Credo Action

Tell Governor Hickenlooper: In the wake of Colorado's flood, we need a moratorium on fracking

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The petition to Governor Hickenlooper reads:

Colorado's floods have affected thousands of fracking sites, creating the potential for massive toxic contamination. Shutting down this dangerous industry is an essential part of rebuilding Colorado in the wake of this disaster. We call on you to impose an immediate moratorium on fracking in Colorado.

    You'll receive periodic updates on offers and activism opportunities.

    Tell Governor Hickenlooper: In the wake of Colorado's flood, we need a moratorium on fracking

    In addition to the vast, immediate and tragic devastation of the recent flash flooding in Colorado, there may be a second, slow-motion disaster underway—and we're just beginning to learn the full extent of the damage.

    Thousands of fracking sites have been affected by the floods and state regulators have already confirmed 10 oil and gas spills, including spills of thousands of gallons of condensate—a mixture of oil and water—into the South Platte River and the St. Vrain River.1 2 3 The possibility that floodwaters and vast sections of land are contaminated with dangerous environmental toxins related to fracking is impossible to ignore.

    For years, Colorado activists have told Governor Hickenlooper that fracking is inherently dangerous and shouldn't be allowed to expand in Colorado. Instead of listening to these concerns, he acted as a booster for the fracking industry, sued Longmont for banning fracking, threatened to sue other cities if they followed suit and allowed fracking operations to expand on a flood plain.

    As the floodwaters recede and the extent of the environmental damage is understood, Governor Hickenlooper should put public health first and put an immediate moratorium on all fracking in Colorado—before any more damage is done.

    Tell Governor Hickenlooper: Impose an immediate moratorium on fracking in Colorado.

    Fracking operations are associated with a slew of dangerous toxic chemicals, many of which are closely guarded secrets, and produce millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater. These contaminants are often stored at fracking sites, where debris carried by floodwaters can damage and rupture storage equipment, causing toxic leaks. Some wastewater, which can contain radioactive materials and heavy metals, is even stored in giant open pits, which can overflow as a result of heavy rains. And debris can cause damage to oil and gas pipelines connected to fracking operations, causing spills of crude oil and methane.

    Activists in impacted areas of the state have already posted online deeply disturbing photos of flooded fracking wells, wastewater storage tanks and other oil and gas infrastructure.4 5 But the full extent of the damage and resulting contamination remains unknown.

    Flooding is a known risk associated with fracking. For years, fracking activists in New York and Pennsylvania have issued dire warnings about the potential for fracking operations to contaminate floodwaters in the wake of each major hurricane to hit the region.6 7 8 Governor Hickenlooper and state regulators could have taken notice. Instead they permitted a massive expansion of fracking operations on a flood plain, putting nearby communities at risk.

    It's clear that the state is woefully under-equipped to deal with the crisis. Colorado has more than 50,000 active oil and gas wells and 15 people to inspect them. Colorado state regulators are notorious for lax enforcement of the state's fracking regulations and their failure to keep up with the breakneck expansion of fracking in the state before the flood is well-documented.9 There's no reason to believe that they'll do a better job protecting people from contamination caused by the flood.

    This is an important moment to call on Governor Hickenlooper to impose an immediate moratorium on fracking in Colorado. As the planet warms—in part because of the expansion of fracking in the United States—extreme weather events like last week's flood will become more common and more severe.10 I hope you'll join me in calling on Governor Hickenlooper to make a moratorium on fracking part of his response to this disaster.

    Tell Governor Hickenlooper: Impose an immediate moratorium on fracking in Colorado.

    1. Mark Jaffe and Bruce Finley, "State Now Tracking 10 Oil and Gas Spills in Colorado Flood Zones," Denver Post, September 19, 2013
    2. Josh Dzieza, "Did Floods Cause a Fracking Disaster in Colorado?" The Daily Beast, September 19, 2013
    3. David Sirota, "Industry puppets spew obscene lies while people drown," Salon, September 18, 2013
    4. East Boulder County United
    5. Sharon Wilson, "Is there a media blackout on the fracking flood disaster in Colorado?" BlueDaze, September 15, 2013
    6. "Flooding and Fracking – A Dangerous Combination," Catskill Mountainkeeper
    7. Lynne Peeples, "Hurricane Sandy May Have Spared Fracking Operations, But Toxic Concerns Remain," Huffington Post, November 1, 2012
    8. Mireya Navarro, "Flooding Brings New Wrinkle to Fracking Report," New York Times Green Blog, September 9, 2011
    9. Steve Horn, "Regulatory Non-Enforcement by Design: Earthworks Shows How the Game is Played," DeSmogBlog, September 27, 2012
    10. Chris Mooney, "Did Climate Change Worsen the Colorado Floods?" Mother Jones, September 18, 2013