Like many other communities along the Front Range, Broomfield is dealing with how to regulate oil and gas activity.
Dan Glick, a reporter with The Story Group, an independent multi media group in Boulder, has been working on a series on fracking along the Front Range. His latest piece, Fractured: Undermining Broomfield, has just been published at ColoradoIndependent.com. Glick researches the money being spent to defeat a citizen led ballot measure on fracking in Broomfield, question 301, and how efforts by the oil and gas industry to defeat the measure are straight out of a playbook that has identified several Colorado communities as targets for this type of big political spending.
Excerpt of Fractured: Undermining Broomfield:
Broomfield resident and psychologist Lois VanderKooi was relaxing at home earlier this month after a long day working in her private practice. She spread out on the couch, picked up her phone, and started rotating through the five Words with Friends games she plays with her brother and old college friends. Suddenly, an ad popped up: “Say NO to more political division. Say NO to the threat of lawsuits. Say NO to Question 301.” The ad invited VanderKooi to watch a video and sign up for more information.
She moved on to her next game.
VanderKooi, who describes herself as a “preacher’s kid” from the Midwest who has lived in Colorado most of her adult life and in Broomfield since 2002, can’t figure out how she was targeted for these ads. She had recently become involved with supporting Question 301, a citizen-driven ballot initiative on the Nov. 7 ballot. Question 301 is yet another effort on the part of Colorado communities to exert some control over the large industrial oil and gas operations that are steadily encroaching on schools, playgrounds, water sources, and subdivisions across the Front Range. The 301 initiative seeks to amend the Broomfield Charter to provide local elected officials the power to insist that any proposed oil and gas development near residential areas prove that the industrial activity will not affect residents’ health and safety before granting approval to drill.
In what has become a familiar election-time ritual in the state, Question 301 is being aggressively – and expensively – opposed by the oil and gas industry.
Targeted ads are a fact of life for most internet users these days, but the Words with Friends pop-up still unnerved VanderKooi, who realized then that the industry not only had big money at its disposal, but was willing to spend it on some very sophisticated techniques. She had recently participated as a member of Broomfield’s “Oil and Gas Comprehensive Plan Update Committee,” a group of citizens tasked by Broomfield council members to make recommendations regarding proposed residential oil and gas development in this suburban enclave of 65,000 residents halfway between Boulder and Denver. The soft-spoken VanderKooi has experienced heightened tension, including heated exchanges, between industry and residents as she has become more involved in the community’s fight to limit hydraulic fracking close to homes and the city’s planned drinking water reservoir.