Energy

Colorado Dems Say ‘Climate Rights’ Bill Contains Divisive Language

(REUTERS/Larry Downing)

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Officials believe a bill that would make producing oil and gas in Colorado a human rights abuse contains “inflammatory language.”

Anti-fracking activists shouted down officials in Lafayette County, Colo., during a panel discussion on March 7 after the council members suggested an anti-fossil fuel bill was too divisive and unfairly targets law enforcement.

“People are being brave and we’re sharing love. And I don’t think it helps to throw around inflammatory language like ‘we’re going to get arrested for ecoterrorism,’” Councilor Alexandra Lynch said about the so-called climate rights bill, which essentially equates oil production with human rights violations.

“… I feel like grounding the discussion in that reality as opposed to inflammatory language is a way for us to find consensus and create community,” she added, referring to what she says as a bill that places police in an untenable situation.

She was greeted with a chorus of jeers and heckles, which prompted shushes and comments like “let her speak!” from others.

“Excuse me? Excuse me. It’s our time, not yours. And I need you to be respectful of that,” Lafayette Mayor Christine Berg told those in attendance.

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The Lafayette City Council hashed out last week provisions in the bill, which provided for a “right to a healthy climate” that is “violated by the extraction of coal, oil and gas, and disposal of drilling waste.”

It also prohibits police officers from arresting or detaining those attempting to use “nonviolent direct action” to enforce the bill’s tenants.

Left-leaning officials on the city council have since stripped the bill of this provision. The council is expected to consider hashing out an amended version of the ordinance later this month.

The “Climate Bill of Rights” was a reaction to an amendment passed last November making it more difficult for Colorado to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The measure requires a proposed amendment to garner voter signatures in all 35 state Senate districts before it can be passed into law; more than 50 percent of voters must approve future amendments.

Activists believe Amendment 71 unfairly targets anti-fracking activists. They argue it would make it harder for them to push environmental ballot measures.

Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, for instance, claimed the amendment is a “power grab by the political and corporate elites … almost entirely funded by the oil and gas industry.”

Amendment 71 was itself a response to two anti-fracking amendments proposed in 2016.

Ballot initiatives 75 and 78 would have added language to Colorado’s state Constitution increasing local control on the degree with which natural gas producers can engage in fracking in areas.

The anti-fracking initiatives sprang up in May when the state’s supreme court decided to allow state law to supersede that of local ordinances on hydraulic fracturing.

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