350 Colorado  Crashes Coffman’s Christmas for Cosponsoring a Backroom Attempt to Revive Keystone XL


On Wednesday, Dec. 21st, Colorado 350 supporters donned our gay apparel, warmed up our singing voices, pulled out a stocking and headed to Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman’s Lone Tree office.  But instead of chocolates or other nice things, this particular stocking was filled with ‘coal’ (don’t worry, they were actually just black rocks from my xeriscaped backyard). Why?

Last week Rep. Mike Coffman cosponsored legislation to revive the Keystone XL tar sands  oil pipeline project and attached this poison pill to payroll tax cut legislation.  We were disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that this move was preceded by $145,600 in donations from the industry pushing the project. (DirtyEnergyMoney.com.See DirtyEnergyMoney.com)

This is exactly the kind of nonsense that Americans are at our wits’ end with, so we decided to let Rep. Coffman know.

So dressed in our Santa hats and carrying signs summing up our sentiments, 28 of us marched up to Rep. Coffman’s office and crowded in, much to the surprise (and it appeared annoyance) of his staff.  We gave them the stocking, dumped a few pieces of the ‘coal’ on the desk, and delivered a group letter explaining our concerns (i.e. disgust) over the Congressman’s move to put corporate donors to his campaign before his own constituents.

One of our favorite parts of our visit was singing a few modified holiday carols we rewrote the day before – such as “Frosty the Oilman”. By the looks on the staffers’ faces, the lyrics clearly got our points across.  (Please feel free to reuse the carols – you can find them here.)

Last of all, each of us shared our names and reasons for opposing the pipeline and the influence of fossil fuel companies on our democracy through campaign contributions.

“I travelled all the way to Washington to stop this pipeline. Now it appears Rep. Coffman has sold his vote to greedy corporate interests willing to wreck our climate in the name of profits,” said Ginger Ikeda, a Coloradan who travelled to Washington, DC to encircle the White House with 12,000 people last month to stop the pipeline. “I’m fed up with corporate influence on our government.”

A Cornell Global Labor Institute study found that any jobs stemming from the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction are likely to be outweighed by the environmental damage it would cause and a rise in gas prices in theMidwest.

Hundreds of Coloradans have demonstrated here and in Washington,  DC to stop this pipeline.  Although our event was in the festive holiday spirit, we made sure to be clear that we’re sick of politicians doing the bidding of their corporate benefactors, and if Coffman doesn’t change his ways, he can count on facing a growing opposition.


See photos here from the event. Hear a KGNU public radio interview with Micah Parkin about this event here (at 21:50).  Read about it on ColoradoIndependent.com here.