If you're looking for a crash course in how to be annoying, you could do worse than study the guerrilla tactics of Colorado Extraction Resistance, a group of activists bent on chafing the thick hides of energy interests who rely on hydraulic fracturing methods to drill for oil and gas. The group infiltrated a major industry gathering in downtown Denver last week, to noisy effect -- generating an online account of the affair that concludes, "It was much easier than you might think. All you need is fancy clothes, a few days for planning, and a little bit of raw nerve."
The Platts Rockies Oil & Gas conference annually attracts some of the biggest players in western energy production -- including Hess and Noble, Anadarko Petroleum, Bill Barrett and Continental Resources -- to talk about infrastructure, market outlook, supply chains and related issues. But this year's confab at the Grand Hyatt Denver also brought out Colorado Extraction Resistance's "Balloon Bloq" team, disguised in business attire to blend in as much as possible.
According to the group's own blustery account of its subterfuge, the first order of business was "reconnaissance of the hotel layout," followed by an effort to place "modified industry art" in bathrooms and on display tables, giving messages like this one time to sink in:
Here's another one:
Then the Balloon Bloq team headed for the conference ballroom, equipped with bunches of helium balloons tied to cheap personal alarms, available for a few bucks "online and at many hardware stores." They were intercepted by off-duty police providing security; but while one member of the group was being cuffed, another reportedly was able to release his balloons -- and shrieking alarm -- into the ballroom, temporarily halting the proceedings. (The arrested protester was charged with disturbing the peace and released a few hours later, the CER site reports.)
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A more conventional rally and protest was then held outside. The group, which claims to be drawing inspiration from recent actions by the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas, vows to stage similar protests in the near future. Here's a video of last week's action:
More from our Environment archive: "Fracking moratorium in Boulder County extended to June, residents placated -- for now."