Company’s entrance into fracking debate upsets Republicans

Five local lawmakers have taken aim at national outdoor clothing firm Patagonia for its stance on hydraulic fracturing.

The Ventura, Calif.-based company that routinely gets involved in environmental issues has recently backed two campaigns in Colorado opposing the practice of fracking in natural gas development.

The lawmakers, all Republicans, say the company decision to do so is misguided and based on faulty reasoning.

“We would call to your attention the damage your recent and ill-thought-out anti-fracing (sic) campaign is doing to the people and the economy of both our region and our state,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Patagonia Chief Executive Officer Casey Sheahan. “The damage that may be caused is all the more regrettable because your statements are not based on any facts about the real world of fracing (sic).”

The lawmakers who signed the letter are Sens. Steve King of Grand Junction and Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs and Reps. Ray Scott of Grand Junction, Jared Wright of Fruita and Robert Rankin of Glenwood Springs.

In it, the lawmakers say the company actually benefits from fracking, saying their clothing is a high-end product that only people who make more money can afford to buy.

The two campaigns the company has backed include Frack Free Colorado and the Thompson Divide Coalition.

The first one backed recent ballot questions in last week’s elections in Boulder, Fort Collins, Lafayette and Broomfield to ban the practice within their borders. Three of them passed, but the one in Broomfield still is too close to call.

The second one seeks to end the practice in the Thompson Divide area, a 221,000-acre area of federal land that includes part of Mesa and Garfield counties. About half of that land is leased for natural gas development.

The company, known for making its products out of recycled materials, has long gotten involved in environmental issues, and, according to a Los Angeles Times article on the company last year, is making a ton of money as a result.

On its website, Sheahan writes about fracking, saying the chemicals used in the process to get more natural gas out of the ground can forever taint area groundwater supplies.

“One fracking well uses an average of 2 million to 8 million gallons of water and 10,000 to 40,000 gallons of chemicals,” Sheahan writes. “Sixty percent of those chemicals can harm the brain and nervous system, 40 percent are known endocrine disrupters, 30 percent are suspected carcinogens, 30 percent are developmental toxicant.”

In their letter, the lawmakers argue that banning fracking would lead to job losses and a depressed economy on the Western Slope, saying Sheahan should “learn the facts about hydraulic fracturing before rashly setting off on a crusade that can only result in real harm being done to real people.”


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Charles Ashby’s report (“Company’s entrance into fracking debate upsets Republicans”) exposes the hypocrisy of three local Republican politicos:  Steve King, Ray Scott, and Jared Wright.

Unfortunately, without access to the complete text of their cited letter, it is difficult to determine whether these hucksters for the oil and gas industry base their objections on documented facts rather than self-serving generalizations, and/or whether they are now “upset” because Patagonia’s factual assertions are provably inaccurate, or because that reputable company does not buy the propaganda these shills have spouted for years.

Patagonia’s purported “sin” was supporting campaigns for more local control of fracking operations within defined boundaries.  But, nothing could be more “republican” than local regulation of activities potentially threatening public health, safety, and/or welfare.
While the only actual “damage” would be marginally decreased production and higher costs of complying with local requirements, our Republican legislators would cynically subordinate public health, safety, and welfare to the economic interests of the industry.

Presumably, the letter-writers offer no substantiation for their claim that Patagonia’s statements “are not based on any facts about the real world of fracing (sic)” – without mentioning that any such dearth of “facts” is deliberately perpetuated by the industry.  Until Congress repeals the “Halliburton Exceptions” to the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts, both the EPA and state regulators are prohibited from regulating fracking wells as “underground injection wells” as Congress originally intended, and from regulating potentially toxic “fracking fluids” as the “pollutants” they are.

It is also hypocritical for these Republicans to suggest that a for-profit company operating in a free enterprise economy is incapable of accurately assessing its economic interests.  Instead, they bear the burden of proving that localized fracking bans “would lead to job losses and a depressed economy of the Western Slope” justifying the uncertain risks.

I just checked out some of the clothing on Patagonia’s site. They offer materials such as Polyester (a petroleum product) and Down, (feathers plucked from fowl). I’m also sure they use their share of electricity in their manufacturing process and gas/oil in their personal and corporate vehicles. I will boycott this company if for no other reason than their energy hypocrisy.

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