New Boulder County Fracking Moratorium & Democracy School

5 Feb

On Wednesday night, the Boulder County Commissioners unanimously decided to put a one-month moratorium on new gas well in unicorporated Boulder County, and have tentatively planned a public hearing on March 1st to discuss extending the moratorium. You can read the resolution here if you’re having trouble falling asleep.

The Commissioners said they want to make sure that the County has “adequate and legal local regulations” to protect against the impacts of natural gas drilling–specifically the process of hydraulic fracturing, called “fracking”–which include:

“increased noise, odor, dust, traffic, noxious weeds and other disturbance, as well as the potential to significantly impact the county’s air, water, soil, biological quality, geology, topography, plant ecosystems, wildlife habitat, wetlands, floodplains, water, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure, drainage and erosion control, parks and open space lands, transportation infrastructure, emergency response plans, and other aesthetic values and community resources.”

To its credit, the County has compiled a pretty comprehensive list of “potential” dangers of fracking. However, the process of fracking is destructive and poisonous by its very nature; there is no safe way to frack! Just listen to what the people of Erie, Colorado or Dimock, Pennsylvania have to say.


County officials aren’t trying to stop the murderous practice, they just want to “take a breath and step back” to make sure “adequate and legal local regulations” are in place. They claim they don’t have the authority to ban fracking in any form within Boulder County under the current legal framework of the State of Colorado, and they’re right; they don’t.

So maybe it’s time to start working outside the current legal framework.

Our whole legal framework–and by extension our whole society–is set up to facilitate production; the extraction and exploitation of resources. It isn’t designed to protect rivers, forests, prairies, birds, fish, bears, beavers or our bodies from whatever the consequences of production are, whether they’re mercury, benzene, tar, dioxin, or any of the other millions of chemicals we spew out into the world every day. This system–our civilization–wouldn’t function if it couldn’t destroy & consume the entire world; indeed, that’s its function–the conversion of the living world in dead products.

Some folks with a great analysis of the subjugation of life to the needs of an economic system, and who are doing something about it are the good people at the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Despite the bureaucratic sounding name, they’re engaging people across the country in some really revolutionary work.

Through the Daniel Pennock Democracy School, the CELDF is helping communities across the country re-form the structure of the law to allow local communities the final say on what can–and can’t–take place in their communities. Working within the confines of the law (especially within the confines of legislation) isn’t usually considered to be groundbreaking radical action, however CELDF recognizes that our society is set up to maximize production, and that it will sacrifice life, morality, and the entire world upon the alter to that god, the god of production, with no limit. By breaking out from under the current, repressive, economic-focused legal structure, the Democracy School helps communities write their own “Community Bill of Rights”, and take back the power to determine what happens in their communities.

This re-localization is crucial not only to democratization (you didn’t think we lived an actual democracy, did you?), but also to protecting what is left of the natural world & working to rewild and restore our landbases.

A temporary halt on natural gas drilling is a wonderful thing, however if Boulder County (and less abstractly, the Front Range and foothills) are to be protected from degradation and destruction, power must be wrested from the larger Corporate State, and returned to the local land. Fracking is just one  of civilization’s newest (and incredibly destructive) methods of transforming the living world to dead objects, but like civilization, it must be stopped, permanently.

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