Shit The Oil and Gas Industry Says, What Free Speech Edition

The world’s smallest violin.

A story from the Denver Business Journal’s Cathy Proctor, reporting from the Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s annual meeting is provoking…shall we say animated feedback from the industry’s critics, after COGA’s CEO Dan Haley (formerly of the Denver Post) turned his keynote into a bizarre and defensive spectacle that we do believe very few outside the oil and gas industry would find ingratiating:

The head of Colorado’s biggest oil and gas association drew a line in the sand Thursday at the Colorado Oil & Gas Association annual meeting.

“We will not be bullied,” Dan Haley, COGA’s president and CEO, said during a speech at the association’s annual luncheon that draws senior industry executives, elected local officials and legislators. [Pols emphasis]

Saying that the industry works hard to safely supply energy to the state, nation and world, Haley issued a call for the industry to speak up and “reject” negative caricatures of the sector.

“We care because Colorado belongs to all of us, not just the loudest voice in the community meetings,” he said.

Dan Haley.

And then it got even weirder, with Haley actually calling for private citizens to be “reprimanded” for their testimony before the Colorado General Assembly:

“We’ve been called rapists and meth heads in public testimony at the legislature and those people saying that have not been gaveled out of order or reprimanded,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

We suppose the occasional judicious gaveling when things get out of hand in testimony is one thing, depending on the circumstance–but how exactly would Mr. Haley like those citizens to be reprimanded for their testimony before the legislature? Our understanding is that in America we don’t, you know, do that.

In fact, the suggestion is kind of horrifying.

To be fair, Haley did make reference to a couple of cases in which the rhetoric against the oil and gas industry has crossed the line. But that certainly doesn’t mean citizens lose their free speech rights, and it doesn’t change the dynamic increasingly defining the relationship between the industry and the citizens of Colorado: communities trying to protect themselves from land use that seemingly trumps every other use under the law, and an industry arrogantly thwarting those citizens in court rather than engaging in actual dialogue.

Who’s the real “bully” in this situation? In every quantifiable way, it’s the oil and gas industry. It’s the bottomless energy industry pockets who pay Dan Haley’s fat salary, and throw hundreds of thousands of dollars against any attempt by local communities to regulate them. It’s the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, whose contempt for public input and built-in support for the industry under pro-energy Gov. John Hickenlooper has been amply demonstrated over the course of almost eight years. It is most certainly not the citizens of Broomfield, Longmont, Fort Collins, and other cities who have voted overwhelmingly to protect their communities.

And if you really think voters are “bullies,” Mr. Haley, it’s time to check yourself.

Because the problem, sir, is you.

Frackers Reel, Plot Revenge After Another Big Loss

As the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports, another popular vote goes strongly against the oil and gas industry–this time in Broomfield, where voters overwhelmingly opted to give local authorities more power over regulate drilling, setting up yet another legal battle that the industry feels comfortable about winning but still spent almost $350,000 trying to avoid:

Voters on Tuesday passed a controversial ballot issue that gives Broomfield more local oversight of oil and gas operations in the city, a move that probably will invite a legal challenge from Colorado’s large energy sector.

According to a late-night vote tally in the mail-in election that accounts for most of the ballots cast in the city, the yes vote for Question 301 was comfortably ahead of the no vote by a margin of 57.5 percent to 42.5 percent.

As of late Tuesday night, nearly 42 percent of eligible electors in Broomfield — or 20,643 voters — cast a ballot.

What does the industry led by its PR front groups at Vital Colorado and Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) have to say after Broomfield voters turned out in big numbers to overwhelmingly pass Question 301?

Screw ’em:

“It is in violation of state law as upheld by the state Supreme Court,” said Don Beezley, a “No on 301” committee member. “The result will be Broomfield spending tens of thousands of dollars or more defending lawsuits, most likely from both the state of Colorado and the operators, with apparently 100 percent likelihood of losing said suits.”

Vital for Colorado, an advocacy group that has been active in supporting pro-business and pro-oil and gas candidates in the state, conceded defeat Tuesday night and said 301’s passage “will trigger lawsuits.”

It’s true that the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that local regulations over oil and gas drilling are overruled by state law giving that power to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Local communities, especially suburban and exurban communities along the northern Front Range where drilling is encroaching on surface land uses (and vice versa), have felt obliged to pass additional regulations–even moratoria and bans while the the impact of drilling remains uncertain–if they believe the state rules don’t adequately protect their residents.

So why don’t drillers just go to court, instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight ballot measures they claim are illegal anyway? The answer is simple: they don’t want it proven that local communities are against them. Too many Longmonts and Broomfields take action only to see our industry-friendly state government ignore their pleas, and suddenly a statewide ballot measure to change the rules that let drillers walk on local communities becomes a viable prospect.

Which, by the way, it is.

Folks, we’ve been saying for years that the oil and gas industry’s arrogance is increasingly out of touch with the changing political realities in the state of Colorado. This is an industry that is in fact ripe for comeuppance, and has had its day of reckoning postponed in part by aggressively courting Democratic support as Democrats have solidified their control here. Some of those Democrats, like Gov. John Hickenlooper, have damaged their political standing by dissing their own base on the industry’s behalf.

After eight years of Hickenlooper’s uneasy status quo, this may be all about to change. The 2018 governor’s race is expected to focus on the future of energy policy in Colorado–and depending on the choices Democrats in particular make in their primary, it could be a much clearer-cut choice between the parties than we’ve seen since well before Colorado’s most famous oilman/brewer came on the scene.

Once again, the voters have signaled loud and clear what they’d do if the politicians got out of the way.

Trump Ministers Wage War on Taxpayers and the Environment

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Trump War on the Environment continues, with a steady barrage of roll backs, anti-science flak, funding attacks, and rhetorical bombast that threaten our most cherished public lands, bedrock public health protections, and century-old conservation laws. Easing the way for corporate interests to profit from the public lands, the Trump administration at the same time is making it harder for the American public to enjoy them. The Interior Department, we just learned, is planning to hike fees for America’s most iconic public lands—including Rocky Mountain National Park—to $70 for a visit, which the administration denies will cause any hardships. Not for human persons anyhow. A few pennies in added costs for corporate-persons, however, doing business on the public lands is a different matter.

Rifle native, top-shelf attorney, and Deputy Interior Secretary Bernhardt doesn’t think he’d have any trouble affording a $70 Park fee, according to media reports.

Although no health, safety, or environmental regulation appears safe from the armies of corporate lobbyists and lobbyists-cum-administrators, a particularly fierce animus has been directed to anything with Obama’s name on it. The Clean Power Plan, National Monuments like Bears Ears, and other Obama-era rules aimed at recouping costs for American taxpayers, clamping down on harmful pollution, expanding public involvement, and preventing waste of resources have all been in Trump’s cross-hairs.

Obama Derangement symptoms may be further sign of the psychological rot at the heart of this administration, may reveal the profound, perhaps existential, threat to our Republic the Trump regime poses.

The need to undo a predecessor’s accomplishments does fit in with the behavior of an insecure autocrat. And either by design, or in the vacuum of leadership a naked emperor brings, the administration’s ministries are following suit, ruling by decree.

Consider how the environmental and land agencies are behaving under Trump. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior, for instance, seem to prefer executive fiat to public process, silence over science, and conflicted interests over competence. Under the Trump regime the media is the enemy and the public interest is elitist.

Trump Secretaries Zinke and Perry looking clean and morally straight in the swamps of DC. Zinke believes questions about government contracts are elitist, and Perry thinks fossil fuels decrease sexual assault, per recent agency communications and  reporting.

It all brings with it the appearance of the swampiest of tin-pot dictatorships. Interior Secretary Zinke, it has been revealed, flies his own flag over the Departmental Palace when he is holding court, handing out coins to his admirers. EPA Administrator Pruitt has an around-the-clock security detail and has built himself a private phone booth.

And this royal demeanor extends, many observe, to the actual management of the public’s lands and treasures—the former seems for plunder and the latter for friends.

Take the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule, put in place by Obama to prevent the waste of a public resource, widely popular, practical, and effective. Thousands of stakeholders across America, including oil and gas companies and some industry groups, agree that this rule is an effective way to reduce methane waste.

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George Brauchler: Make Electric Cars More Expensive!

We’re not making that up–flagging GOP gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler really Tweeted his support for making electric cars cost more, qualifier-free–a strange campaign plank to say the least:

Why on earth would you say something like this? The CNET article Brauchler links to explains:

Right now, buyers of electrified vehicles might be eligible for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits. But that could change — and fast — if a new tax bill becomes law.

A new bill proposed by House Republicans could eliminate the federal electric tax credit without any sort of drawdown period, Bloomberg reports. While the credits won’t disappear tomorrow, they might be eliminated after the 2017 tax year if this bill becomes law.

If killing the electric vehicle tax credit sounds like a good idea to you, you most likely work for the fossil fuel industry. For just about everyone else, tax credits to encourage the purchase of zero-emission electric vehicles are a no-brainer. Here in Colorado, we’ve gone even further to help consumers take advantage of these credits at the time of sale rather than having to wait until their next tax filing–which has proven very popular with both car dealers and car buyers.

We assume that’s what Brauchler is complaining about. Shame on you, electric car buyers!

This fumbled talking point is obviously meant to appeal to the oil and gas industry as Brauchler’s campaign continues to struggle. Unfortunately for Brauchler, Walker Stapleton has already locked down the “I’m running to serve the oil and gas industry” slot in this primary. If Brauchler wants to demonstrate he can be a better shill for the industry, he really needs to work on his delivery.

“Vote Brauchler to pay more!” It’s not a winning slogan, folks.

Even More Problems For Sen. Vicki Marble

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Marianne Goodland reports, the hits just keep coming for the once-and-again poster child for Colorado Republican nuttery, Sen. Vicki Marble–this time with an ethics complaint over a questionable town hall she hosted in Feburary with monetary help from a drilling company proposing controversial operations in her district moving forward:

The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission Monday voted unanimously to issue subpoenas to state Sen. Vicki Marble, a Fort Collins Republican, her legislative aide, Sheryl Fernandez, and an oil and gas company that paid for a Marble town hall last February.

The complaint against Marble alleged that Extraction Oil and Gas paid for the February 15 town hall, potentially a violation of the state’s limit on gifts to lawmakers.

Sarah Hall Mann of Broomfield filed the complaint after attending the February event. She said in the complaint that Brian Cain, a media relations employee of Extraction, paid the bill for the event, which was held at CB & Potts, in the Flatirons Crossing mall.

According to the state’s ethics laws, lawmakers are prohibited from accepting gifts valued at more than $59. While the amount of the town hall isn’t known, according to Mann, the event was attended by 50 to 75 people, who were each given two free drink coupons for alcoholic beverages.

According to Goodland, who covered this story previously at the Colorado Independent, the party least cooperative with the Ethics Commission appears to be Extraction Inc.–the oil company accused of paying for the free booze and hors d’oeuvres for attendees to Marble’s town hall. We’re pretty sure that every legislator would love to have a deep-pocketed sponsor to cover drinks and nosh for town hall attendees, since this would result in more people coming to often sparsely-attended legislative town halls.

The only problem being it’s not legal. The particulars here also point toward the unhealthily close relationship between the oil and gas industry and Republican lawmakers in Colorado–so much so that, as the woman who filed the complaint told Goodland, the purported town hall held by Sen. Marble “was one long ad for the oil and gas industry.”

If so, that at least means Sen. Marble was doing right by somebody. As she proved again becoming a nationwide spectacle for the second time in her career, she’s not doing much for the Republican brand.

Get More Smarter on Friday (October 13)

Today is the second, and final, Friday the 13th of 2017. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is destroying healthcare in America. Trump signed an Executive Order on Thursday that encourages the creation of cheap and largely worthless health insurance plans for healthier Americans — the result of which will likely drive up costs significantly for everyone else.

As the Denver Post reports, Colorado’s top insurance regulator is concerned about what comes next:

Colorado’s top insurance regulator responded on Thursday to President Donald Trump’s health care executive order with concern, saying the policies endorsed could lead to flimsier coverage in the state and much higher costs for the sick.

“The limited benefits, the focus on the healthy at the expense of those with pre-existing conditions, and lack of regulatory oversight will cause problems for the health insurance market as a whole,” said Marguerite Salazar, the state’s insurance commissioner…

…In her statement, Salazar said expanding the use of these plans — and loosening the requirements around them — could pull healthy people into skimpier plans, while heaping unbearable costs on the sick.

“Premiums may end up being lower for people buying these plans, but for many, paying for services not covered by the plans will be much more costly in the long run,” she said.

 

► Thursday’s Executive Order was just the first blow in a one-two combination thrown by Trump to bury the Affordable Care Act. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage in his most aggressive move yet to undermine his predecessor’s health care law.

The subsidies, which are worth an estimated $7 billion this year and are paid out in monthly installments, may stop almost immediately since Congress hasn’t appropriated funding for the program.

The decision — which leaked out only hours after Trump signed an executive order calling for new regulations to encourage cheap, loosely regulated health plans — delivered a double whammy to Obamacare after months of failed GOP efforts to repeal the law. With open enrollment for the 2018 plan year set to launch in two weeks, the moves seem aimed at dismantling the law through executive actions.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the decision in a statement emailed to reporters Thursday night.

How is Trump able to just cancel these subsidies? You can draw a straight line between this pending E.O. and legislation passed by Congress in 2014 with the support of Republicans Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

Vox.com has more on how and why Trump’s actions on Obamacare create a lose-lose situation for Americans.

 

► President Trump’s decision to use Executive Orders to cripple the Affordable Care Act puts the results — which aren’t likely to be good — squarely on his shoulders. As the Washington Post explains:

This is not “letting” Obamacare fail. Many nonpartisan experts believe that these active measures are likely to undermine the pillars of the 2010 law and hasten the collapse of the marketplaces.

The Pottery Barn rule comes to mind: You break it, you own it. Yes, the plate you just shattered had some cracks in it. But if you dropped it on the ground, the store is going to blame you.

As Barack Obama learned after the Great Recession, with heavy Democratic losses in the 2010 midterms, it’s hard to blame your predecessor for problems two years after you take office. Especially when your party has unified control of the federal government. No matter how much it might be the previous guy’s fault, many voters won’t buy it. People have very short attention spans.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper calls Trump’s healthcare decisions “cruel and irresponsible.” The editorial board at the New York Times calls on Congress to prevent Trump from destroying the healthcare marketplace.

 

► In non-healthcare news, President Trump has apparently made a decision on how to proceed with the Iran nuclear deal: He’s going to punt. Instead of scuttling the deal altogether, Trump is asking Congress to fix “flaws” in the agreement that was sealed by the Obama administration. Why Trump thinks Congress can fix anything is another question altogether.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Don’t Worry Broomfield, Bill Owens Just a “Concerned Citizen!”

Former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens (right, bobblehead left).

Dan Njegomir, a former staffer for the Colorado Senate GOP and now a quasi-reporter at the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette, published a piece yesterday about former Gov. Bill Owens wading into a ballot measure fight in Broomfield over oil and gas drilling regulations:

You know the war over Broomfield’s anti-fracking proposal – or any pending ballot issue, for that matter – is heating up when a former governor steps into the fray. Republican Bill Owens, who served as Colorado’s chief exec until 2007, took to the airwaves and digital media this week with a video denouncing Question 301 on Broomfield’s November ballot.

In the video, Owens calls 301 “a deceiving measure” and a “cynical power play focused on blocking energy development.” The former two-term guv also assures viewers “Colorado already has the toughest oil and gas regulations in the U.S.”

In siding with the No on 301 campaign, Owens – who before his time in elective office ran the Colorado Petroleum Association – appeals to war-weary Broomfielders in his video:

“National outside groups are trying to turn Broomfield into a political battleground over oil and gas development – again,” he says as the video opens. “Well enough is enough.”

We assume that note you can see above that Owens was once the head of the Colorado Petroleum Association is supposed to be disclosure of the fact that he is not exactly a disinterested observer. But it’s also ancient history, a job Owens had literally decades ago. Much more relevant to voters in Broomfield would be Owens’ current job as a senior director in the lobbying office of Greenberg Traurig, the politically connected law firm made infamous by criminal lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Now, we don’t have a current list of Greenberg Traurig’s clients to know if any of them are a party to the controversy over oil and gas drilling near residential areas in Broomfield, but somebody should probably ask–after all, the firm’s energy division has dozens of full-time attorneys. Even if there’s no direct client relationship, readers know that energy interests sweat every single one of these popular vote proposals to restrict drilling, working overtime to defeat them in order to avoid ugly legal battles afterward that only leave the industry more unpopular.

We doubt there are very many voters in Broomfield who read the Colorado Springs Gazette, but writing a story that omits the one thing that really needs to be disclosed about the subject doesn’t help anyone sort out the facts here.

Which, considering the source, probably wasn’t an accident.

Vicki Marble and the Cub Scout Tapes

State Sen. Vicki Marble (R)

State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Broomfield-ish) is no stranger when it comes to making what we could charitably call “controversial” statements, but she really raised lowered the bar for herself this week while speaking to a troop of Cub Scouts in Broomfield.

We’ll get to that Broomfield scout meeting in a moment, but first a little primer on Marble. It is Marble who came up with the “Hateful Eight” moniker to describe her and seven of her conservative colleagues in the state senate. She has alleged that renewable energy proponents “destroyed” the town of Craig with their “maypole” windmills. She has trouble differentiating between legitimate news sources and satire sites like “The Onion.” She believes that advocates for equal pay are actually victimizing women.

And, of course, Marble was the voice behind the infamous “Chickengate” affair, in which she explained during a legislative hearing on poverty that African-Americans have a shorter life span because they eat too much chicken and barbecue; the State Republican Party practically tripped over itself trying to distance itself from Marble’s commentary on this issue.

On Monday, Oct. 9, Marble spoke to a Cub Scout pack in Broomfield and delivered a breathtaking display of craziness. Videos of Marble’s remarks showed up on YouTube soon afterward; we’ve taken the liberty of transcribing Marble’s comments so that you can better hope to understand one of the more uncomfortable diatribes we’ve come across in recent memory.

You can read Marble’s comments on a variety of subjects after the jump. We’ve also included links to the videos related to the transcription…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 11)

Today is not international fried chicken day or anything else; for once, it’s just a day. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump reportedly asked military leaders to dramatically increase the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. As NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.

Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.

According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

Trump responded to the NBC News report with his typical “fake news” diatribe, though with a new twist on his worn-out rhetoric. From Politico:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment after NBC News published a report stating that the president sought a dramatic increase in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning, equating the two TV news outlets he has most often lashed out against. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”…

…The president’s stated willingness to potentially challenge the broadcast licenses of networks whose coverage he objects to opens a new front on Trump’s long-running battle with the media. The president has regularly complained about coverage he views as unfairly critical, labeling stories, reporters and entire outlets “fake news.”

Like most of the things Trump says, this threat is more fantasy than reality. It is extremely unlikely that Trump could somehow coerce the FCC into cutting off NBC’s broadcast license. The Politico story quotes Andrew Schwartzman, a communications lawyer with the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, calling Trump’s grumbling “an empty threat.”

Nevertheless, Trump’s latest threat was met with a swift response from Democrats:

Bennet is also calling on the FCC to clarify that NBC is in no danger of losing its broadcast license.

 

► Congressional Republican leaders say that “failure is not an option” when it comes to tax reform. Of course, they said similar things before failing repeatedly to repeal Obamacare.

The New York Times examines how a tax reform plan similar to the one being championed by President Trump was enacted in Kansas — and quickly repealed by lawmakers after disastrous results:

With the state hemorrhaging government revenue, Kansas lawmakers rolled back the tax law this year, but congressional Republicans and President Trump are trying to take the experiment with pass-through preferences national, beyond Wichita and Topeka to cities with residents who measure incomes in seven, eight or nine figures.

The Republican tax rewrite unveiled this month aims to jump-start economic growth in part by establishing a 25 percent tax rate on small businesses and other firms that operate as pass-through entities, a cut from the top rate of 39.6 percent that such business owners pay now.

But the abandoned experiment in Kansas points to how a carve-out intended to help raise growth and create jobs instead created an incentive for residents, particularly high earners, to avoid paying state income taxes by changing how they got paid.

 

► Colorado politicians — those not named Cory Gardner, anyway — continue to criticize the Trump administration’s War on Clean Energy, which took a new turn on Tuesday when EPA Chief Scott Pruitt ended the Obama-era “Clean Power Plan.” Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) do agree that a proposed tariff on the import of solar panels is a bad idea.

 

► Massive wildfires in California are straining emergency response systems.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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AG Coffman Loves Leadership (Except When She Doesn’t)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

The energy industry-funded Western Wire celebrated yesterday with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman the decision by the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency to repeal the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan–a plan Colorado was already well on the road to complying with, but Coffman nonetheless fiercely opposed:

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R) welcomed Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency would sign papers “to withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration.”

Under Pruitt, the EPA argues the Clean Power Plan exceeded the EPA’s regulatory authority.

“The EPA’s decision to repeal this rule clears the way for a new rule making process that addresses the legal deficiencies in the old rule and thoughtfully considers input from various stakeholders, including States,” Coffman told Western Wire via email. “The goal should be a federal-State partnership that gives States a meaningful role in setting achievable emission standards without dictating how States manage their power grids. Colorado has been a national leader in establishing clean energy standards, and we continue to prove that the States can develop and implement sound environmental policy within the bounds of the law.”

Coffman sparred with Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, who challenged the legality of Coffman’s participation in the lawsuit against the Obama-era rule. The Colorado Supreme Court declined Hickenlooper’s petition.

Because of renewable energy standards passed a decade ago as well as a major agreement to replace numerous coal-fired power plants in Colorado with natural gas power production, Colorado was already on course to meet the standards established by the Clean Power Plan. That’s why the decision by Attorney General Coffman to join the lawsuit against the administration in 2015 was broadly perceived to be a political stunt.

Of course, that was before Donald Trump became President! Now the lead attorney general in the lawsuit Coffman joined without the Governor’s consent is the head of the EPA, and the Clean Power Plan is headed for the history books at the federal level. Don’t expect Coffman to suddenly become a champion of tougher state standards, either–one need look no farther than her threatening local communities who try to enact drilling protections that exceed the status quo to see both ends of the pro-industry squeeze play. It’s a lot like the duplicitous arguments from state legislators who tried to repeal the Connect For Health Colorado insurance exchange this year, saying it wouldn’t be a problem because the federal exchange would continue to operate–except for the small detail of Republicans in Washington simultaneously working on the repeal of the federal exchange.

In short, the only people this situation should make happy work for the fossil fuel industry, who readers already know wield a disproportionate amount of influence in Colorado politics. Despite that heavy influence Colorado remains a leader in moving toward a clean energy economy, and is more likely to remain so now with further progress among the states becoming even more uneven. Continuing that record of progress versus rolling back Colorado’s model renewable energy standards is set to be a key issue in next year’s gubernatorial elections.

If that’s Cynthia Coffman’s long-term angle, she’d better hurry up! With Walker Stapleton having dedicated his campaign to supporting oil and gas industry, the people most likely to reward Coffman’s unswerving fealty could get taken off the market.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 10)

Well, then, that’s enough snow for now. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is escalating his war of words with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker. On Sunday, Corker responded to attacks from Trump with a Tweet that clearly got Trump’s goat, and nothing motivates the President more than a Twitter fight. But as the Washington Post reports, Corker’s claims about a chaotic White House are not at all unfounded:

Frustrated by his Cabinet and angry that he has not received enough credit for his handling of three successive hurricanes, President Trump is now lashing out, rupturing alliances and imperiling his legislative agenda, numerous White House officials and outside advisers said Monday.

In a matter of days, Trump has torched bridges all around him, nearly imploded an informal deal with Democrats to protect young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and plunged himself into the culture wars on issues ranging from birth control to the national anthem.

In doing so, Trump is laboring to solidify his standing with his populist base and return to the comforts of his campaign — especially after the embarrassing defeat of Sen. Luther Strange in last month’s Alabama GOP special election, despite the president’s trip there to campaign with the senator.

Sen. Bob Corker’s brutal assessment of Trump’s fitness for office — warning that the president’s reckless behavior could launch the nation “on the path to World War III” — also hit like a thunderclap inside the White House, where aides feared possible ripple effects among other Republicans on Capitol Hill.

As CNN reports, the feud between Trump and Corker is indicative of a broader civil war within the Republican Party:

The first [rule] is that there are now effectively two Republican parties — one dominated by Trump and his uber-loyal followers, for whom his feud with Corker represents exactly the kind of disruption they hoped to see him unleash. The other GOP, meanwhile, is made up of establishment, orthodox conservatives like the Tennessee senator and his Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who want to use their power to legislate and fret about Trump’s global leadership.

The second rule of last year’s Republican primary circus is one that Corker is now daring to confound — namely that no one who gets down in the muck with a brutal political street-fighter like Trump comes out clean or unscathed. Trump’s showdown with Corker, which went nuclear over the weekend, will go a long way to deciding the state of the GOP as it musters for midterm elections next year — at which its monopoly in Washington will be on the line.

As Politico reports, many Republicans are really, really, really wishing that Trump would just stop fanning the flames of the GOP’s problems.

 

► The Denver Post wonders what happened to Sen. Cory Gardner’s critiques of last year’s nuclear deal with Iran:

When Barack Obama was in the White House, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was blunt in his opposition to a nuclear deal with Iran — calling it a “tragic mistake” when the terms were implemented at the beginning of last year.

But now Gardner won’t say whether it would be the right move if President Donald Trump decides to take a step back from the international accord. Nor would the Colorado Republican provide a clear answer on whether he thinks Congress should again slap sanctions on Iran if Trump doesn’t certify the deal before an approaching Oct. 15 deadline.

“I think there (are) a lot of pieces that have to be answered before I can affirmatively say that — including whether the president makes the request for those sanctions to be reissued,” Gardner said in a phone interview with The Denver Post.

This is such a typical Gardner response that we could have written it ourselves; it would be hard to be more disingenuous than Gardner on just about any issue.

 

► The Trump administration’s War on Clean Energy takes a new turn today. Here in Colorado, critics of Trump and EPA Chief Scott Pruitt are out in force.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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The War on Clean Energy

Scott Pruitt

Former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is about the get the axe from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. As NBC News reports:

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“The war on coal is over,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declared in the coal mining state of Kentucky.

For Pruitt, getting rid of the Clean Power Plan will mark the culmination of a long fight he began as the elected attorney general of Oklahoma. Pruitt was among about two-dozen attorney generals who sued to stop President Barack Obama’s push to limit carbon emissions…

…The withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan is the latest in a series of moves by Trump and Pruitt to dismantle Obama’s legacy on fighting climate change, including the delay or roll back of rules limiting levels of toxic pollution in smokestack emissions and wastewater discharges from coal-burning power plants.

The president announced earlier this year that he will pull the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. Nearly 200 countries have committed to combat global warming by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Pruitt is expected to officially repeal the Clean Power Plan on Tuesday. President Trump often promised during the 2016 campaign that he would destroy the Clean Power Plan, and Pruitt is the perfect executioner.

A long legal battle is expected to follow Pruitt’s formal decision, and no matter the outcome, don’t expect to see much of an uptick in coal mining jobs. The world has been moving away from coal power for many years now, with the U.S. alone reducing its coal-fired power by 15% over the last five years.

Get More Smarter on Friday (October 6)

Enjoy your weekend — snow is coming on Monday. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is making it easier for companies to deny contraception coverage to female employees on “religious” grounds. As the Washington Post reports:

The Trump administration issued a rule Friday that sharply limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, a move that could mean many American women would no longer have access to birth control free of charge.

The new regulation, issued by the Health and Human Services Department, allows a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. The decision, anticipated from the Trump administration for months, is the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start.

Several religious groups, which battled the Obama administration for years over the controversial requirement, welcomed the action.

Women’s rights organizations and some medical professionals portrayed it as a blow to women’s health, warning that it could lead to a higher number of unintended pregnancies.

This is the part where we remind you that elections matter.

 

► Is the United States about to start a new military conflict? Tune in next week…

From CNN:

While taking photos alongside military leaders and their spouses before a dinner at the White House, President Donald Trump made an ambiguous statement, citing “the calm before the storm.”

“You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” Trump said at the photo op Thursday night, following a meeting with his top military commanders.
When reporters present asked what he meant, Trump replied: “It could be, the calm, the calm before the storm.”

As Chris Cillizza elaborates for CNNPresident Trump continues to act as though this is all just one big reality TV show.

 

► A group trying to change the redistricting/reapportionment process in Colorado is losing some of its key supporters, as the Colorado Independent reports:

Two former Democratic politicians, former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and ex-lawmaker Abel Tapia, have pulled their names as supporters of a campaign that seeks to change the way Colorado draws its political boundaries.

The campaign, called Fair Districts Colorado, comes as multiple other states look to reform legislative and congressional redistricting and reapportionment and as the U.S. Supreme Court hears a case about whether partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution

In Colorado, the movement is trying to get three measures on the Nov. 2018 statewide ballot to create a new, more independent commission that would draw legislative and congressional district lines, among other changes.

Garcia told The Colorado Independent it became clear to him that the Fair Districts campaign and its efforts are “more controversial and potentially partisan” than he realized.

 

► The U.S. House passed a 2018 budget resolution on Thursday, the first step in advancing a nonsensical Republican tax reform plan.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 5)

The Colorado Rockies made the playoffs this year, but you missed it if you didn’t catch Wednesday’s game in Arizona. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Tens of thousands of Colorado children are in serious trouble if Congress does not renew funding for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program that expired at the end of September. The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday took the first step toward renewing CHIP funding with a bill sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

 

► Today is the last day for DACA recipients to renew permits before the process is closed under a policy shift announced last month by the Trump administration.

 

► Colorado Senate Republican leaders pledged not to do their jobs when the legislature convened for a brief session to fix an unintentional legislative error this week, and they succeeded in doing nothing once again. But the decisions of Republican leaders such as Senate President Kevin Grantham are looking even worse with the news that legislation to fix SB-267 would have passed in the Senate had a floor vote been permitted.

State Sen. Chris Holbert is among those Republican leaders whose reputations took a hit this week. Holbert was quoted by the Denver Post saying that he “did not swear an oath to uphold the opinion of a court” and preferred to follow his constituents’ interpretation of the State Constitution rather than, you know, facts.

 

► Former Judge Roy Moore, who easily defeated Sen. Luther Strange in a Republican Primary in Alabama last month, showed up unexpectedly in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and caused quite a stir. As the Washington Post reports, Moore apparently met with NRSC head Cory Gardner, despite the best efforts of both men to pretend othewise:

Rather than meeting with McConnell, Moore was on the House side of the Capitol on Wednesday. In a brief interview as he left the office of Rep. Robert B. Aderholt in the afternoon, Moore said he had no meetings set up with McConnell or members of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate majority’s campaign arm, which spent millions trying to defeat Moore in the primary.

“Nothing confirmed,” he said casually, as an aide tried to head off questions. Asked why he decided to come to Washington, Moore simply replied: “Beautiful place.”

In the evening, Moore met with the NRSC chairman, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), according to a Republican close to Gardner and a second Republican familiar with the talk who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the closed-door session. Moore’s campaign declined to comment.

The meeting appeared to be hastily arranged, given Moore’s afternoon remark and Gardner’s uncertainty earlier in the day, as he and other Republicans struggled to save face.

“I haven’t looked at the schedule — I don’t know that yet,” Gardner said around midday, when asked whether he planned to meet with Moore.

The entire story is worth a read; Republicans who feared Moore and his right-wing supporters seem to have plenty of reason to be nervous. Moore’s Senate campaign was also a referendum on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom the Alabama nominee has openly criticized.

 

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Rex Tillerson Thinks Trump is a “Moron”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Trump

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is probably not long for this job after word leaked out that he called President Trump a “moron” during a meeting at the Pentagon this summer. As CNN explains:

Discord between President Donald Trump and his chief diplomat is at an all-time high, spilling into public view in recent days, peaking with a NBC News report Wednesday that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron” in a Pentagon meeting.

Trump was aware before Wednesday’s report that Tillerson had referred to him as a “moron” at the Pentagon this summer, a source familiar with the conversation told CNN, but it’s unclear whether Trump discussed the remark with Tillerson. Trump was not present at the Pentagon meeting. A White House source also confirmed to CNN that Trump knew about the insult prior to Wednesday.

During a hastily arranged statement Wednesday morning, Tillerson insisted he enjoys a close relationship with Trump and called him “smart.” But he would not directly deny that he’d called Trump a “moron.”

Trump is notoriously thin-skinned, so it’s hard to see how he won’t boot Tillerson out of his Cabinet at some point soon…that is, of course, if Tillerson doesn’t quit first. Today Tillerson spoke at last-minute press conference to dispute a report from NBC News that he had to be talked out of resigning by Vice President Mike Pence. From Politico:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that he has never considered resigning his position, disputing an NBC News report that he was on the verge of such a move over the summer…

…NBC News reported Wednesday that Tillerson had referred to Trump as a “moron” after a meeting at the Pentagon last July with members of the president’s national security team. Citing multiple unnamed sources, the network reported that the secretary of state was close to resigning in the wake of the president’s controversial, political speech at a Boy Scouts of America jamboree and only remained in his job after discussions with Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials.

As for Trump, the President took to Twitter to call the NBC News report “fake news.” Trump did not mention the fact that Tillerson would not deny calling the President a “moron.”