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Meet the Balloon Bloq: Colorado Extraction Resistance Prevails Over Fracking Conference

Balloon Bloq

On the morning of April 16, we infiltrated the Platts Annual Rockies Oil & Gas Conference held in the Imperial Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Denver. The fracking companies represented at this event have been ruthlessly impacting the environmental fate of our planet and we refuse to be complacent any longer.

The conference was sponsored by BP, and the following “Industry Leaders” were in attendance: Anadarko Petroleum, Bill Barrett, Continental Resources, Hess , Noble, PDC, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, Tesoro Logistics, Belle Fourche and Bridger Pipelines, Dakota Plains Holdings, DCP Midstream, East Cheyenne Gas Storage, Enbridge, Inergy Services, Summit Midstream, Tallgrass, BENTEK, Canary, Platts, RBN Energy, Tudor Pickering, Turner Mason, Wood Mackenzie

When we first found out this conference was coming to Denver, we began planning our intervention. We were inspired by the Tar Sands Blockade action that disrupted a Transcanada presentation at a Platts conference in Texas on February 27th.

In order to blend in with the oil & gas industry crowd, we cleaned up and put on our best business attire. Phase one was reconnaissance of the hotel layout and any information we could gather about the event. Phase two was to insert as much modified industry art (left) in bathrooms and display tables around the conference before the events began for the day.

After letting time pass for the visual messages to sink in, we were ready to deploy “Balloon Bloq.” We prepared several bundles of helium balloons, with the strings trimmed short and tied to “personal alarms” (tiny but loud noisemakers which screech until they are deactivated). These keychain alarms are cheap (around $8 apiece) and can be purchased online and at many hardware stores.

The Balloon Bloq team approached the conference ballroom ready to confront the toxic oil and gas industry executives who are poisoning communities across Colorado and the world. We made it all the way to the ballroom doors when we were intercepted by an off-duty Denver police officer. As the cop moved in, one team member was able to pull the pin on his alarm and release his balloons right before he was grabbed by the officer, slammed face-first into a wall and cuffed. Simultaneously other team members took advantage of this distraction to quickly deploy the 2nd noise balloons directly into the room where the fracking conference was taking place. Our captured comrade continued to yell “Ban Fracking Everywhere!” as he was escorted out of the building and into a squad car. The high pitched alarm echoed through the conference as the balloons floated to the ceiling and disrupted the proceedings until they were eventually retrieved from the high ceiling by event staff. Our arrested colleague was charged with disturbing the peace and trespassing, and was released on $100 bond about 8 hours later.

Colorado Extraction Resistance and other allies had called for a rally later in the day to continue denouncing the fracking conference. About 30 of us were there with banners and megaphones, warning passers-by that the Hyatt was sheltering Eco-terrorists conspiring to poison their air and water. Another member brought “Fracked Springs” bottled water and was offering bottles to conference attendees inside the hotel. After being asked to leave by hotel staff they continued offering the fracking water to people outside. Most people were surprisingly unwilling to drink the water even though it was clearly labelled “It’s safe, trust us.”

Click here to read an article that Chris Steele of the Examiner wrote about our protest.

Let’s make a tradition of creatively disrupting Platts events wherever they go. They have already caught on to the sophistication with which Tar Sands Blockade has agitated industry events, and even offer unintentional tactical suggestions. Together, we will show the fracking and tar sands mafia that they cannot continue to poison our land, our water, and our future, and that we will hold them personally accountable for their actions even when they try to hide behind closed doors.

We had lots of fun infiltrating this conference, and it was much easier than you might think. All you need is fancy clothes, a few days for planning, and a little bit of raw nerve.

On the same morning as the Balloon Bloq, our allies at Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance were carrying out a blockade of Transcanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in Oklahoma. One local resident halted construction by climbing up into in a monopod that had been erected on the easement and another by locking herself to construction equipment on site. Learn more about the Oklahoma action here.

Click here for more modified oil & gas industry art that you can use at a Platts conference when they come to your city.

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