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As if Colorado needed more evidence that the fracking debate has gone hyper-polar …

Author: Dan Njegomir - September 12, 2017 - Updated: September 12, 2017

Anti-fracking demonstrators — one in hazmat garb, the other mugging as Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones — attempt to present Jones a mock “green-washing award.” (Photo: East Boulder United via Facebook)

… A group of anti-fracking protesters in Boulder (OK, so that’s redundant; everyone in Boulder is against fracking) converged on what they thought was the residence of Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones over the weekend. The fracktivists’ planned stunt — donning HAZMAT gear and presenting a “Green Washing Award” to Jones at her house — went off without a hitch except one: She wasn’t home. Because she doesn’t actually live at the Marine Street residence where the pickets gathered.

As the Boulder Daily Camera reported Monday, Jones is a co-owner of record for the house but rents the place out. That evidently confused the 50 or so fracktivists who showed up:

In a news release, an organization identifying itself as Boulder County Protectors said about 50 community members had marched “on a home of politically compromised Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones asking her to resign.”

After being sent a copy of the news release, however, Jones — who now lives in the 1100 block of Sixth Street in Boulder — said in a Sunday night email that the protesters “went to a house I haven’t lived in for almost five years.

“Happily, no one was at home, but as you might imagine, the current residents were very confused when they came home to find an oil drum in the driveway and threatening chalk messages drawn up and down the sidewalk and the steps to the house,” Jones wrote.

The protest was a bit over-the-top, to be sure — but what really illustrated how extreme the fury over fracking has gotten was the demonstrators’ choice of target: A member of the Boulder County Commission.

That’s the same elected body that had stared down Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman earlier this year over the county’s moratorium on drilling permits while it revised its regulations on the subject. As county commissions go, Boulder’s has been in the forefront of the fracking fracas.

And why Elise Jones, in particular? From 1999 to 2012, she was executive director of the Colorado Environmental Coalition — which made her one of the state’s most prominent voices in the environmental movement. Wouldn’t that make her the protesters’ ally?

So what’s the beef? The Camera explains:

Anti-fracking groups have criticized Jones and her fellow county commissioners for not adopting a “Climate Bill of Rights” or advancing such a measure to county voters’ ballots.

Among its other provisions, the proposed Climate Bill of Rights would assert that county residents have “a right to a healthy climate, which shall include the right to be free from all activities that interfere with that right, including the extraction of coal, oil or gas, or disposal of drilling waste within the County of Boulder.”

Boulder County commissioners, however, have said they have no legal standing to ignore state laws and Colorado Supreme Court decisions prohibiting local governments from banning oil and gas exploration within those governments’ jurisdiction — and that a Climate Bill of Rights would not give the county authority to do so.

A statement read outside Jones’s home — well, the home protesters thought was her home— accused Jones of having “built a career out of collaborating with extraction.”

That likely would come as news to the extractive industry — which long has viewed Jones as an adversary.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is a blogger and opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.