The Boulder, CO, County Commission has been forced to revise its security plan in the wake of disruptive and threatening actions by environmental activists at a recent Commission hearing on the use of public land for natural gas extraction.

At a hearing on Tuesday, a group of activists shouted down speakers and tried to prevent dissenting voices from being heard, according to a release from the Commission and news reports from the hearing.

The Commission condemned the “mob harassment” of activists who “came to disrupt the public hearing on proposed Land Use Code regulations for oil and gas development in unincorporated Boulder County.”

As a county, we have a long history of respecting the First Amendment rights of all, and as a Board we greatly respect and appreciate the opinions and information which was brought forth at the hearing and for the respect and conduct of the majority of attendees once the hearing was underway.

The troubling activities last night included the disruption at the beginning of the hearing by a group of individuals intent on overpowering anyone in the room with an opinion different than their own; the jeering of a spokesperson from the oil and gas industry during her testimony – and mob harassment, cursing at and intimidation of the same representative and her colleagues as they left the building and walked several blocks to their cars; a bullying atmosphere in and around the hearing room; and outbursts of cheering for threatening rhetoric aimed at quashing opposing opinions.

Suppressing alternative comments and shutting out voices through intimidation and fear is not part of the democratic process we hold dear. As your publicly elected officials, we strive to create a safe environment for people of all opinions to come forward and provide input and feedback in our public hearings.

According to the Commission, activists even attempted to “threaten and intimidate” a public speaker as she walked to her car.

While activists warned of the potential environmental dangers of hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to extract oil and gas from shale formations, most observers note that the risks are minimal.

“There have been tens and thousands of wells in Colorado,” noted Governor John Hickenlooper (D) earlier this year, “and we can’t find anywhere in Colorado a single example of [hydraulic fracturing] that has polluted groundwater.”

“[T]here has been no verified instance of harm to groundwater caused by hydraulic fracturing in Colorado,” according to the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner.