is attempting to build a coalition of its own. On Tuesday, the organization also announced the members of its advisory committee, which includes representatives from the agricultural and educational communities to representatives of business and local governments.

“It’s a testament to the importance of a vibrant oil and natural gas industry in Colorado to have these talented individuals join the CRED movement, and to receive the overwhelming support from every sector in Colorado asking to be a part of this coalition,” said Scott Moore of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Ted D. Brown of Noble Energy, in a joint statement.

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Greg Campbell