Fractivism Went Off the Rails and Into the Dirt in 2017


Keep It Grounded In Fact
(American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers)


Fractivism and related “Keep-It-in-the-Ground” type movements ran completely off the rails in 2017, plowing themselves into the dirt rhetorically speaking.

As we take stock of 2017 and prepare for the new year, it’s a good time to look back at some of the colossal missteps by “Keep It in the Ground” activists. These extremists, who seek to keep oil and natural gas “in the ground” regardless of the detrimental effects to all of us, upped their rhetoric (and hypocrisy) to new levels as they sought to counter the millions of ways that oil and gas products make Americans’ lives better. Below are a few of their most egregious fails.


A protestor pours gasoline on a fire blocking North Dakota Hwy. 1806, north of Cannon Ball. Photo:Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

1.       Endangering others

A hallmark of “Keep It in the Ground” activists is their disregard for the welfare of others—whether it’s the locals in the areas they occupy, the law enforcement officials tasked with attempting to keep order, or the other innocent bystanders affected by their reckless actions. This disregard was dramatically highlighted at the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline:

  • In the towns and areas surrounding the #NoDAPL protest camp in North Dakota, the locals were harassed and intimidated by activists. A report by the County Sheriffs’ Office recounted that “Families reported fear of leaving their homes and farmsteads; strangers taking photos or videotaping rural residents; vehicles and masked protestors playing chicken with local residents on county roads or shaking fists at them as they drive by; … families staying in Bismarck-Mandan hotels out of fear for their own personal safety; rural route buses escorted to schools by law enforcement.”
  • And law enforcement was hardly immune to these threats. On at least one occasion “[a]ctivists threw rocks, burned tires, set blazes, lobbed Molotov cocktails and even fired gunshots” at officers. But activists went beyond physically attacking police—they also threatened the wives and families of officers.
  • Even children at the #NoDAPL camps weren’t safe from endangerment by activists. For instance, when protesters set fire to shelters and a vehicle on their way out of camp, two children were burned, a seven-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl—who had to be airlifted to a hospital in Minneapolis.
  • And when cleanup crews shifted into high gear after the protesters left, they found at least two dogs and six puppies that had been abandoned amidst the snow and trash. According to the local Fox affiliate, “The two dogs that they’ve saved have shown symptoms of being out in the North Dakotan weather with frost bit ears and patchy fur.”

2.       Hypocrisy

If there’s one consistent failing among KIITG activists, it’s hypocrisy. After all, they would be unable to get to rallies; make their posters, banners, and signs; or stay warm and dry without oil and natural gas products. But activists took their hypocritical shortcomings to a whole new level in 2017, such as when:

  • The self-identified “water protectors” protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline left behind 48 million pounds of trash—including tents, vehicles, human waste, and food—in the floodplain of the very Cannonball River that they were ostensibly trying to protect. As North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum noted, the garbage they left constituted “probably the biggest ecological mess on the entire Missouri River system.”
  • Some rather ripe “water protectors” in Texas decided to take a dip … in the water tower that holds the locals’ drinking water. Just another example of how largely out-of-state activists come in and cause hardship for locals before bugging out to the next Instagram-worth venue.
  • An academician at Johns Hopkins advocated what he euphemistically called population engineering to fight climate change. “Here’s a provocative thought,” he told NPR, “Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them.” And by “we,” he actually means you—because Rieder already has a daughter, who he describes as “the most amazing thing we’ve ever done with our lives.”

Photo: Amy Sisk/Inside Energy Piles of debris remain at Oceti Sakowin, the main Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp.

3.       Advocating killing oil and gas employees

A despicable new level of rhetoric emerged in 2017, one that implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) endorses harming and/or killing employees of the oil, natural gas, and associated industries.

  • fractivismAn activist in Colorado, Andrew J.O’Connor (pictured to right), tried to make the case for killing workers earlier this year, writing in a Boulder Daily Camera letter to the editor, “don’t we have a moral responsibility to blow up wells and eliminate fracking and workers?” When called on his statement, he doubled down, stating “I wouldn’t have a problem with a sniper shooting one of the workers” at a well site.
  • More recently, a Michigan State University assistant professor created “Thunderbird Strike,” a video game that allows a player to fly over oil production facilities and earn points by “firing lightning at snakelike pipelines, trucks and other oil industry structures”… and presumably the employees working in or around them.

Hopefully, 2018 will see these activists rethinking their increasingly extreme and misguided positions.

Editor’s Note: Readers may be interested to know Andrew J. O’Connor, the guy who advocated killing oil and gas workers, ran for the Lafayette, Colorado City Council after his threat was published, generating quite the controversy. He got an incredible 786 votes. It was but 2.84%, not nearly enough to win, but he came in ahead of three other candidates and the fact there are 786 voters in Lafayette who supported a wanna-be killer as a government official is nothing less than outrageous. Adding to the outrage is the fact O’Connor is a lawyer who, most of us would agree, ought to be disbarred for advocating a crime. What’s the matter with Lafayette, anyway?

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