Green and anti-fracking is new marketing plan
The frustration of five Western Slope lawmakers regarding the outdoor company Patagonia’s support for anti-fracking groups in Colorado is understandable, particularly when the CEO of the California company repeats an unproven allegation that fracking taints groundwater.
But we don’t expect that a letter sent from the five lawmakers to Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan will cause the company to reverse its position. Simply put, being green and supporting environmental causes is a sound marketing strategy for companies that attract young, environmentally conscious customers, as Patagonia does.
They’re hardly alone in that regard. Companies have been giving to community and global causes for a long time, in part to show customers they share their patrons’ desires to improve the world. Even energy companies regularly tout their environmental bona fides these days.
Patagonia has a long history of support for environmental groups, including several in Colorado. Groups that promote bicycling are among the most frequent recipients of its largesse. Patagonia’s giving to such groups dates back more than 35 years, according to the company’s website.
More troubling is the fact that the Fort Collins-based New Belgian Brewing Co., is also helping to lead the charge against hydraulic fracturing. But on its website, the beer company lists natural gas as a key component of its brewing process, although it says it is working to reduce its consumption of natural gas. Moreover, natural gas is listed under the section “Purchased Green Power” on the website.
Large corporations, of course, are as free as individuals to support causes they believe in. But one doesn’t have to ponder long to wonder why fracking is so high on the radar of companies like these, when the natural gas boom made possible by fracking is helping this country to substantially reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide. Reducing emissions of climate-change gases like CO2 is said to be a top priority of both companies.
So, where is their concern for other forms of environmentally harmful forms of energy? Just this week, the Associated Press produced a lengthy report on the problems created by the federal support of ethanol — marginal lands rushed into corn production, heavy use of fertilizers that pollute waterways and an apparent increase in CO2 emissions.
Yet ethanol subsidies have had the support of presidents and members of Congress of both parties, including Barack Obama. Only a few conservation groups have bothered to challenge this form of fuel. And corporations like Patagonia or New Belgium Brewing have not taken it on as a cause.
But then, protecting the farmland of the Midwest doesn’t connect with young, outdoorsy consumers as does stopping drill rigs from operating in the picturesque regions of the West.