Congressman Polis gets fracked

A view to a drill rig from Congressman Jared Polis' front yard near Berthoud, Colorado

A view to a drill rig from Congressman Jared Polis’ front yard near Berthoud, Colorado

*Latest update*

Denver energy firm drilling next to Jared Polis’s property could be fined
Congressman’s fracking complaint now being investigated by state

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In a July 26th blog post at Denver Westword, Alan Prendergast cleverly combined these two stories: Groups call for Matt Lepore to resign, while Jared Polis sues to stop drilling.

By the end of that day the Congressman Polis dropped his lawsuit:  Jared Polis drops lawsuit over fracking near his property, but may refile

The next day, Congressman Polis wrote a blog post – with photos – at Colorado Pols.

I’ve been FRACKED
by: Jared Polis
[A Democrat, Polis is the member of the United States House of Representatives for Colorado’s 2nd congressional district, serving since 2009.]

There is no other way to put it other than to come out and say that I’ve been fracked, like thousands of other Colorado families. My in-laws seeking refuge on our couch in our Boulder apartment, our plans in disarray.

For twelve years I’ve had a family farm just east of Berthoud in unincorporated Weld County. Some of you reading this have probably been to the Halloween party my partner, Marlon, throws there annually and, others might have gotten some of my “Polis Farms” honey we give out around the holidays from my five beehives there. I’ve grown a little corn, a little alfalfa, but mostly just enjoyed the occasional weekend by our little pond hanging out with the rabbits and turtles.

Our two-year old son runs joyfully through the fields and learned one of his first words there –  “turtle.” My Berthoud home in unincorporated Weld County has been part of our family’s Colorado dream.

For the last four years my partner Marlon’s father, Perry, and his sister, Nicole, have been living there full time.

But just this last weekend, our dream became a nightmare when Perry noticed a few trucks and construction occurring on the neighbor’s property across the street. They raise horses, so we thought maybe they were building a new stable. We were shocked when a couple days later this went up overnight (literally OVERNIGHT) …

Be sure to click through and read the entire post.  I must confess I took a teensy bit of pleasure in the reading of it. It reminded me of an old Randy Newman song, “I Want You to Hurt Like I Do.”

It’s a familiar story. This time it’s a U.S. Congressman telling it. Does it matter? Yes it does. It shouldn’t – and it does. But that’s beside the point. Something Polis wrote toward the end caught my attention – as it relates to the Matt Lepore part of the story.

Polis wrote: “Our family will be ok of course. Thankfully I have done well enough that we can afford to move our family and take a loss on our property, even as part of my Colorado dream is lost forever. Many Coloradan’s don’t have these options.”

You see, Congressman Polis is one of those “affluent” anti-frackers referred to in Lepore’s comments. In his candor about his situation, Polis illustrates why Lepore is so wrong in his assessment of the people who are concerned about the impacts of oil & gas drilling. Affluent people like Congressman Polis can afford to walk away.

The rest of us surrounded by gas wells – not just one – don’t have much choice. The federal government exempts the industry from the clean air and clean water standards. The state and county governments have stripped property owners of their rights. The COGCC has eroded the public hearing process. During the hearings in January more people testified in favor of increased setbacks than against and still the Commissioners sided with industry and not the people. And Garfield County just did away with the public review process altogether and handed over our rights to the industry. The people of Colorado did not vote for oil & gas development. No one ever asked us if we approved of oil & gas drilling. The affluent have always had the means to vote with their feet. They can afford to walk away from their dreams. The other 99% are left hanging on to what they’ve worked for and what they’ve built.

So naturally we use the one thing they can’t take away – our voices.

There is a solution to the anti-fracking problem. In a way, Jared Polis hinted it at it. If government and industry were smart they would see it. They could fund a buyout program for property owners who want out. My guess is they could wipe out 50% of the anti-fracking movement in the first year.

Drilling and fracking have destroyed value of our most significant investment — our homes

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