Energy

Top Green Activist Visits Colorado To Resurrect Dying Anti-Fracking Campaign

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Environmentalist and anti-fossil fuel activist Bill McKibben is traveling to Colorado in hopes of breathing new life into the state’s waning anti-fracking campaign.

Throngs of activists also traveling to the state will join McKibben and take part in two protests they are touting as one of the “largest mass mobilizations for climate action in the history of Colorado.”

The Break Free 2016 event will feature a talk from McKibben himself.

The rallies are meant to re-target a moribund anti-fracking campaign and to build support for a couple of fracking measure that have been proposed for the statewide ballot.

Energy insiders believe McKibben’s campaign in the Centennial State is hopeless; Colorado is unlikely to give up its burgeoning natural gas industry.

Simon Lomax, an energy analyst at the Colorado-based Independence Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday McKibben has had his sights on Colorado for several years, in vain efforts to get the state to whisk away fossil fuels.

“Anti-fracking activists has been flailing their arms for years,” Lomax said. “But they are sorely mistaken if they think flying in an East Coast activist like Bill McKibben will help their cause.”

McKibben’s attempts to reaffirm support among the ranks of anti-frackers in the state comes on the heels of the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision May 3 to uphold years of state law giving hydraulic fracturing authority over to state officials, not voters. It essentially forbids city ordinances banning natural gas development.

Of course, the state’s conservation and environmentalist groups did not respond well to the court’s decision.

“Today’s decision deals a devastating blow not just to Longmont residents, but to all Coloradans who have been stripped of a democratic process that should allow us the right to protect our health, safety and property from the impacts of this dangerous industrial activity,” Lauren Petrie, Rocky Mountain region director with Food & Water Watch, told the Denver Business Journal shortly after the decision was handed down.

Another issue complicating McKibben’s activities, as well as anti-fossil fuel groups such as 350.org and the Sierra Club, is Colorado’s complete dependence on natural gas, coal, and other fossil fuel products for energy.

Oil production in the state quadrupled from 2004 to 2014.

During that 10-year stretch, Colorado’s natural gas output jumped by more than 50 percent, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The state gathers nearly 60 percent of its electricity from coal, 22 percent from natural gas, and 18 percent from renewable energy. In order to nix fossil fuels, Colorado would need to fill massive void.

Still, even with all the headwinds, environmentalists and Democrats have remained undaunted, with some sinking millions of dollars in the state hoping to force it to abandon natural gas development.

Billionaire Tom Steyer sunk more than $8.5 million into unsuccessful bids to get anti-fossil fuel candidates elected to office in the state in 2014.

Steyer bankrolled former Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s unsuccessful reelection bid in 2014, in part because the former senator accepted more than $4 million from Steyer. The donation and Udall’s anti-fracking positions were unpopular in fossil fuel-dependent Colorado.

McKibben hasn’t faired well, either.

McKibben’s “Keep-It-In-The-Ground” campaign in Colorado has seen better days. McKibben’s own anti-fossil fuel group, 350 Denver, was forced to cancel a protest at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s fundraiser in Denver due to a lack of supporters. After several posts on the Facebook page attempting to rally support, it was only able to get two protesters to commit.

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