Free Frack Colorado coordinator discusses the election’s impact on the fracking industry and communities.
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
On election day, anti-fracking ballot measures were approved by voters in three Colorado cities. In Lafayette, voters approved a ban on all new oil and gas drilling, while voters in Fort Collins and Boulder both approved measures for five-your moratoriums on fracking.
Joining us now to discuss this is Suzanne Spiegel. She is the campaign coordinator for Frack Free Colorado, which is a grassroots organization working to get fracking out of Colorado.
Thanks so much for joining us, Suzanne.
SUZANNE SPIEGEL, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, FRACK FREE COLORADO: Thank you so much for having us and sharing our story.
DESVARIEUX: So, Suzanne, a major victory for you and your organization. Can you just give us a sense of who makes up the base of these anti-fracking ballot measures?
SPIEGEL: Yeah. It’s really been a grassroots effort that has just grown organically as different cities across the front range have been threatened by the dangers of fracking. Families, you know, mothers in particular have been a big force. And just people that live in the cities have really stepped up and, you know, taken it upon themselves to put up this fight.
DESVARIEUX: And how does this victory for anti-fracking advocates like yourself fit into the bigger picture of national anti-fracking efforts?
SPIEGEL: Well, our victory was pretty amazing, in that the oil and gas industry is an incredibly powerful and rich industry. They have a lot of money to spend. In this campaign they spent over $800,000, you know, working to defeat us.
And I think what came out of this was just proof that the grassroots are powerful and that the will of the people can overcome corporate power and, you know, misinformation campaigns.
DESVARIEUX: Suzanne, just to give you a sense of what the other side is saying–I’m sure you’re familiar with these arguments–but will fracking bans have a negative effect on the U.S. by making the country more dependent on foreign energy sources?
SPIEGEL: Yeah, so it’s funny, because that’s one of the myths that they were trying to spread across the front range as well during this campaign. And, you know, the truth about that is, one, it’s a diminishing resource. The Energy Administration Information Administration says that there’s only enough proven gas reserves from shale to last us for the next 11 years. So we can’t depend on this energy. And the second thing is is that they’re right now preparing to export this gas onto the international market, because on the international market it’s worth almost twice–about twice as much is what it’s worth in the U.S. And, you know, this is an industry that’s all about profit, so they will sell it to the highest bidder, and that is not the U.S. That’s going to be in the Asian market, the European market. And, you know, there are export plants and ports that are actually being ramped up on right now. So it’s not about energy independence. It’s–for this industry it’s really about profit.
DESVARIEUX: Okay. And do you feel that most Americans are really misinformed about the safety of fracking?
SPIEGEL: I think a lot of people are waking up to the dangers, because, you know, in the U.S. there are 15 million people that are living within a mile of a fracking site. So a lot of people are being impacted directly. So it’s hard to tell people that there is no impact when so many have already been impacted. And, you know, I think that they’re working very hard to continue that misinformation. But I think that people are waking up to the dangers of it, because it’s in our experience now.
DESVARIEUX: [inaud.] examples of how people are being impacted?
SPIEGEL: Sure. So, you know, one of the most direct ways that I’m seeing it in my community is, you know, the air quality. So within the last year where I live, we’ve had ten reported ozone violations, where in the past we had a total of two ozone violations ever. So there directly–NOAA is directly attributing that to fracking or oil and gas drilling. So, you know, you can actually see the haze. And that’s happening across the country is that places that are experiencing fracking are seeing their air quality is just becoming worse than in places that are like L.A., you know, these are rural areas. Another example is that, you know, people are able to light their water on fire. And that’s not a myth. I mean, the levels of methane in people’s water, according to a leaked document from the EPA, are 17 times higher than what is normal.
DESVARIEUX: Okay. Well, Suzanne, thank you so much for joining us.
SPIEGEL: Thank you so much for having me, and, yeah, thanks for sharing our story.
DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.