Standing like Standing Rock

An open letter to Boulder County Commissioners

Protesters march on Boulder, Colorado's Pearl Street Mall in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline.

have been following the peaceful protest happening at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. I have been watching and listening as Native Americans have been gathering together in an effort to stop the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline. They come in protest because it cuts near their land and if there were to be a rupture or leak, the oil from the pipeline would pollute their only water supply, the Missouri River. They are forced to come together against this pipeline to protect themselves, the land and the water from an industry that only cares about the profit to be gained from the extraction and delivery of oil.

I have seen footage of the attack on these protesters. On Sept. 3, a private security company came out with mace and dogs to harm and frighten people staying at the camp. I was amazed and inspired to see people who held their ground in the face of such an attack and drove off those sent to frighten and hurt them.

I write this to you because their fight resonates with me. It brings to mind the fight here in Boulder County to stop fracking. In the course of this fight, communities such as Lafayette, Broomfield, Boulder and Longmont completed the process to create ballot initiatives to stop fracking. These measure were voted on and won by communities, only to be rejected by a few judges. They claim our laws are not valid because the mineral rights of the extractors are protected, not the rights of communities.

The moratorium against fracking may come to a close in Boulder County and the oil and gas companies are beginning to circle us like vultures. They see dollar signs deep under the ground next to our homes, schools and open spaces. They see no barrier between themselves and what they consider their property, regardless of what type of toxic mess it leaves in the air, in the earth, and in our water.

What choices are we left with? Communities have tried to fight the encroachment of this industry in the form of petitions, ballot measures, amendments and public comment. At every turn we are told, “Thank you for your time. We are on your side, but our hands are tied.” As communities, we have reached a time where that answer is no longer acceptable and change will have to take place in the hands of the people, much like our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock. Where will you stand Commissioners? When communities are forced into non-violent civil disobedience against an industry protected by the law because there is no other option to oppose them, will you be on the side of your constituents or will you side with the unjust protection of an industry focused on profit above all? You need to carefully consider who you represent: people or the oil and gas industry?

Communities all over the country have decided to stand in solidarity with the camp at Standing Rock. Cities like Seattle, Saint Paul, Minneapolis, Santa Barbara and Oakland have adopted resolutions in support of the camp. Recently, Lafayette, Colorado was added to that list and you recently passed a similar measure. The health and welfare of our communities and environment are of deep concern to many here in Boulder County. If you act as law enforcement for the oil and gas industry, it will fall upon the communities to protect the environment. What actions are you going to take to prevent that? Extend the moratorium or ban fracking here altogether. There should be no fracking here in Boulder County or anywhere else, and we implore you to side with the people and our land.   

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