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First Colorado City Votes To Ban Natural Gas Fracking

Over half a million dollars couldn't stop Colorado community From banning fracking.

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Richard Evans is the registered agent for “Main Street Longmont.” Evans works for Reiter & Associates, a Denver-based political consulting firm. The firm is headed by Rick Reiter, who has been involved in several successful ballot campaigns in the past, including defeating an effort to increase severance taxes assessed to oil and gas money. The group recruited seven of the city’s former Longmont mayors, all Republicans, as the public faced the push against the charter amendment.

Residents Worry About Hidden Costs of Fracking

The residents, in response, organized a group called “Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont," also an issue committeee which received $28,600 in contributions and discloses its donors. They held educational forums and talked with their neighbors. Residents wrote op-eds in the local news outlets. Tim Schabacker, for instance, who has worked for the shale gas industry for 35 years, wrote that he is “dead set against” fracking in Longmont. 

“The arguments by proponents about the economic benefits of fracking are misleading,” he wrote. “The immediate economic benefits of drilling overlook the hidden costs borne by the community not only in terms of the general degradation of residents' health and quiet enjoyment of their environment, but also the negative impact of declining real estate values.”

City Hopes to Set Example, Governor Plans to Sue -- Again

The fossil fuel industry’s big spending did not drown out the concerns of the residents about their health and the local environment. While the state of Colorado is being heavily exploited by the fracking industry, community organizers hope that the example set by Longmont will serve as a road map for other communities facing pressure from the fossil fuel industry. 

“We have shown that Big Oil money does not always win and that our constitutionally guaranteed right to health, safety, and protection of property is not for sale. We proved that ordinary citizens with very little money but a lot of determination, intelligence, passion and boot leather can prevail,” Michael Bellmont, a member of Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont said. 

In September, the governor threatened a second lawsuit against the city if the ban passed.

Sara Jerving is a reporter and social media writer for the Center for Media and Democracy.
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