Protect Colorado

Mission Statement

“Protect Colorado is here to support state and local ballot initiatives promoting responsible oil and natural gas development, and oppose state and local ballot initiatives attempting to limit or ban oil and natural gas development, including any ban or restriction on hydraulic fracturing.

We support responsible oil and natural gas development, which is vital to Colorado’s economic future. We promote the numerous benefits that oil and natural gas development provides to Colorado communities.”

Summary

Protect Colorado (legal name: Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy, And Energy Independence) is a political committee  created by the oil and gas public relations group Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED). It receives significant funding from the oil and gas industry. The group opposes any citizen-led efforts that could limit oil and gas profits. The group has even been linked to bullying and harassment of advocacy groups.

Notable Activities and Statements on Public Lands Policy

Protect Colorado was Created by the State’s Largest Oil and Gas Companies.

Protect Colorado Was Formed to “Fight Back” Against Ballot Measure “Onslaught.” Protect Colorado spokeswoman Karen Crummy explained in a statement as to why Protect Colorado was created. “Crummy added that “Protect Colorado was formed when the energy industry was facing an onslaught of ballot measures and the very deep pockets of one Colorado Congressman who had hundreds of millions of dollars. These measures had the potential to put the industry out of business so we had to fight back.” [Christopher Osher, “Oil in Colorado’s political machine,” Denver Post, 07/16/17]

Protect Colorado was formed by Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED). “The group behind the campaign calls itself “Protect Colorado,” short for “Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence.” It’s a politics issue committee organized by a public-relations group called Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, or CRED, which is funded by the two most active Front Range oil-and-gas companies, Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy.” [John Tomasic, “Oil-and-gas group failed to file finance reports in Loveland fracking election,” The Colorado Independent, 07/07/14]

  • A Report on the 1993 Firestone Home Explosion Identified Anadarko and Noble Energy as Funders of Groups Including CRED and Protect Colorado to Influence Public Perception.” In the report, released in 2018, about the 1993 explosion at a home which killed two men and seriously injured a woman, it was alleged that Anadarko failed to spend enough money to properly remediate oil and gas wells that they knew were safety hazards and had spent “tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars via CRED, Protect Colorado and other pathways of influence in their effort to persuade the public of their commitment to ‘responsible energy development,’ which now appears to be perhaps the biggest myth of all.” [Rico Moore, “‘Sportsmen’ beware,” Boulder Weekly, 06/07/18]

Protect Colorado Receives Significant Funding from the Oil and Gas Industry.  

Oil and Gas Companies Have Made Large Donations to Protect Colorado. As of May 16th, 2018, “Protect Colorado, created by the state’s largest oil and gas companies …raised $8.4 million in contributions to fight for, they say, the very future of drilling in the state” and its contributions from mid-May 2018 include:

  • $2.47 million from Anadarko;

  • $2.19 million from Extraction Oil & Gas;

  • $1.98 million from Noble Energy;

  • $0.79 million from SRC;

  • $0.37 million from PDC;

  • $0.36 million from Liberty;

  • $0.10 million from HRM;

  • $0.09 million from Whiting Oil & Gas;

  • $0.04 million from Bayswater; and

  • $0.03 million from Colorado Concern. [Ben Markus, “Protect Colorado Has A $8.4M Piggy Bank Ready To Do Battle This November,” Colorado Public Radio, 06/01/18]

Protect Colorado Has Received $4.4 Million from Anadarko Petroleum and $2.5 Million from Noble Energy Though July 2018. Through the end of July 2018 it “raised $13 million in the…cycle, mostly from oil and gas companies – $4.4 million of it from Anadarko Petroleum and $2.5 million from Noble Energy, the two biggest oil well operators in Colorado.” [Greg Avery, “Effort to make Colorado governments pay for hurting property values turns in petitions in bid for ballot,” Denver Business Journal, 08/06/18]

Two-Thirds of Protect Colorado’s Contributions Since 2012 Have Come from Anadarko and Noble Energy. The “campaign finance records and political activity reports” of Anadarko and Noble Energy show “that since 2012, the companies are responsible for two thirds of the money given to… Protect Colorado, which has spent $30 million since 2013 on ballot initiatives and issues. [Christopher Osher, “Oil in Colorado’s political machine,” Denver Post, 07/16/17]

The Oil and Gas Industry Given at least $43 Million to Protect Colorado Since 2006. “Protect Colorado, which has taken in more than $43 million from the oil and gas industry since 2006, announced Monday afternoon it was preparing a challenge to ballot Initiative No. 97.” [Marianne Goodland, “Campaign finance measure supporters turn in record number of signatures,” Durango Herald, 08/07/18]

Protect Colorado Works to Influence Public Perception on Behalf of the Oil and Gas Industry.

When Anadarko Was Contacted Regarding Connections to Pro-Fracking Protesters, Protect Colorado Responded Instead. Colorado Public Radio “reached out to Anadarko to inquire about their connection to the protestors [who were reportedly harassing activists]. Instead, Protect Colorado responded.” [Sam Brasch, “Protests To Slow Signature Efforts: Another Front In Colorado’s Oil And Gas Ballot Battle,” Colorado Public Radio, 07/26/18]

Protect Colorado was Named in a Report that Examined Efforts by Oil and Gas Companies to Influence Public Perception. In the report released in 2018 about the 1993 explosion at a home which killed two men and seriously injured a woman, it was alleged that Anadarko failed to spend enough money to properly remediate oil and gas wells that they knew were safety hazards and had spent “tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars via CRED, Protect Colorado and other pathways of influence in their effort to persuade the public of their commitment to ‘responsible energy development,’ which now appears to be perhaps the biggest myth of all.” [Rico Moore, “‘Sportsmen’ beware,” Boulder Weekly, 06/07/18]

Protect Colorado’s Opposes Citizen-Led Efforts That Affect Oil and Gas Profits.

Protect Colorado Was Specifically Formed to Oppose Citizen-Led Initiatives That Would Limit Oil and Gas Profits. “The oil and gas industry front group Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy, and Energy Independence (Protect Colorado)[…] “was formed specifically to fight against any citizen initiative that could hinder oil and gas industry profits. Among its activities are pushing industry-spawned initiatives that make it harder for citizens to get measures on the ballot along with other political activity like directing campaign contributions to pro-oil candidates, even at the city council level.” [Rico Moore, “‘Sportsmen’ beware,” Boulder Weekly, 06/07/18]

Protect Colorado Donated $2.8 Million to a Campaign That Would Make It More Difficult for Citizen Initiatives to Qualify For the Ballot. Protect Colorado gave $2.8 million to the Raise the Bar campaign, which supported Amendment 71, which would require at least 2 percent of registered voters to sign any petition for a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to qualify for the ballot and would require an approval of 55 percent of voters to pass a constitutional amendment. [Cathy Proctor, “Colorado oil and gas industry backs tighter rules on changing constitution,” Denver Business Journal, 09/20/16]

Protect Colorado Opposed Giving Local Officials More Oversight Regarding Oil and Gas Development.

Protect Colorado Supported An Effort to Ensure the State Had Primary Say Over Oil and Gas Developments. “Protect Colorado is supporting the effort to add to the state constitution [via ballot initiative] the clear statement that the state has primacy over oil and gas development.” [Mark Jaffe, “Another push for oil and gas measures on the Colorado ballot,” Colorado Springs Gazette, 06/14/18]

Protect Colorado Opposes Allowing Local Officials to Ask for Health and Safety Studies Regarding Potential Hazards Near Residential Areas. “After Question 301 made the ballot in Broomfield, the oil and gas industry launched its now-familiar money-fueled asymmetrical political warfare, outspending its opponents about 50 to 1 in…[one] round of reported spending. Industry dollars…[supported] a ubiquitous media blitz, with ‘I ♥ Fracking’ billboards along interstates and pro-industry television and radio ads.” Many of the ads were paid for by “‘Vote No on 301,’ a group registered in Broomfield that has been funded entirely by industry money,” including “$340,000 from just four groups: the petroleum council, plus the Colorado Economic Leadership Fund, Vital for Colorado and Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence. (Combined, the latter three groups received $5.8 million from Noble Energy in 2016.) Not a single donation came from an individual donor.” [Daniel Glick, “FRACTURED: Undermining Broomfield,” Colorado Independent, 10/30/17]

Protect Colorado Opposed Measures That Would Give Local Governments More Say Regarding Oil and Gas Activity and Require Mandatory 2,500-Foot Setbacks. In 2016, Initiative 75 was proposed give local governments more say in citing and regulating oil and gas activity in their jurisdictions” and Initiative 78 was proposed to address the concerns around how fracking affects public health and submitted “mandatory 2,500-foot setbacks between certain energy development and houses, schools and water sources. ”Karen Crummy, spokeswoman for Protect Colorado, said: “‘These measures are so extreme and such a threat to Colorado’s economy that we’ve got the commitments to spend $24 million to fight them.’” [Daniel Glick and Kelsey Ray, FRACTURED: Part I, Who’s behind ‘decline to sign’ efforts?,” Colorado Independent, 07/27/16, Jacy Marmaduke, “Significant funding gap in Colorado fracking fight,” Fort Collins Coloradoan, 08/17/16]

  • Protect Colorado Was Linked to An Ad Agency that Hired People to Hold Signs Asking Voters to Decline to Support These Initiatives. One of their front groups  was Protect Colorado, which sought “to thwart citizens from qualifying the two measures for the ballot.” “The industry…made efforts to keep its ‘decline to sign’ campaign’s public face a little lighter – and even funny. It…hired people to dress up as yellow, life-sized pencils, complete with pink eraser tops, to wander the streets of Denver with signs that say, ‘Decline to sign #75 & #78.’” An “unidentified pencil guy” was “asked how much he gets paid and whether there were other jobs like his to be had. Pencil guy pulls out his phone and gives the name and phone number of the ad agency that hired him. When The Independent called that number, a woman answered the phone, then turned the phone over to her boss. He called his client to ask them how to handle the media inquiry. The ad man suggested we call Karen Crummy at Protect Colorado.” [Daniel Glick and Kelsey Ray, FRACTURED: Part I, Who’s behind ‘decline to sign’ efforts?,” Colorado Independent, 07/27/16]

Protect Colorado Was Linked to Bullying and Harassment of Anti-Fracking Advocacy Groups.

Anti-Fracking Organizers Reported Harassment and Intimidation. Allegations included harassment, discouraging people from signing any petitions, intimidation and volunteers being followed home. Protect Colorado spokeswoman Karen Crummy said, ‘We have also asked the public and oil and gas employees to let us know when they see individuals gathering signatures on the 2,500-foot setback measure.” [Charlie Brennan, “Boulder-based advocates of anti-fracking initiative facing hurdles,” Daily Camera, 08/01/18]

Anti-Fracking Activists Accused Oil Industry of “Organized Harassment.” Yes for Health and Safety worked to get Initiative 75 and Initiative 78 on the ballot against “‘industry’s well-funded ‘Decline to Sign’ counter-campaign, including TV commercials and billboards – considered an aggressive move just to keep the measures off the ballot – and even accused industry of ‘organized harassment’ against its petitioners. ‘Bullies shouldn’t decide our future,’ Tricia Olson, the Yes for Health and Safety spokesperson, said in a statement. [Joshua Zaffos, “Fracking initiatives make state a battleground,” High Country News, 08/17/16]

Protect Colorado Acknowledged They Monitor “the Opposition.” Protect Colorado spokeswoman Karen Crummy said, “This is standard practice in modern campaigns. We get asked about activities in the field and want to understand what the proponents are saying and whether it’s accurate. Monitoring the opposition is important.’” [Charlie Brennan, “Boulder-based advocates of anti-fracking initiative facing hurdles,” Daily Camera, 08/01/18]

Protect Colorado Failed to File Local Campaign Finance Reports

Protect Colorado Did Not File the Proper Campaign Finance Reports with the City of Loveland. Protect Colorado was registered with the state to engage in political messaging but not with the city of Loveland. “Protect Colorado filed none of the required issue committee documents with Loveland that would have detailed its contribution totals and spending activity.” [John Tomasic, “Oil-and-gas group failed to file finance reports in Loveland fracking election,” The Colorado Independent, 07/07/14]

Lobbying and political contributions:

Not listed as lobbyist or client in Colorado

(Source: Colorado Secretary of State, Online Lobbyist System –  https://www.sos.state.co.us/lobby/Home.do)

No contributions to politicians

Protect Colorado Has the Same Address as Senate Majority Fund, Which Works to Elect Republicans via Political Advertisements. “Protect Colorado has the same address as the Senate Majority Fund, a group that works to elect Republicans to the state Senate through political advertisements. Republicans successfully defeated several oil and gas regulatory bills last session. One would have required state regulators to consider public health and safety when issuing drilling permits. Another would have increased the 1,000-foot setback from school buildings to school property boundaries. Another would have required state regulators to give local governments maps of natural gas flowlines. And another would have increased spill and leak incident reporting requirements. All bills were voted down in Republican-controlled Senate committees on party-line votes.” [John Herrick, “Colorado oil and gas industry prepares for battle at the ballot box as production booms,” Colorado Independent, 07/26/18]

Revenue and expenditures:

Revenue:

2016: $15,083,249

All revenue from “Other gifts and grants”

2015: $2,934,204

2014: $11,618,972

2013: NA

Top 10 Contributors to Protect Colorado 2014-18

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

TOTAL

Anadarko Petroleum Corp

$2,470,500

$0

$5,662,500

$1,050,000

$4,115,236

$13,298,236

Noble Energy Inc

$2,470,500

$0

$5,627,500

$1,050,000

$4,115,236

$13,263,236

PDC Energy

$1,877,580

$0

$981,800

$500,000

$750,000

$4,109,380

Extraction Oil & Gas

$2,184,650

$0

$250,000

$250,000

$25,000

$2,709,650

Bayswater Exploration & Production

$356,200

$0

$500,000

$500,000

$525,000

$1,881,200

Whiting Oil & Gas Corporation

$185,500

$0

$300,000

$250,000

$1,000,000

$1,735,500

Synergy Resources Corporation

$1,000,000

$1,000,000

SRC Energy Inc

$790,560

$0

$790,560

Pioneer Natural Resources

$100,000

$500,000

$600,000

Coloradans For Responsible Energy Development

$526,109

$55,496

$581,605

Source: Colorado Secretary of State

http://tracer.sos.colorado.gov/PublicSite/SearchPages/CommitteeDetail.aspx?OrgID=26709

Expenses

2016: $15,627,705

Advertising and Promotion:$7,512,769

Other expenses: $4,909,146

Grants to other organizations: $2,795,000

Legal: $402,000

2015: $2,932,845

2014: $10,873,986

2013: NA

Source:  Protect Colorado Form 990 2014-16