Will the real Gwen Lachelt please step down? That’s no wisecrack, but a very serious question in Colorado because she’s using a position of political influence to strategically devastate the state’s petroleum industry – and saying otherwise.

Lachelt, a La Plata County Commissioner, is a long-time anti-oil and gas extremist who now co-chairs Democratic Governor John W. Hickenlooper’s oil and gas task force, a board of environmentalists and industry supporters convened to recommend drilling policies to the state legislature, debating key issues including a devastating fracking ban.

Lachelt says, “I have never taken a position to ban fracking” – which is technically true but realistically unbelievable. I have recorded the career of Gwen Lachelt and more than 250 other enviro activists since I wrote Undue Influence in 1999 and established its companion website a year later.

Take a look at Lachelt’s real history: She organized the Oil and Gas Accountability Project (originally the Citizens Oil and Gas Support Center) in 1999 in Durango, Colorado as a project of the rabidly anti-oil and gas San Juan Citizens Alliance.

Her early OGAP campaign, the Western Coalbed Methane Project attempted to stop all coalbed methane operations in the American West.

Another early campaign, Democratizing Oil & Gas Commissions (DOGCOM), attempted to remove anyone associated with the oil and gas industry from membership in Colorado’s Oil & Gas Commission.

By 2004, Lachelt was so successful as OGAP’s executive director ($42,000 salary) that the ultra-green Seattle-based software millionaire Paul Brainerd singled her out for a new strategy he had in mind: “market-based campaigns” to destroy a company’s finance and supply chain.

Brainerd’s foundation funded OGAP to hold “a workshop to train activists in Canada and the U.S. and to develop a corporate accountability campaign targeting one energy corporation that operates in both countries.”

With these instructions from Brainerd, OGAP and Canada’s Dogwood Initiative held the September, 2004 workshop for 40 activist leaders from all over Canada and the U.S., in a Denver venue. The workshop was titled, Corporate Energy Campaigning: Using financial pressure for conservation. Follow that link to see how vicious it was.

The corporate campaign was a tactic to destroy companies by targeting their banking and supplier relations, invented by labor organizer Raymond F. Rogers, Jr. in 1974 and well known among environmentalists by the 1980s. By 2008, it had been developed into a sophisticated nuclear option by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, deployed in their 2008 “Tar Sands Campaign” with its four-step corporate death march, “Raise the Negatives, Raise the Costs, Slow Down and Stop Infrastructure, and Enroll Key Decision Makers.”

Some of the OGAP workshop attendees. Photo: Dogwood Initiative

Some of the OGAP workshop attendees. Photo: Dogwood Initiative

Shortly after the OGAP workshop, Brainerd gave a “challenge grant” to the Washington, D.C.-based Mineral Policy Center (founded 1988), which had adapted the corporate campaign into an anti-mining tactic called “No Dirty Gold” under former Greenpeace leader, Steven D’Esposito. Brainerd directed the Mineral Policy Center to merge with the Oil and Gas Accountability Project and operate jointly under the new name, Earthworks. Brainerd lays out his strategy here.

Lachelt and D’Esposito immediately adapted the company-killing No Dirty Gold project, and co-founded the No Dirty Oil and Gas coalition. On Nov. 15, 2006, Earthworks registered the websites www.nodirtyoilandgas dot com and dot org.

OGAP, as part of  Earthworks, aggressively pushed for anti-oil and gas legislation in New Mexico in 2007, driving a number of oil and gas firms from the state, including Key Energy Services, which closed its Farmington, New Mexico natural gas operations in 2008, leaving 700 employees without a job.

Public outrage at Earthworks’ No Dirty Oil and Gas attacks made the name too shrill – and honest – and was morphed into “No Dirty Energy,” which it remains to this day.

That’s the real Gwen Lachelt. There’s no evidence that she has had a “Road to Damascus” persecution epiphany converting her to a moderate member of Hickenlooper’s oil and gas task force.

The task force itself was the result of a threat by a raging anti-oil and gas millionaire, Boulder Democrat U.S. Rep. Jared Polis. He accepted the task force as his price for withdrawing two ballot initiatives he funded that would have imposed devastatingly expensive restrictions on Colorado’s petroleum industry if they won. With out-of-state Big Green political money flooding in to support the initiatives, Hickenlooper couldn’t risk losing his state’s biggest industry. Thus we got the oil and gas task force.

Lachelt told The Durango Herald she has never taken a position on banning hydraulic fracturing but simply supports regulations on fracking, including under the Safe Drinking Water Act (with its environmental group lawsuit provisions).

Simply Raise the Negatives, Raise the Costs, Slow Down and Stop Infrastructure, Enroll Key Decision-Makers. Get rid of the companies and you get rid of fracking. And a large chunk of Colorado’s economy. She’s still the Queen of No Dirty Oil and Gas.

Is it time for a No Dirty Gwen Lachelt project?



  • Ron Arnold

    Ron is a free enterprise activist, author, and newspaper columnist. He pioneered methods to expose the money and power of Big Green in nine books and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles. He mentors promising activists and writers as a civic duty.