FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2016
CONTACT: Micah Parkin, 350 Colorado, 504-258-1247, Micah@350colorado.org
Razz Gormley, Frack Free Colorado, 484-431-3377, Razz@frackfreecolorado.com
Hundreds Occupy Colorado Fracking Site
Part of ‘Break Free’ from Fossil Fuels, Largest Climate Protest in Recent History
Bill McKibben and Other Celebrities Join in Support
Thornton, CO — Just one week after the Colorado Supreme Court overturned local democratically-passed moratoria and bans on fracking, hundreds of Coloradoans mobilized in a “Frontline Fracking Defense” to prevent one of the largest fracking sites in the country from going forward. This is the largest environmental movement in the state’s recent history.
As part of the global wave of action to Break Free from fossil fuels, this mass action showed the resolve of Coloradoan communities to be mountain strong in resisting extreme energy development in the state, and to turn the political tide towards a just transition to a clean energy economy. The proposed industrial fracking site is near residential homes and schools.
“Fracking in our communities creates toxic and harmful effects, not just within the air but also within our water and land, which effects the trees, our air and above everything our health,” said Luis, a local resident who has seen first-hand the impacts of fracking. “We need to ensure we are doing everything possible to protect our families and our planet, it’s time for us to put people first, it’s time for our elected officials to listen to the residents of Colorado and not the industry.”
During the escalated action, at least 40 activists surrounded a fracking well pad and storage tanks as the hundreds of other participants blocked the service road into the site. Participants of all ages engaged, including a 13-year-old who shut down the rig, and a 7-year-old who joined the protest with her father. The police were on site and threatened to arrest the protesters, but appeared overwhelmed and eventually left without making a single arrest to massive cheers from the crowd.
Today’s action reflects the tremendous urgency felt by community members in the Rocky Mountain West. Participants represent twelve states, all of which are directly affected by the harmful impacts of fossil fuel extraction.
“When I found out that such a large facility was going in so close to my kids’ future school, I was obviously very concerned. Oil and gas companies always say their operations are going to be safe, that they are going to do it the right way. But their track record is very different,” said Jessica Troy, a local Thornton resident. “Colorado averaged two spills a day at oil and gas facilities in 2015. There have been several in my community already this year. I don’t want these by any school or home. It’s not just about my community, this is about every community.”
Bill McKibben, renowned environmentalist, author, and co-founder of 350.org, spoke at the protest on the necessity of a just transition away from fossil fuels, especially away from the false notion of fracked natural gas being a potential “bridge fuel” towards a clean energy future.
“We don’t need bridges anymore, we just need political will,” said McKibben. “This, of course, is the one thing we’ve lacked in the fight against climate change because of the enormous power of the fossil fuel industry.”
Earlier this month, the Colorado State Supreme Court overturned existing local fracking bans, exposing communities to even more vulnerabilities of oil and gas extraction near their homes, schools, and places of work. Many of the groups involved are now helping lead multiple statewide ballot initiatives to protect communities from fracking this fall. On Thursday, Coloradan communities escalated their fight against the fossil fuel industry in protesting a fossil fuel auction of public lands.
“We are living in an age of transition. We need to face the truth head on,” said Johnny 5 from the Denver-based platinum-selling band Flobots. “The Earth cannot support an unlimited appetite for consumption. The longer we pretend it can, the more the most vulnerable will suffer. So, it’s a justice issue. It’s a sustainability issue. And ultimately it’s a survival issue.”
This action is part of Break Free from fossil fuels, a global mobilization of peaceful direct actions targeting major fossil fuel projects to keep fossil fuels in the ground and amplify the call for climate justice. Tens of thousands of people have confronted the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects to demand a rapid and just transition to a clean energy economy. Major actions took place across six continents, including six major action in the U.S., as well as in Germany, Nigeria, Brazil, Philippines, Australia and more.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
Break Free Colorado is a coalition of groups including 350 Colorado, Colorado Rising Tide, Frack Free Colorado, Greenpeace, the Earth Guardians and many other supporters. More information can be found at www.co.breakfree2016.org.
Images available for use: http://bit.ly/breakfreeco