Everybody And Their Mother Comes Out Against Local Control

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As the Denver Post's Mark Jaffe reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper's press conference yesterday kicking off the opposition campaign against two local control ballot measures championed by Rep. Jared Polis left no confusion about where the governor stands–as if there ever was any.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday said two ballot measures aimed at giving local governments more control over oil and gas drilling would damage the state's economy and must be defeated…

"It is clear these initiatives will kill jobs and damage our state's economy," Hickenlooper said. "These measures risk thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in investment, and millions of dollars in tax revenue."

…Hickenlooper said Initiative 88 is the opposite of local control, for it sets a "arbitrary limit" across the state with no room to adjust it locally.

As for Initiative 89, Hickenlooper questioned whether local governments would have "the sophistication" to enforce it.

Via Gannett's Raju Chebium, Rep. Polis responds:

Democratic Rep. Jared Polis said one measure he wants to include on the state's November ballot would give local governments the power to approve or reject fracking operations without fear of reprisal from the oil and gas industry. Another measure would allow residents to decide how far fracking wells should be from their homes and businesses.

Fracking may be appropriate far from residential neighborhoods and in rural and industrial areas, but communities must have the ultimate say over whether the wells can sprout up nearby, he said.

"It's perfectly reasonable for residents to feel that it shouldn't be in residential neighborhoods. That should be up to them if they want it," Polis said. "If Loveland residents want fracking, they should be able to have it. If Fort Collins residents don't, they shouldn't be sued." [Pols emphasis]

Our understanding is that despite the swift closing of ranks against these initiatives on the part of Democratic insiders, Rep. Polis remains fully committed to passing them. The fact is, whatever fear has been put into establishment Democrats about consequences from running these initiatives, Polis can defensibly argue he is simply representing his district–where three cities have already passed moratoria, and in the case of Lafayette an outright ban, on hydraulic fracturing. That's a point getting lost as Democrats across the state–Mark Udall, Andrew Romanoff, Ed Perlmutter, and many others–fall in line behind Hickenlooper in opposition to these ballot measures, and the chattering class groupthink ramps up against them.

One of the most popular arguments against these initiatives aimed at Democrats is the assumption "certainty" that they will hurt Democratic electoral prospects this November, either directly or indirectly from the resources expended in the fight. We continue to see a plausible scenario wherein Democrats benefit from these initiatives by stoking turnout, even as individual Democratic candidates give themselves cover by opposing them. Today, as Democrats disappoint conservationists with their stand against local control, they still know Democrats are closer to their position than Republicans will ever be. While these initiatives might be setting up 2015 for a divisive blue-on-blue fight over the issue, that doesn't mean the damage will be felt at the polls this year.

And it wouldn't be the first time the voters proved bolder than the leaders.

68 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ct says:

    Thousands and thousands and billions and millions of bad things will befall us should the voters of Colorado actually get to, then do, decide that industrial operations should not be located proximate to schools, hospitals and homes.

    Thanks for offending me further with more overblown hyperbole.  

    What's next is further fracturing of the electorate, more cracks between what Coloradans are experiencing on the ground and 'leadership' in Denver, which seems simultaneously entranced with and terrified of the wads of cash flowing into Colorado dark money coffers from faraway boardrooms.  

    Standing at a distance would have been easier to sell on the streets for those still found to knock on doors, than seeing the panpalopy of 'represenatives' standing there with those peddling the noxious BS now bombarding our airwaves, not to mention pumping toxins into the ground, et cetra; is something many will not see in a favorable light.

    I get it was a hard position but no one said politics and policy were easy BTW, or that elected leadership is a pass on making tough decisions. And this time CO Dems will have done it to themselves I am afraid—It’s hard to get out the Independent vote without a base to do the work, the Democrats failure to lead effectively on this issue at the state level created this mess.    

    • Ross Cunniff says:

      Everyone and their mother can kiss my votes and campaign donations goodbye.  This includes you, Mark Udall, and you too, Andrew Romanoff.  I'd already written Hickenlooper off.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        "I'd already written Hickenlooper off….."   So, if you get Bob Beauprez as your governor, then you've sealed your own fate. It's really the lesser of two evils, for those who are into anti-fracking.

        • Andrew Carnegie says:

          Because if you do what your leaders say, like Blacks and Latinos did when they voted for Obama in 2008, they will surely reward your loyalty, right?

          That is why Black unemployment is up and Obama forgot to make immigration reform the first thing he worked on after he was elected.

          If the politician tells you he does not support your favorite policy, he does not support your policy.  Otherwise, he would be usuing the typical weasal words of the world of politics.

        • Ross Cunniff says:

          False choice.  And anyway, on oil and gas, there is barely any daylight between Hickenlooper and Beauprez.  Frankly, I think politicians need to pay a price for their anti-environmental stances.  The only tools at my disposal are the ballot box, the contribution checkbook (not really that important a tool, but…) and free speech.  I'll use all the tools I can.  Frankly, as I've said before, if we regress on social issues, we can fix it.  But when we are done destroying the environment, there is no going back.  It really is at that level of crisis now.

      • nancycronknancycronk says:

        I'm in favor of local control.

  2. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Littwin had an interesting take on this.

    The money quote: 

    "And many Democrats, who would normally be lining up with the environmentalists, would be afraid that doing so could be a disaster for them. (The Democrats may be wrong on that. But, interestingly, there’s at least one group that agrees with them: Colorado Republicans)."


    • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

      I think this is wrong in one way.  Many of those Dems actually believe this is the wrong thing to do.  Whether it's that they are in favor of drilling or just don't like the uncertainty for business it might introduce.

    • kickshot says:

      Someday, somewhere (hopefully in Colorado (soon)) Democrats will stop letting Republicans tell them what to do, think, say and feel.

  3. doremi says:

    Interesting that Rep. Polis is pushing "local control" here in Colorado, but was fully willing to totally wipe it out with his vote Wednesday to strip the District of Columbia of its ability to regulate firearms in the District.  Unfortunately, the Massie amendment to the D.C. appropriations bill passed (with Polis joining Republicans Lamborn, Gardner, Tipton and Coffman).  

    So much for democracy for the residents of D.C.

    Yikes!  Talk about hypocritcal.

    • kickshot says:

      Deadly toxins from fracking and deadly bullets from guns both need to be stopped.

      No hypocrisy there.

      • doremi says:


        Actually, Jared Polis voted so that the District of Columbia can not regulate guns in their own community.  He's for local control on fracking in Colorado, but opposed it when the people of the District of Columbia want to decide on  the best ways to stop gun violence in their own community.




        • kickshot says:

          I understand hat the reality of the toxins from fracking and the deadly violence are something that you can get behind totally. More toxins, more bullets, eh?

          I differ. Is that OK?

    • Urban Snowshoer says:

      Guns are a classic example of how people only support local control when it involves something they approve

      Democrats seem to support local control if it means a locality can impose stricter laws on guns but if a locality wants to allow open-carry it's an outrage. The Republicans are no different: if a locality wants to allow open-carry it's local-control but if a locality wants to impose stricter laws, they'll be running around with their hair on fire about how the government is coming to take their guns. 

  4. Golden GirlGolden Girl says:

    May I suggest, as one who has long held fracking concerns, that if we have local control that it could bite us in the butt. Counties like Mesa would, without blinking an eye, allow drilling on the courthouse lawn if they could. 

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Good point. While the content of these measures appeals to me I'm not a big fan of putting everything, including a unintended consequences, into amendments to the state constitution.  We have too many as it. I'm going to have to reluctantly go along with Udall and, if memory serves me, Ralphie (if I'm not remembering correctly apologies, Ralphie) in declining to support for these amendments. I see where others would want to and respect their choice. I've pretty much had it with amendments rather than legislative solutions.

      • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

        BC – I would agree that legislative solutions would be optimal.  That said, we have a  pretty rich history in Colorado of standing up to out-of-touch politicians.  The 2004 Amendment 37 campaign came about becasue for three years in a row (the legislative sessions of 2002, -03 and -04) we tried to implement a renewable standard.  Even though public polling showed north of 60% of us wanting it – we couldn't get it through the legislature.  We'd be naive to think that state politicians would have ever grown enough of a spine to legalize cannabis – the whipping they would have gotten from the private prison industry would have been insufferable. 

        I think we'd all agree we need a balance in the extraction of those resources (which would include severance tax reform – and some reform to TABOR) – but do you honestly think there iseven  one politician in this state brave enough to walk that plank?  Bill Ritter was bludgeoned in '08 when he tried it via the Amendment 58 campaign.  I wish there was a legislative solution – and I'd be all ears to hear your thougths on how reform might happen.  The polls would suggest that people have lost confidence in what government is tasked with:  'goverining', not parroting industry talking points.

        • MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

          I should have started the history review 121 years prior to our 21st-century acheivements.  Colorado was the first state to give women the right to vote. (Wyoming was a terrority at the time). Susan B. Anthony herself made a whirlwind tour of the state to rally support. But she was booed out of mining-town saloons by unsympathetic gold seekers whose only goal was to get rich quick.

          Caroline Nichols ChurchillThe only visible opposition was the brewery industry, which launched a last-minute campaign to frighten saloon patrons. Their scheme backfired when bar girls and prostitutes made known their sympathy for the suffrage cause.

          On the really important issues facing our state – I predict it will be the women who will ultimately bring about the necessary changes.  Just ask Betty White:

          “Why do people say 'grow some balls'? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.”


          • BlueCatBlueCat says:

            I understand your point.  It's a shame that people don't seem to vote for legislators with much reference to the way they poll on issues and then complain that government isn't responsive to them. Too bad so many don't look much beyond the bright shiny, or dark scary, ads.

            I don't know what can be done about lazy ignorant easily manipulated voters and the pols who are sold to them like soap and (of course) represent the interests of the soap sellers rather than those of the electorate but I suspect an endless stream of mismatched amendments cluttering up the state constitution isn't the answer. 

            Bottom line, whether or not a Dem candidate supports or opposes these particular measures is not going to be a deal breaker for me. There  are too many other considerations, such as that every R pol running in the state is exponentially worse on all the issues than any Dem.  If I, for instance, don't vote for Hick or Udall because of this and get Beauprez and Gardner instead, I deserve them.

            I hope that progressives who plan to vote for these initiatives don't plan to leave the top lines of the ticket blank or write in or vote third party because of it. At least here in CD6, wherever Romanoff comes down, I can't imagine a lack of enthusiasm ensuing.  And that's what Rs are hoping to get out of this.  I'm not interested at all in helping to make their dreams come true.

            • The realistThe realist says:

              Understand your reasoning but there are some number of us who – at the time we vote – just might not have the stomach to mark the ballot for Hickenlooper. It's a sad reality. Hick and others simply don't care about the environmental pollution and negative health impacts the drilled communities are experiencing. How sad that the Governor's race this fall will be like voting in a Republican Primary – I've never had a desire to do that.

              • BlueCatBlueCat says:

                I understand yours too. Idealism is admirable but I'm a practical cat. Not voting for Hick is, in the ideal world simply refusing to support Hick and for very good reasons. In the material world, it's helping to elect his opponent. 

                I do recognize that idealism and practicality both have their place and respect your choice if you can't vote for Hick. You may feel, for instance ( A hypothetical. I don't presume to know how you feel) that a defeat might push the party toward more progressive candidates to win back the base if the base deserts them.  I, personally wouldn't make that choice at this juncture and hope that most progressives won't either, when push comes to BWB shove. 

                According to Nate Silver things are looking pretty good for Dems in the Governor's races. I'd like Colorado to contribute to that and I would definitely not like an R Governor in place with respect to social issues or for the 2016 elections.

              • ct says:

                More than just not caring, is the parroting of the worse industry talking points.

    • ct says:

      No GG that would not be the case.  All the local control measures, none of which are on the ballot BTW, they are a set back and a 'bill of rights' hading toward the ballot, but all the local control measures set the state rules as the floor, they are currently the ceiling.  IOW, no locality could weaken rules beyond what the COGCC has in place–i.e. if Mesa can't drill their couthouse now they won't be able to due to 'local control' (as it was put forth in all its iterations)–but they could have stronger protections than the state rules, under local control, which now they cannot.  

      • Golden GirlGolden Girl says:

        Thanks ct for the clarification; I have to admit I'm not  informed on all aspects of the measures.  I'll continue to read and learn.

      • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

        That's not necessarily true, in my reading.

        Initiative 88, if it passes, creates a setback requirement of 2,000 feet, but this setback can be waived by the owner of the surface estate (some folks own the land an everything below it, others are in a "split estate" where one person owns the surface rights — the homeowner, usually– and another the mineral rights beneath).  Since the county probably owns at least the surface portion, they can mount the rig on the steps if they like.

        Initiative 89 does say that the stricter of the two regimes (state/local) is in effect, but the state rules are waiveable and changeable (they could junk the setback altogther) and local rules could not regulate at all.

        So, yes, Mesa county could drill at the courthouse or the school districts at the schools.

        • ct says:

          That's not what I said.  I said under Local Control (not the two current versions still being called that which are 1-a set back and 2-an environmental 'bill of rights' ) the rules imposed by the state that exist currently for Mesa County's courthouse would not be weakened by Local Control, as it was being proposed in the initiatves–now all withdrawn or stopped, as all of them specifically disallowed that.  They created the state rules–which currently govern how the Mesa County Courthouse can and cannot be drilled, fracked, etc.–as the floor.  That would remain the same.  Re: the set back provision you are correct, the surface owner can decide to allow.  The set back would give better protection to those surface owners, however, if they did not want to allow surface occupancy on their land.  

          • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

            The COGCC can waive setbacks.  That's true today or under any future regime.  If Mesa, who probably holds the rights to the minerals under its courthouse applied to the commission today and said, hey, we'd like to get at our oil, but we need a waiver to allow us to drill in the courtyard, closer to the bulding, that's doable.


            • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

              Actually, the courtyard looks a bit tight, but there a nice piece of land behind the courthouse where Main turns into Crosby that would do.

            • ct says:

              I don't think we're saying anything different really.  I've thought the situation would be different if the good citizens of the Redlands sat on a tight oil deposit.  GJ benefits from being a hub, and much of the ugliness is a little ways off.  

              • SocialisticatProgressicat says:

                I think you're right.  I'm trying to answer Golden Girl's question but responding to you.  GG, if the state makes rules like they are now, and your locality doesn't want to do any better, under current law or with these injustices in place, if you don't own the land the drilling's next to, you get to eat it.  If you do, you can at least keep it 2,000 feet away.

        • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

          You'd think Republicans- with their traditional eye toward economies- would be for local control, after all, city councils and  county boards of commmisioners are generally cheaper and easier to buy than state legislatures. I suspect they fear that because they'd lose the money advantage Citizens United and Mccutcheon gave them.

          • Andrew Carnegie says:

            LM, local control is a means and not an end.  The end is banning fracking.  Only fools think voters are voting on local control.  They will be voting on Jobs created by the oil and gas industry.

            No political wants to be seen as anti-jobs in a bad economy, even Mark Udall.

          • Ralphie says:

            Langelo–Local control only applies when you're talking about Common Core.

            • Andrew Carnegie says:

              Biggest local control issue in our history was Slavery.  Dems were all over local control (states rights) back then.  Others saw the issue as slavery.

              • Ralphie says:

                So you think Lincoln could be nominated as a Republican today?  How about Teddy Roosevelt (environment, national parks, trust busting) or Eisenhower (infrastructure, "beware the military-industrial complex")?  Nixon? (The EPA, Endangered Species act)?

                • Andrew Carnegie says:

                  Changing the subject much?

                  Short answer, maybe.

                  Back to subject, voters will not see this as a local control/states rights issue.  They will see this as for or against jobs created by the oil and gas industry. Any sane politician who wants to be elected will align themselves with jobs in the current environment.

                  • Ralphie says:

                    You're the one who went off topic with slavery.

                  • BlueCatBlueCat says:

                    Yes AC. Apparently you think the Dem party then corresponds to the Dem party now and Lincoln (or Teddy or Ike) would have been considered anything but a socialist by today's Rs. St. Reagan would merely have been a RINO. It's not even apples and oranges. It's separate planets.

                  • langelomisteriosolangelomisterioso says:

                    AC this is Colorado were speaking of and a population who realizes all those jobs won't be worth a plug nickel if you can't breathe the air and the water is non-potable because it's flammable. Wingnuts can try to put any spin they like on it but that's the real bottomline.

              • ct says:

                Was that before or after Lincoln and Noah were Founding Fathers?  I get my wingnut history a little mixed up after 4004 BC or so.  

  5. MichaelBowmanMichaelBowman says:

    If memory serves me, a "united" Democrats and Republicans also committed to anhialating Amendement 64.  They were united in being 10 points wrong. 

  6. SocialisticatProgressicat says:

    Didn't Longmont also ban fracking?  I'd hate them not to get a mention since they're taking it on the chin for everyone else smiley

  7. ct says:

    Remember this?

    "Congressman (Cory) Gardner (R-Yuma) believes this ballot initiative is a state issue," his spokesman, Alex Siciliano, said in a statement. "Since being elected to federal office, he has consistently abstained from taking public positions on ballot initiatives in Colorado — whether it be marijuana legalization or tax increases — he has not taken a public stance on state and local measures."

    Wouldn't that have been the sensible, honest and prudent approach from some of our Dems?  Maybe experience does lend a certain wisdom, see below; in any case I am disappointed and would have preferred other Colorado federal elected officals at the least to have taken a similar, sensinble and democratically-friendly position.  

    However, when Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier asked the 18-year congresswoman where she stood specifically on Initiatives 88 and 89, she declined to take a stand for or against the measures, saying that typically has been her policy on state issues, especially those that — like these two — haven’t even received enough petition signatures to be placed before the voters.

    “I have a general policy in my office that I don’t take positions on state ballot initiatives because I’m a federal official. And I really don’t take positions on ballot initiatives that have not been certified,” she told a crowd of about 40 people at a luncheon organized the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp.


    • ct says:

      That first excerpt is in regard to secession, since cowardly Cory refused to say where he stood and took the 'its a state issue' path…how times do change as Gardner blabbers on and on and on re: this state, not federal, local ballot matter.  Putz. 

  8. JBJK16 says:

    Local control is apparently good for school boards, property ownership records, stop lights, open carry allows, parking enforcement,  and a hundred other things.

    but zoning rules? Only God should decide.  If God decides to locate oil near my house, but not in a way I own it.. So be it.


    the world is weird.

  9. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    It's all going to come down to whether people believe their own senses – the fumes in the air, the volatiles in the water, the trucks, the towers…or some pap that chickenshit politicians are peddling. And for those who don't live with fracking, their stories need to get out there more than they are now. I don't know how to do that, but it must happen.

    How many people live with fracking? Like population numbers, Does anyone know?


    • DaninDenDaninDen says:

      Fracking is a refined technology –"texas slant drilling" at its best vouch safed with cement cased wells supposedly bored through aquifers, to lower pockets of nat'l gas and oil. Banks all willing to loan for this,and the myrid layers of subcontractors supplying patch work arounds to supply surface water, Then vested interests brow beat the pop with threats of the loss of economic nirvana, Include the flag waving fools who believe they (oil  big )won't export the stuff faster than you can say, crony. Frack extraction is one thing, WHAT isn't mentioned by the ads featuring the "Great and Good" is the bilge waste water from fracking.

      By comparison, The Gilded Age was the worst ecological disaster, (super fund clean up) atrocity visited upon this country.

       Weld county wells, sidelined over earthquake fears, have been greenlighted again. No where do I hear an explantion of the role of those dumps sites injected deep into the ground. Cement cased? not hardly,.It is a fiction swept under the rug by media & cohorts. If years later, an aquifer becomes contaminated, where will these carpet bagger pols be, except perhaps drinking bottled water somewhere else, at our expense?

    • The realistThe realist says:

      Don't know the numbers, but a really good blog from the sacrifice zone in Garfield County, for folks who just don't have a clue what residents are experiencing:



    • BoulderDem says:

      In real human terms? A lot, and way too many. In political terms? Very few, and many of those support fracking. Which is the biggest problem the initiative supporters face. Well, other than the $40m worth of TV ads.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      Don't know about people numbers , but there are north of 53,000 active gas wells in Colorado. Not all wells are in population centers, but one well can affect a lot of people…

    • The realistThe realist says:

      And, volatiles are not just in the water, they are showing up in the bloodstreams of nearby residents. See previously referenced blog   http://fromthestyx.wordpress.com


      • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

        When my wife and I moved away from Silt Mesa, it was, in large part, because of a letter we received from our family physician, telling us he was moving his family away from Rifle because the air was dangerous. He was not the only doctor I knew who could see (but not prove) the obvious….

        • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

          Well,now they can prove it. Blood work is being done. Studies are underway. But only academics are paying attention.

          What I think is that the only real weapon anti-frackers or initiative proponents have is the power of the human stories of those affected by nearby gas and oil development.

          I don't know what I can do to help spread those stories, but I'll do what I can.



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