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Pro-Oil Group Calls Fracking Opponents Stupid

A conservative group is trying a new tactic in Colorado's war over fracking: Call the other side idiots.

That's what a 60-second TV spot launching on cable networks in the state does, in so many words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wuKMID3Gq4.

In a caricature of anti-fracking activists, the ad features four actors in a garage holding a meeting of the "flat-earth discussion group." With the announcer saying that this represents who is "driving the conversation about fracking in Colorado," the group is called to order with the bowtie-wearing (a nod to Rep. Jared Polis?) leader boasting that "last week's meeting on whether the moon is actually made of cheese was very enlightening." "After I saw a movie about fracking, I mysteriously started gaining weight," says another member of the group, stuffing a fistful of cheese balls into his mouth.

The group concludes fracking should be banned on the grounds that it causes weight gain and "makes your sock puppet not want to kiss you anymore, if you're into that sort of thing," upon complaint from another group member. "[The fracking issue] may deteriorate very quickly into name-calling and ad-hominem attacks. And that's what scares the politicians," said 9NEWS political analyst Floyd Ciruli. "They've very worried that this is going to deteriorate." While most politicians seek to stake out a position of moderation, supporting the economic upside of fracking while advocating for environmental protections to go with it, the pro and anti-fracking groups are more interested in winning on a pair of anticipated ballot questions to restrict oil and gas operations.

Left-leaning groups have already attacked conservatives in Colorado, alleging ties to "big oil" in political ads. This ad comes from the "Environmental Policy Alliance," which is a project of the Center for Organizational Research and Education, which advocates against numerous left-leaning activists on topics ranging from animal rights to obesity to unionized labor. In a more serious tone, the announcer goes on to claim that the Environmental Protection Agency considers fracking to be safe, and that banning the practice would cost jobs in Colorado. It's hard to argue against the importance of oil and gas operations in the state's economy, creating high-paying jobs in rural parts of the state as long as there are wells to be drilled and operated. However, the environmental impact of fracking is still very much a live issue. "Hearing the oil and gas interests say they don't know about the serious health implications of fracking next to homes, schools, and hospitals is like hearing the piano player at the cathouse saying he doesn't know what's going on upstairs," said Nick Passanante, campaign director for Safe Clean Colorado, the campaign pushing for initiatives 88 and 89 to restrict fracking.

In fact, the EPA is currently in the midst of a large-scale study of fracking with a particularly strong focus on drinking water, noting that "as the use of hydraulic fracturing has increased, so have concerns about its potential human health and environmental impacts." The EPA is also studying the impact of fracking on air pollution, demand on water supply, and disposal of wastewater. Colorado state regulators have said that a wastewater disposal well is potentially connected to earthquakes in Weld County this year.

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