A new investigation by Greenpeace reveals that one of Colorado’s most prominent political power couples have extremely close ties to six different pro-fracking front organizations funded by oil and natural gas industries. These front organizations are the biggest detractors of legislation challenging regulations on hydraulic fracturing in Colorado, a state which has emerged as one of the biggest battlegrounds over the continued practice of the controversial mining method.
Greenpeace reports that former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry and his wife Kristen Strohm, founder of Republican PR firm The Starboard Group, helped to develop fake grassroots pro-fracking campaigns for shale companies, along with coordinating legal initiatives. The creation of fake or secretly-interest-backed grassroots public advocacy groups is colloquially known as “astroturfing.”
According to Greenpeace, Penry – whose legacy as a State Senator includes multiple bills to create gas-fired electric power plants – became Vice President of the PR and consulting firm EIS Solutions, which was last year caught forging signatures on a petition denouncing fracking regulations.
The Greenpeace investigation identifies three pro-fracking non-profits that were created by EIS employees or are registered under EIS’ address: Colorado Liberty Alliance, Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale and Grow Our Western Economy. The investigation also connects Penry to pro-fracking front group Vital for Colorado. Penry coordinates messaging and communications for the group while his wife sits on the group’s advisory board. Greenpeace also identifies the Western Colorado Jobs Alliance and the Common Sense Policy Roundtable Forum as front groups created by Strohm’s Starboard Group.
Greenpeace reports that both Strohm and Penry share close connections with the Koch brothers; both The Starboard Group and EIS Solutions have provided consulting services for the Koch brothers’ Americans For Propserity advocacy front group.
Notably, despite its current intergovernmental anti-regulation wars, earlier this year Colorado became the first state to enact strict regulations on methane emissions from fracking.