By the end of October, oil and gas interests had spent more than half a million dollars opposing a local ballot measure in Longmont, Colorado. In spite of those resources, an overwhelming majority of voters approved a ban on hydraulic fracturing, injecting high-pressure water and solvents into deep underground bedrock to extract natural gas.
For more than six months Longmont and its citizens have been of threatened, bullied and out-spent by the oil and gas industry. Longmont’s victory over this highly industrialized and dangerous oil and gas extraction process signals to communities throughout the state and the nation that they can and will prevail over state officials who answer to the oil and gas industry rather than to their constituents.
According to Michael Bellmont, a member of Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont (Our Longmont), “We have shown that Big Oil money does NOT always win and that our constitutionally guaranteed right to health, safety, and protection of property is NOT for sale. We proved that ordinary citizens with very little money but a lot of determination, intelligence, passion and boot leather can prevail.”
While the Denver Post predicts the ban will be overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court, opponents to fracking hope the victory emboldens other towns to take up their own measures.
"The message sent by the voters in Longmont is loud and clear — their citizens do not want fracking in their town, and I imagine the citizens of Fort Collins won’t want it here, either,” Fort Collins City Councilwoman Lisa Poppaw told the Coloradan.
Overall, environmental ballot questions, like environmental issues as a whole, got very little national press in the 2012 election season. Yet Nature Conservancy President Mark Tercek calls 2012 "one of the most successful years for conservation ballot measures ever." By the Conservancy's count, 46 out of 57 conservation funding measures passed to the tune of $1 billion for land and water protection.
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