Colorado Targeted by Fossil Fuel Industry’s Disinformation Playbook

Climate Deception Harms Communities’ Health and Safety

Nancy Cole, Ortal Ullman, Kathy Mulvey, Nicole Pinko

Published Oct 20, 2021


Over the past decade the oil and gas industry has used deceptive tactics to exert outsized political control in Colorado, a corporate strategy that deeply threatens communities’ health and safety in the state.

In this report, we examine the fossil fuel industry’s deceptive tactics, documenting the various ways it maintains its stranglehold on the political processes and people of Colorado. We documented four basic disinformation “plays” in the state:

  • The Fix: The industry manipulates government officials or processes to inappropriately influence policy to its financial advantage.
  • The Diversion : The industry manufactures uncertainty about science (including economics) and facts where little or no uncertainty exists.
  • The Screen: The industry buys credibility through alliances with academia, professional societies, and trusted local organizations or messengers.
  • The Fake: The industry creates, supports, or promotes questionable scientific and economic analyses and tries to pass them off as facts or legitimate research.

Colorado legislators and regulators must hold the oil and gas industry accountable for its deception and political interference that put communities at risk. Fossil fuel companies active in Colorado and their trade groups must stop spreading climate disinformation and pay their fair share of the climate, environmental, and public health costs of fossil fuel production and combustion.


Cole, Nancy, Ortal Ullman, Kathy Mulvey and Nicole Pinko 2021. The Fossil Fuel Industry Brings Its Disinformation Playbook to Colorado: How the Oil and Gas Industry Harms Colorado Communities—And Often Gets Away with It. Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists.

Related resources