In remarks delivered on the House floor this morning, an elected official in Colorado condemned a letter to the editor published in the Boulder Daily Camera that called for violent attacks on oil and natural gas workers and facilities. The executive editor of the newspaper defended the letter a few days ago by invoking President Trump’s justification for a military strike against Syria earlier this month.

The Daily Camera published a letter to the editor last week that encouraged state residents to act violently against oil and natural gas workers and facilities. “If the oil and gas industry puts fracking wells in our neighborhoods, threatening our lives and our children’s lives, then don’t we have a moral responsibility to blow up wells and eliminate fracking and workers?” Andrew J. O’Connor wrote on April 19.

The letter was edited the following day to read “don’t we have a moral responsibility to take action to dissuade frackers from operating here?” The edited letter still contains violent rhetoric, claims “fracking equals murder,” and says using violence against the oil and gas industry would be the “intelligent” move for Colorado residents.

Colo. State Rep. Chris Hansen (D) delivering remarks on the floor this morning. Photo credit: Colorado Channel

“This type of rhetoric clearly goes too far,” said Colo. State Rep. Chris Hansen (D), addressing his colleagues on the House floor this morning.

“I have friends who work in energy companies, as I think many of us in this room do, and to call for eliminating workers simply goes too far,” Hansen continued. “We cannot accept this type of rhetoric that is calling for violence, that is calling for vigilantism. That is simply out of bounds in Colorado.”

The Daily Camera has spoken out in defense of the letter. On April 22, Executive Editor Kevin Kaufman wrote in an email to the Daily Caller that environmental activists could justify committing violent actions the same way President Trump justified his decision to strike a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed civilians.

“I suspect it was a violent act supported by both the right and left, but it also was one fundamentally based upon a moral question,” Kaufman wrote.

“So it’s ok for the U.S., currently under the leadership of a right-leaning president, to take violent action on moral grounds, but it is not ok for citizens of Boulder County to ask fellow citizens to consider even violent actions?” Kaufman asked.

Colorado Oil and Gas Association President and Chief Executive Officer Dan Haley called the Daily Camera to protest the letter the day it was published in print. In a statement to Western Wire today, Haley said that rhetoric against oil and natural gas development in Colorado has crossed a line.

“The public discourse in our country has been on a downward spiral for years, and in Colorado, local rhetoric around the oil and gas industry has reached a new and dangerous level,” Haley said.

“To have the editor of a major newspaper make a moral equivalency between blowing up oil and gas wells along the Front Range and bombing terrorists in Syria crosses the line,” Haley continued. “Where are the environmental groups who have whipped people into a frenzy over the past decade? Where are the local and state lawmakers who have been leading the charge against industry? I can’t imagine they agree with this type of dangerous rhetoric.”

“Our public leaders need to stand up to these blatant and veiled threats of violence,” he said. “Enough is enough.”