June 19, 2013

A Firsthand Account of Boulder’s come-from-behind defeat of Fracking.

For more: “Boulder County extends oil and gas moratorium for 18 months,” via the Daily Camera—Boulder’s local but nationally-owned paper. Support indie media like elephnat, too!

How Boulder Citizens got Fracked—then hung in there and Won.

A personal story of yesterday’s grassroots victory won by People, getting off our couches: by Boulder’s own sweet little and powerful Roz Lynn Dorf!

First, I should admit that I love a good protest demonstration, and yesterday was a good demonstration.  The energy of the people was high and no one was physically hurt, two of my criteria.

I had written e-mails to the County and the City opposing fracking, especially on Open Space.  I don’t believe that the people of Boulder intended to purchase Open Space, so oil and gas wells and fracking could ruin our Open Space.

But I knew that bodies were necessary, not just e-mails, so I put on my white jacket, got my neighbor, and took the bus Downtown.  This was my neighbor’s first major demonstration and she was excited.

When she and I first got to the courthouse, we were disappointed that so few people were there.  It was a work day, however, and we knew that many people would be unable to attend.

But, more and more people started coming from all directions to the courthouse to listen to the speakers, and to attend the Commissioners’ meeting.

There were people of all ages in attendance:  Mothers with babies; activist kids; young adults; older Boulderites. The energy was amazing. Everyone knew we were there to help protect the health and welfare of the people of Boulder County, which should trump the “rights” of the owners of minerals under the land.

All the speakers were informative.  Afterwards we all marched into the courthouse before the meeting.  Most of us wore white to show solidarity.

The meeting room was packed.  Every seat was taken.  The overflow sat and stood in the hall.  My neighbor and I sat in a separate overflow room, which was also packed, and watched the proceedings via a live stream on a large screen.

I sat next to a husband and wife from Longmont who had recently discovered that the County wanted to allow fracking on Open Space.  They had been fighting the good fight in Longmont.

Cindy Domenico spoke first.

Everyone was waiting to hear what she had to say, because we knew that at the last meeting she was the only Commissioner not in favor of extending the moratorium.  The longer she spoke, it became obvious to everyone in the room that she had actually changed her position. 

The frowns on the people slowly became smiles.  We all looked at each other in disbelief.  Was this really happening?

The moratorium we expected was merely a one-year moratorium.  Then we heard about a 16-month moratorium, to review old and new studies on fracking, and the smiles grew larger.  Some people in the room softly clapped (applause isn’t really allowed).

Finally, an 18-month moratorium was suggested, and we were elated when the Commissioners voted for the 18-month extension.  Cheers were heard from the main room, from the hall, and from the room I was in.  We all left the courthouse feeling vindicated, happy, but knowing that this was only the beginning.

I am proud to live in Boulder.  I am proud that the Commissioners made public an e-mail from one oil & gas executive asking them not to be “bullied” by the people of Boulder.  I am proud that the people in Boulder won’t drink the Kool Aid.


Roz Dorf:  I moved to Boulder in 1972 to attend graduate school in journalism. I have lived continuously in Boulder, except for two years, when I mistakenly thought I wanted to live in Montana or Los Angeles.  Since 1977, I have worked as a paralegal.  My first demonstration was in 1968 at the University of Illinois Chicago Circle, as a member of SDS.  Allen Ginsberg chanted, played chimes, and told everyone to smile for Orlando Wilson’s (Sheriff of Cook County) Red Squad.  I was hooked.

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