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Editorial: Fractivists threaten the poor

Anti-fracking crusaders claim they fight for minorities and the poor. They clearly do the opposite.

On the legislature’s last day of the 2015 session, Coloradans Against Fracking set up a mock classroom on the Capitol steps and placed dunce caps on figures portraying Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and the legislature. Each was given an “F” in “preventing harm to health and property caused by the Colorado oil and gas industry.” Hickenlooper has protected fracking because people in this state need jobs.

The Colorado Progressive Coalition chimed in with executive director Mike Roque instantly playing the race card.

“The State Legislature and Governor Hickenlooper have allowed gas & oil companies to continue to pollute and endanger the residents of low-income communities of color through continued fracking in northern Colorado and northeast Denver,” said Roque.

If these protesters cared about “low income communities of color,” they would defend a fracking revolution that has done more than any government program to help them. There is nothing like a $500-a-day job — entry-level fracking work — to dramatically improve the status of a low-income household.

All over Colorado and other energy states, fracking has put low-skilled workers into wage brackets traditionally reserved for college graduates. In North Dakota, where the fracking frenzy began, per-capita incomes jumped by 31 percent to $57,367 between 2008 and 2012.

The energy boom has directly added a half million high-wage jobs to the country’s economy since 2003. It is indirectly responsible for an additional 2 million careers in transportation, construction, information services and other sectors that benefit from the success of oil and gas companies. Fracking generates windfalls for school districts and other governing entities. Cities that were low income a decade ago — such as Greeley — enjoy unprecedented wealth. If energy independence prevents wars, the economic and social value will be incalculable.

As fracking raises the incomes of low-income Americans, it lowers their heating and transportation costs. By also reducing overhead for manufacturers, retailers, transport companies and countless employers, fracking cuts the costs of goods for low-income households. If government could pass a law to create fracking, it would be history’s most successful social program.

As for health and safety, the anti-energy crowd can win no prize. As the activist thespians sat in their dunce caps, another oil train full of Bakken crude went off the rails. It was the latest in a spate of oil train mishaps that have killed, threatened, harmed or evacuated mostly low-income people who live near the tracks.

“Accidents Surge as Oil Industry Takes the Train,” said the headline over a 2014 New York Times article, which appeared months before this year’s series of problems.

The Times story tied the rail dilemma to the lack of a pipeline. Every drop sent through a pipe is crude that won’t travel through neighborhoods by train. A major pipeline would free up rail service throughout the Midwest to transport agricultural commodities — aka food.

Alas, we can’t have the Keystone XL pipeline — which would safely transport North Dakota oil — because fractivists won’t stand for it.

Don’t let fracking opponents feign compassion for “low income people of color.” Their agenda contradicts the claim.

In related news, Anti-frack activist is officially barred from gas sites.

This article was from The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.