Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Dani Hemmat
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Local anti-fracking group fractures

 

March 21, 2019



Two of the founding members of The Lookout Alliance (TLA), Leesah Patt and Amanda Janusz, officially severed ties with the organization they founded and organized after the group and its mission were co-opted by LOGIC (League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans), according to a press release from the two women.

When oil and gas interests placed the Heatherwood mineral rights’ owners in their sights in November 2018, Janusz and Patt organized the community, recruited volunteers, and sponsored a town hall meeting attended by nearly 200 residents.

Both women teamed up with several other residents to form The Lookout Alliance with the goal of collaborating with other activist groups to stop fracking in Gunbarrel/Niwot and the rest of Boulder County threatened with oil and gas development.

Amanda Janusz, a self-proclaimed “environmental refugee” from Broomfield, moved to Boulder County two years ago to escape the large well pads now under construction in Broomfield. “After being part of the fracking fight in Broomfield, I saw how Broomfield City Council negotiated away its citizens’ health and safety. We had to move our kids away from 84 wells,” Janusz said. Leesah Patt and her family have been Gunbarrel residents for 21 years and don’t plan on becoming environmental refugees.

Janusz and Patt stated that LOGIC soon reached out to TLA via LOGIC’s paid organizer, Broomfield resident Laurie Anderson. According to Janusz and Patt, Anderson guided TLA’s leaders to disassociate with other anti-fracking groups. Anderson and Colorado Rising member and Heatherwood resident Tricia Olson guided the group to focus on lawsuits, legislation, and regulations. According to Patt, once Anderson and Olson became staples in TLA, the group dynamic shifted to reflect the pro-regulation strategy and goals of LOGIC and Colorado Rising, not the original mission of TLA, which was to stop fracking altogether.

Patt and Janusz decided to split off from TLA, citing their concerns that the group’s mission had been co-opted by LOGIC. They have yet to announce a new name for their group.

TLA representatives issued a statement regarding the split, stating “the mission of TLA includes cooperation with other groups dedicated to stopping fracking. To that end, from its inception TLA has met with members of LOGIC, Colorado Rising, and East Boulder County United (EBCU), seeking to learn from those who have been in the fight longer. Each of these groups has a different philosophy. Contrary to the claims of the departing members, no outside group initiated contact with TLA or tried to influence our decisions. We have worked to support all approaches, and to respect the ideas of all members. The departing members were supported by us in pursuing any course of action they chose. TLA remains committed to a multifaceted approach that uses all tools at our disposal to protect us from the dangers of fracking in the long and short term.”

Maintaining that the group’s leaders were guided by members of LOGIC, Patt said, “I put everything into this group for the purpose of protecting Boulder County from fracking. In the blink of an eye, my efforts were thwarted and I was usurped. The tactics were military in nature and well-executed. I underestimated the enemy (oil and gas companies), and that won’t happen again.”

TLA member Kimberley Rivero said, ”The fight against fracking is a long, tough one. Anti-fracking groups need to unify and trust one another. Personal attacks have no place in this fight and will only result in good people tiring of the fight too early. The Lookout Alliance encourages everyone with an interest in this issue to get involved with a local group that reflects their values. We will miss the passion of our departing members, but we want them to succeed because their fight is our fight.”

Gabrielle Katz, another founding member of TLA, viewed news of the split as an unnecessary distraction from the bigger issue at hand.

“The more divided we seem, the more power the oil and gas industry has in Colorado, and the less likely we are to succeed,” she said. “We need to keep our focus on the real fight against fracking in Boulder County and Colorado. In the end, having two local groups both focused on preventing fracking in our area will benefit the overall fight, but people need to understand that all of these groups are complementary and synergistic, not competitive or feuding.”

 

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