‘Fractivists’ young and old descend on Aspen confab

ASPEN — Thirteen-year-old Xiuhtezcatl Martinez worries about what the future holds environmentally, from climate change to the impacts of natural gas development.

Those concerns brought Martinez and other protesters, young and old, to Aspen on Saturday to try to catch the ears of Democratic governors in town for a convention. Organized by the Protect Our Colorado coalition, as many as 100 opponents of the hydraulic fracturing process used in drilling oil and gas wells picketed across the street from where governors were meeting at the St. Regis Aspen Resort.

It was an opportunity for self-described Colorado “fractivists” to take note of the drilling debate going on not just locally, but nationally.

“There’s a bunch of governors out there trying to make decisions about fracking right now,” said Martinez, part of a sizable group of youths who joined in Saturday’s rally.

“We’re here to support, really, and be part of the movement,” Martinez said.

Many of Saturday’s protesters came from the Front Range, where new drilling is running into opposition from many local residents.

“They’re getting ready to frack us,” said Rick Blotter, who lives in Elbert County.

He said he’s disappointed in his county’s failure to adopt strict oil and gas development regulations. He is one of many protesters Saturday who called for a statewide ban on fracking.

“Good Governors Don’t Frack Folks,” said a sign held by Blotter, who joined other protesters in criticizing Hickenlooper for his support of the oil and gas industry.

Micah Parkin, director of 350 Colorado and one of the protest organizers, said Hickenlooper has become a spokesman for industry despite a groundswell of concern among the public on oil and gas development.

“They don’t want it near their homes, kids and schools,” she said.

Hickenlooper alluded to the issue during a forum involving several of the governors Saturday in Aspen, defending Colorado’s oil and gas regulations as being stringent.

“No one wants the industry in their backyards but we all need the results,” he said.

Meeting briefly with some protesters after the forum, he told them the problem is that “our whole culture uses energy.”

During the forum, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee noted that states such as his and Colorado’s have required utilities to meet renewable energy standards. He said future generations deserve a clean environment, and some in the Republican Party are unwilling to deal with working on renewable energy.

“We are the party who’s going to do it,” he said.

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