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Colorado environmentalists fume over Starbucks mug featuring drilling rig

July 19, 2018

DENVER Less than two weeks after putting the kibosh on plastic straws, Starbucks has run afoul of the environmental movement with a newly released mug showcasing Colorado’s oil-and-gas industry.

The blue Colorado mug, part of the coffee giant’s “Been There” series touting the distinctive features of U.S. states and cities, included drawings of bighorn sheep, pine trees, mountains, skiers and a drilling rig.

Fracking foe Heidi Henkel of Broomfield called it “super insensitive,” while the anti-fracking group North Range Concerned Citizens launched the hashtag #oilandgasisnotcolorado.

“An oil rig doesn’t represent Colorado. Colorado is colorful; Colorado is scenic,” North Range co-founder Susan Noble told Denver7 News. “An oil rig represents the dangers to our children’s health; it represents the dangers to our air; it represents the dangers to our landscape.”

No response @Starbucks ? It is time to remove these from the shelves. https://t.co/WTokginUGS Kristi (@TheMountainSun) July 18, 2018

Wtf, @Starbucks? Who paid you? #oilandgasisnotcolorado pic.twitter.com/JCTnBzCZjC North Range Concerned Citizens (@NRConcerned) July 17, 2018

Dan Haley, president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the inclusion of the oil-and-gas industry was appropriate, given its 150-year history and impact on the state.

“With over 100,000 workers and an annual economic impact of more than $31 billion, we are a central pillar of our state’s economy,” Mr. Haley said. “Like Palisade peaches, Coors beer, and the Denver Broncos, local energy production is about as Colorado as it gets.”

Fans of the industry countered on Twitter with their own hashtag: #oilandgasIScolorado.

Hey @Starbucks I think this mug perfectly represents #Colorado! Everything on here is something that makes CO great! #oilandgasISColorado #EnergyProud pic.twitter.com/xNDbuK3PEN Jake Taylor (@jp_taylor88) July 18, 2018

Starbucks did not return immediately a request for comment.

Starbucks drew cheers from environmentalists after announcing July 9 that it will phase out its plastic straws and replace them with strawless lids and “alternative material” straws, a move aimed at reducing ocean waste.

Critics have countered that it takes more energy to produce paper straws and that plastic straws represent a minute percentage of the waste, pointing to a recent study showing that 93 percent of ocean plastic pours in from 10 rivers in Asia and Africa.

Advocates for the disabled have also slammed the company’s move, pointing out that many customers with disabilities cannot drink their beverages without plastic straws.

This isn’t the first complaint Starbucks has received about its “Been There” series, although the previous gripes have centered on misspellings and errors.

Starbucks Mugs, a collectors’ website, has identified a half-dozen goofs. For example, the Charlotte mug originally referred to “Tyron” and “Trader” streets, but later corrected them to “Tryon” and “Trade” streets.

The Atlanta mug highlighted the “Chattahoochie” River before fixing it to “Chattahoochee.”

“It still amazes me how bad quality control at Starbucks was, while designing this series,” said the Starbucks Mugs administrator.

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