Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis is taking heat from former supporters who feel duped by the congressman’s about-face on measures curbing hydraulic fracturing.
Former Polis fans called him a sellout and worse during a town-hall meeting in Boulder Tuesday that the Daily Camera reported as being loud and claustrophobic with “furious constituents.”
They were angry over Polis’s decision to scuttle plans to submit nearly 300,000 signatures gathered on petitions to place two anti-fracking measures on the November ballot.
One would have increased the distance between homes and drilling operations from 500 feet to 2,000 feet. The other would have included a so-called “environmental bill of rights” to the state constitution, allowing local governments the ability to pass more restrictive rules on oil and gas production than what’s required by the state.
But Polis dropped his support of the initiatives just before the deadline to submit the petitions for validation, instead joining with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper to endorse a task force to study the issue and make recommendations for future legislation aimed at protecting both the environment and the state’s economy. Hickenlooper was one of several Democrats alarmed at Polis’s proposals, saying they would be devastating to jobs and revenue.
One-time supporters who had hailed Polis as a hero now picketed and hurled insults at him, the Daily Camera reported, including at his mother, who attended the town hall.
Josh Fox, the director of the anti-fracking documentary “Gasland,” called Polis’s reversal “a betrayal of the democratic process.”
“I’m at the airport and I started to get these messages yesterday saying that these nearly 260,000-plus signatures have been pulled, and I thought, what are you talking about?” he told the Camera. “How is that possible?”
Polis spent about 40 minutes inside what the paper called a “frenzied huddle” before finally beginning the meeting. One angry constituent held a sign that read “House of Cards starring Jared Polis as ‘The Sellout.’”
In comments to the newspaper, Polis tried to put as bright a spin on the angry mob as he could.
“You see this enthusiasm here tonight,” he said. “It’s a message to the oil and gas industry: Take our concerns seriously.”
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