Hickenlooper, oil and gas center of attention today

Aspen Daily News Staff Report
There’s plenty going on today at both ends of the valley that centers around oil and gas drilling and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — everything from a protest against his stance on fracking to a rally in an attempt to prevent activity in the Thompson Divide to a $550 VIP table at the private Caribou Club with the Democratic leader late night.

Hickenlooper will be in Aspen today to talk about decision-making, leadership and views from the state house, along with four other governors at the Aspen Institute.

The gathering, featuring Hickenlooper, Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Jay Inslee of Washington and Peter Shumlin of Vermont, will occur after the Democratic Governors Association meeting to be held at the St. Regis Aspen Hotel.

The governors will speak about their priorities, issues and successes from 2-3 p.m. at the Greenwald Pavilion at the Institute, after their meeting.

Starting at 12:30 p.m. in front of the St. Regis, hundreds of demonstrators plan to gather in an attempt to hold Hickenlooper and the other governors accountable for their support of fracking. Through a series of demonstrations, they also plan to demand a renewable energy future.

The event is being organized by Protect Our Colorado, a statewide coalition dedicated to protecting the state from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking.”

“Protect Our Colorado aims to ensure that these important state leaders and presidential hopefuls know that support for fracking is unacceptable and unpopular with voters, and to urge them to chart a course for a renewable energy future,” reads a press release about today’s event.

 Event co-hosts include Protect Our Colorado, 350 Colorado, CODEPINK, Food & Water Watch, Americans Against Fracking, Frack Free Colorado, Earth Guardians, Frack Free Boulder, BoCoCCR, Erie Rising, EBCU and The Mothers Project.

The groups say they are alarmed by the impacts of fracking on water, air, climate, public health, safety, property values and quality of life. They are calling on state leaders to place a ban or moratorium on fracking, according to the press release.

Later in the day, a grassroots event has been organized in Glenwood Springs involving residents from communities throughout the region and representing a variety of interest groups. It’s aimed to be a significant show of support for the Thompson Divide.

The event, billed as the “Unified for Thompson Divide BBQ by the River,” will be held at Two Rivers Park from 4-7 p.m.

Crystal River Meats will serve free burgers and hot dogs, and music will be provided by All the Pretty Horses and the Defiance String Band. There will be children’s activities, speakers, yoga, and a bike procession and river flotilla to the park.

Organizers say today’s event is intended to be educational and entertaining, not political, and it will emphasize the public’s support for keeping the Thompson Divide in its natural state, rather than opposition to drilling.

There will be organized bike rides to the barbecue from both Glenwood and Carbondale. The Glenwood ride meets at the Rio Grande parking lot next to Rosebud Cemetery at 3:15 p.m. and the Carbondale ride meets at Aloha Mountain Cyclery at 2:15 p.m.

“We’re working to send a strong message on Saturday,” said Paul Dudley from the Yoga Space Glenwood, whose staff will be offering free yoga, in the press release. “It’s not just a catch phrase. This community really is unified for the Thompson Divide.”

If a free event and a protest, or a $20 ticket to the governors’ conversation, isn’t enough, there is a get-together tonight at the Caribou that can get you in door for either $100 or $500.

The Colorado Democratic Party is hosting a fundraiser for Hickenlooper from 10 p.m. to bar time that offers a  VIP table for four with bottle service at a cost of $550. Individual or corporate donations are being accepted; corporate contributions must be made to the “Colorado Democratic Party Political Committee.” (Corporate contributions are limited to $550 per election cycle.) At a cost of $100, a “supporter” contribution is available for cash bar access. For more information, email agarnett@coloradodems.org

To buy tickets to the afternoon conversation with the five governors, log onto www.aspenshowtix.com.