Energy, Exclusives, Featured, Original Report, Sherrie Peif

Sierra Club burns fossil fuel to protest oil & gas industry; deletes Tweet after hypocrisy noted

DENVER — One of Colorado’s largest anti-fossil fuel activist groups has taken credit for a stunt relying on a significant amount of crude oil-derived airplane fuel to protest crude oil production in a message on Monday to a small handful of oil and gas proponents.

Banner paid for by Sierra Club and flown over oil and gas golf tournament Monday.

“WEA gets rich, CO gets stuck with the tab,” read the banner that circled in air above a golf tournament organized by Western Energy Alliance.

At first, it was not clear who was behind the ironic protest as there was no logo on the sign. But in a Tweet on Tuesday, the Colorado Sierra Club took credit for pulling the anti-oil and gas message over the golf course for about an hour.

Western Energy Alliance “hosted a golf outing yesterday to raise money to fight regulations so they can make Coloradans pay for their unplugged gas wells, health and safety hazards, and toxic messes,” the Tweet read. “We did a flyover to show them how Coloradans really felt about it. #healthandsafetyfirst.”

It didn’t take long, however, for the group to take down the Tweet after the president of Western Energy Alliance responded.

“Our golfers really had a good laugh,” Kathleen Sgamma said in her retweet. “Thx for highlighting how Colorado benefits from over $1 billion in tax revenue from the industry for schools, roads, and public health & safety funding. Thx also for burning all that jet fuel and directly lining our pockets.”

Deleted Tweet by Sierra Club

Sgamma told Complete Colorado the protest was juvenile and an exercise in futility, as there were only about 100 oil and gas proponents on the course.

“If they were trying to reach a broader audience, we don’t use the acronym WEA, so anybody looking that up on Google may come up with the Washington Education Association, but not us,” Sgamma said. “So, if they were trying to reach a broader audience, that broader audience wouldn’t know who they were talking about. It was clearly designed for social media, and they took that down, so that’s even not serious.”

Sgamma responded to the missing Tweet Wednesday.

“Huh??? Why did SierraClubCO take down the tweet about using 1000s of gallons of jet fuel to fly a sophomoric sign above our golf tournament?” Sgamma tweeted out Wednesday.

Sierra Club did not return requests for comment from Complete Colorado, but it did replace its original Tweet with a new one that read:

“Some golf to improve their swing, WesternEnergy1 golfs to raise money so they can force Coloradans too pay over $8 billion to plug their gas wells and clean up their toxic mess. Is it not enough that Coloradans are getting stuck with the air pollution?”

The Tweet included a video from a low flying aircraft following a golf cart around the course with a caption that read “WEA golfing and running away from their oil & gas mess.”

“It takes an extreme point of view to do that,” Sgamma said. “They must have unlimited funds or a singular focus or both to pull a stunt like that. That was easily a few thousand gallons of jet fuel they burned.”

Sgamma said the message was meaningless.

“Our industry provides over $1 billion a year in taxes back to the state,” she said. “The notion that we owe society more is just juvenile. We pour millions of dollars every year into local charities. Anywhere we operate we contribute to local causes. We host this event every year for our community to build that community.”

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