Campaign finance reports filed this week show that the oil and gas industry has contributed over half a million dollars to groups that are fighting fracking moratoriums on the ballot in four Colorado cities.
Contributions from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association to pro-industry groups make up over 99 percent of the combined $606,205 raised. The sum is almost 40 times more than the combined money-raising efforts of anti-fracking groups in Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins and Lafayette.
"It obviously puts us at a disadvantage," Nate Troup, vice president of the anti-fracking group Our Broomfield, told The Denver Post.
Like the anti-fracking groups in the other cities, Our Broomfield is seeking a five-year moratorium on fracking that will appear in their municipal elections this November. In August the Broomfield City Council approved 21 new wells located on four new sites by Sovereign Energy, with one of those sites located just half a mile from Prospect Ridge Academy charter school and a residential neighborhood.
"They (Sovereign Energy) are required to make sure 98 percent doesn't make it into the atmosphere, which is big. If you compare it to what the EPA requires, we exceed state and federal government," Broomfield Mayor Pat Quinn said in August when he explained why the city didn't deny the application.
COGA Director of Policy and External Affairs Doug Flanders also argued that fracking bans don't make an energy policy.
"Banning a product we all use every day is damaging to the Colorado brand of compromise and reasonableness. These bans are not an energy plan."
Gary Wockner of Save the Poudre and Clean Water Action however calls the influx of money by COGA pollution, pure and simple.
"Can the richest and most powerful industry on the planet -- which pollutes our air, water, land and neighborhoods -- also buy and pollute our local democracy in Fort Collins?" Wockner said. "We'll find out."
According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state oil and gas regulatory agency, there are 51,398 active wells in the state with most of those wells concentrated in Weld County.