Anti-fossil fuel campaigners are ramping up their “leave it in the ground” efforts by recruiting protesters willing to get arrested for demonstrating against hydraulic fracturing, emails acquired by The Daily Caller News Foundation reveal.
In an email sent April 22 to college students and other anti-fossil fuel activists in Colorado, an environmentalist group calling itself “Break Free Colorado” directed anti-fracking protesters “willing to risk arrest, nonviolent direct action” to attend seminars teaching them how to get arrested.
Instructors at the group’s April 30th and May 1st training seminars are tasked with teaching anti-fracking protesters how to engage in non-violent civil unrest tactics that lead to arrests.
“Here in Colorado, people are taking action to defend our communities from the dangers of fossil fuel extraction on our lands,” the email adds. “We are sending a strong message to our state leadership that we must break away from fracking our public lands and communities!”
The Break Free Colorado website asks those wanting to go to the events if they are interested in getting arrested the movement. “Fighting climate change requires the courage to confront polluters where they think they are most powerful,” the group’s website adds.
Break Free Colorado has a high hurdle to jump if it intends on striking fossil fuel development from Colorado, as the state is heavily reliant on oil and natural gas extraction.
Colorado’s natural gas output, for instance, jumped from 2004 to 2014 by 51 percent, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state acquires nearly 60 percent of its electricity from coal, 22 percent from natural gas, and 18 percent from renewable energy.
Activists who have tried to banish oil from Colorado have failed.
Billionaire environmentalist and environmentalist Tom Steyer famously sank more than $8.5 million into unsuccessful bids to get anti-fossil fuel candidates elected to office in 2014. One of the Democratic candidates he propped up, former Sen. Mark Udall, was defeated in his reelection bid in 2014 in part for espousing an anti-fracking campaign message.
Some analysts speculate that members of Break Free Colorado are simply trying to terrify government regulators in hopes of pressuring them into prohibiting fracking on federally controlled land in Colorado.
“I honestly don’t know what getting arrested accomplishes; it doesn’t seem very productive to me,” Kathleen Sgamma, the vice president of public affairs at energy group Western Energy Alliance, told TheDCNF.
Sgamma added that she believes, broadly speaking, Break Free Colorado’s campaign is targeted at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a government agency that has increasingly taken up regulating natural gas development on federal land.
The BLM currently has several rules winding their way through Congress that will regulate methane emission from fracking before companies and states can be allowed to develop land for natural gas extraction.
Break Free Colorado, she said, is banking on using protesters willing to get arrested as a way to pressure BLM regulators into calling off natural gas production in Colorado, as well as in other states.
“The agency is tasked with protecting areas producing natural gas,” Sgamma said, “so the arrest could make BLM regulators feel threatened by protesters willing to get themselves arrested to keep natural gas development from happening.”
More than 40 campus anti-fossil fuel crusaders on college campuses have been arrested over the past two months.
Eight anti-fossil fuel campus activists at Northern Arizona University (NAU) have been arrested since Monday for refusing to leave a building they were occupying in protest of the school’s fossil fuel assets.
Similarly, nearly 40 anti-fossil fuel students at the University of Massachusetts were arrested while holding up in a federal government building in hopes of forcing UMass’ investment group into divesting fossil fuel assets.
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