Big oil pours money into killing Longmont frack ban


As first reported in Boulder Weekly, the oil and gas industry is bankrolling an effort to defeat Longmont’s proposed ban against hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Records filed with the city of Longmont confirm that the campaign to defeat the proposed prohibition against fracking within city limits, known as Question 300, has been backed by some heavy hitters.

According to documents submitted to the city clerk on Oct. 16, the group initially known as “Longmont Taxpayers for Common Sense” — which subsequently changed its name to “Main Street Longmont” after a Washington, D.C., group challenged the original moniker because it had the same name — has received $447,500 in contributions to defeat the anti-fracking measure.

The money has come primarily from oil and gas companies and industry associations.

Entities that have contributed at least $30,000 to the campaign include Halliburton, Encana, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, Noble Energy, Chevron and the American Natural Gas Alliance. Several others have contributed five figures, including the Colorado Petroleum Association, the KP Kauffman Company, PDC Energy, DCP Midstream, the Bill Barrett Corp. and Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc.

BW previously reported in its Sept. 27 edition that the Main Street Longmont campaign has hired one of the state’s top political consultants, Rick Reiter, whose firm Reiter & Associates has worked on some of the state’s most prominent campaigns, including the 2008 defeat of Amendment 58, a measure that would have increased severance taxes assessed to oil and gas companies and would have directed most of that money to college scholarships.

The cost of hiring Reiter does not yet appear to be included on the financial disclosures required to be filed by the city, but additional forms are due each week before the election. Declared expenses on the form submitted by the group, at the time it was calling itself “Longmont Taxpayers for Common Sense,” total $71,516. Those expenses include $33,860 for “research/polling” by Alabama-based Hill Research Consultants, as well as $18,000 to WR Communications and $9,000 to Katy Atkinson & Associates for “campaign consulting.”

The expense report filed by the newer entity, Main Street Longmont, shows no contributions but about $265,000 in expenses, all paid to Colorado Media & Mail, which has been paid for duties related to the campaign’s website, photography, advertising, graphic design, yard signs, contractors and research, according to the filings.

Among other efforts, the campaign has mailed Longmont residents a full-color flier featuring seven former Republican mayors who are opposing Question 300.

The documents show that Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont, the proponents of the fracking ban, has raised $12,873, and has spent $9,938 on things like petition drives, promotional material, fliers, filing, handouts and newspaper ads.

“The oil and gas industry has done their utmost to intimidate Longmont residents by spending an astonishing $300,000 to defeat this citizen-led effort to protect health, safety and property,” Sam Schabacker, Food & Water Watch’s mountain west director, told BW via email. “The oil and gas industry is hiding behind a slick PR firm and former Longmont mayors. This report makes it clear that Halliburton, Chevron and Encana are willing to spend massive amounts of money to keep Longmont residents from voting ‘Yes on 300’ to prohibit fracking next to their homes and schools.”

Bill Ray, spokesperson for Main Street Longmont, replied via email, “If this was a ban on soda pop, then no one would be surprised that Coke and Pepsi are supporting the campaign.”