Texas Oil Industry Fights Self-Governance In Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The headline in the Denver Business Journal almost tells the story:

Colorado oil and gas industry backs tighter rules on changing constitution

But it misses the opportunity to take a deeper dive into which companies, and where they operate from, are working to “Raise the Bar” in Colorado via Amendment 71.

For that we can go to TRACER–Colorado’s campaign finance tracker, to see that the major contributor is the questionably named “Protect Colorado” (registered with the Secretary of State as Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence) set up by former Denver Post journalist Karen Crummy. 

Wow, a cool million from this innocuous-sounding group in just the last filing.

Hmmm. It seems a curious journalist might want to poke around a little more, rather than just quote Greg Brophy, as the DBJ article does:

“We’ve received funding from a whole bunch of businesses and trade groups, all of whom in the past have been subject to constitutional amendment proposals and have had to fund the defense against all these constitutional amendments,” said former state Sen. Greg Brophy, a co-chairman of the Raise the Bar campaign. 

That’s true, contributions have come from numerous special interest groups, but the majority of dollars comes from oil and gas companies, a large number of whom are not based in Colorado at all. 

Rather they are headquartered in Texas. For instance Pioneer Natural Resources of Irving Texas put in $100,000 according to company disclosures. Noble Energy (Houston Texas) has put up quite a bit of financial backing for the dubiously named “Protect Colorado.”  And Anadarko (The Woodlands Texas) has contributed millions of dollars to make it more difficult for Colorado citizens to self govern. 

It may indeed be that Colorado’s Constitution is too readily amended. However the root of that issue may not be ballot rules, but rather that the deck is stacked, it seems to many, against local communities.

The cause may be that the State Legislature and “Blue Ribbon Task Forces” fail to address a clear and present need to make sure that oil and gas operations don’t unduly impact or harm local residents.

If that is the case then “Rigging the Bar” may seem a useful tactic to the out-of-state interests that want Colorado citizens to sit down and shut up. But over time it could very likely prove to be be a losing strategy.

Oil Executive Favored as Trump’s Interior Secretary

Forrest Lucas

Forrest Lucas

As Politico reports, Donald Trump is likely to choose a well-known oil and gas executive as his Secretary of Petroleum Interior should he win the race for President:

Forrest Lucas, co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil and an outspoken opponent of animal rights, is a leading contender for Interior secretary should Donald Trump win the White House, say two sources familiar with the campaign’s deliberations.

The Republican businessman, 74, is well known in Indiana, where in 2006 he won the naming rights to Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts football team, for a reported $121.5 million over 20 years. He and his wife have given $50,000 to Mike Pence’s gubernatorial campaigns, according to Indiana state records.

Lucas’ company, Lucas Oil, is a fast-growing manufacturer of automotive oils, lubricants and other additives used in everything from cars to heavy-duty trucks.

One person briefed by the Trump campaign said Lucas is a “front-runner” for the Interior secretary job. The person, who was granted anonymity to talk about private discussions, added that Trump wants a “more business-friendly and business experience-heavy cabinet.”

Yikes.

DC Oil & Gas Lobbyist Says Colorado’s Air is Clean Enough

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a recent Denver Post column, Matt Dempsey from the Washington-based Center for Regulatory Solutions attempted to undermine a new report that highlights the public health threats due to ozone pollution from the oil and gas industry.

A DC-based political consultant complaining about clean air rules while working on behalf of an organization that has taken more than $100,000 in contributions from the American Petroleum Institute in recent years is probably not a surprise. But there are several factual problems with Dempsey’s argument that deserve closer scrutiny.

The oil and gas industry has an ozone problem, and it’s a lot bigger than what we know.

Colorado’s made progress in cleaning up our air. That much is clear, but it doesn’t mean that our air is yet as clean as it should be.

Ozone pollution is serious. It can trigger asthma attacks and worsen other lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. At-risk populations are most likely to be affected including children, the elderly, and minority communities.

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Scott Tipton Attack On Gail Schwartz Over Coal Crash Crashes

UPDATE: From Gail Schwartz’s campaign via the Twitters:

—–

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, GOP incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton is feeling the heat from Democratic challenger Gail Schwartz, firing off a new attack ad against Schwartz meant to hurt her with pro-energy voters on the Western Slope.

The first problem is, it’s wrong:

“Unfortunately, Delta County, Colorado, has taken the brunt of Gail Schwartz’s tenure in the state Senate,” Tipton said in a press briefing. “Instead of representing her constituents, she did go to Denver and took her orders from someone else. She sided with climate alarmists in Denver and Aspen, pushing renewable energy policies that are directly responsible for the loss of over a thousand coal mining jobs and a 12 percent decrease in tax revenues in Delta County alone.”

Problem is, that bill, SB252, wasn’t about coal, at least not directly.

The bill doubled the state’s renewable energy standard for rural electric associations, meaning they had to generate at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. For-profit utilities in the state have a 30 percent standard.

As Ashby correctly reports, the Delta-Montrose Electric Association supported increasing the renewable energy standard in 2013, and has boosted its production via renewables exactly as was hoped when Senate Bill 13-252 was passed. As locals already know, Delta County coal mines have shut down for a variety of reasons, including fires and a global glut of coal on the market–not anything the legislature did. And it gets even worse:

Tipton also cited HB1365 for hurting the coal industry, which the Legislature approved in 2010. That measure called for converting some Front Range coal-fired power plants to burn natural gas instead, a bill Schwartz voted for that Tipton opposed.

Two prime sponsors of the bill were Western Slope Republicans Sen. Josh Penry of Grand Junction and then Rep. Ellen Roberts of Durango. [Pols emphasis]

As we’ve discussed previously, attacks on Gail Schwartz over the landmark Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act to convert coal-fired power plants along the Front Range to natural gas ignore that it was a bipartisan initiative that passed with heavy Republican support. The plan was passed in part to address declining air quality along the Front Range that may well have forced federal action, and the only people against it were in the employ of not the energy industry–but one small part of the energy business in Colorado (coal) in competition with a much larger energy business (natural gas). And natural gas, with both parties voting in unison, won the battle.

Talk-radio ignorance aside, everyone who understands the issues here knows these hits on Schwartz over the coal industry’s problems are bogus. Coal is in permanent decline as an energy source, just like horses and buggies made way for automobiles.

And that means it’s time for Scott Tipton to get some new material.

GOP House Candidate: I Only Want Big Oil Money

UPDATE: We would be remiss if we didn’t add one bit of additional HD-50 history to this discussion: back in 2010, another Republican running for this seat sent a fundraising pitch that raised eyebrows for remarkably parallel reasons:

In a letter to Colorado lobbyists dated September 13th, Boswell opened with “Well, we’re getting down to the nut-cutting,” and went on to declare “I am going to win this race. The opportunity for you to align yourselves and your clients with the next Representative of House District 50 is now.”…

…The fundraising letter was one of three Boswell sent to lobbyists, but as this third letter notes, “maybe I’ve not sent out all the right signals.” That’s obviously still a problem for him. [Pols emphasis]

Bob Boswell lost in 2010 to Rep. Jim Riesberg, who was succeeded by Rep. Dave Young after Riesberg was appointed state Insurance Commissioner.

Obviously, Honeycutt hopes his own “nut-cutting” (see below) goes a little better.

—–

 

HD-50 GOP candidate John Honeycutt.

HD-50 GOP candidate John Honeycutt.

‘Tis the season for intensive fundraising by candidates at every level, and each election cycle we generally find ourselves treated to a variety of…imaginative fundraising pitches. Today’s fascinating example comes courtesy of John Honeycutt, the Republican House candidate in Greeley’s House District 50, challenging Democratic incumbent Dave Young:

TO: 27 SELECTED Lobby Professionals (Energy Sector)
CC: Lois Landgraf
FROM: John Honeycutt, Greeley GOP House District 50 candidate.

I’m seeking assistance ONLY from energy-relevant organizations. [Pols emphasis] Your name appeared alongside one or more of the organization’s listed below in a listing I was provided. If you (i.e., your lobby efforts) are not affiliated with one of these organizations, I included you on this email in error. I apologize.

Assuming I correctly identified your efforts to be affiliated with one or more of this companies, I’m requesting your assistance. You can review my background and positions at honeycutt dot us.

But for your quick review, I am pro-oil, pro-gun, pro-life. Of these, the only aspect I’m seeking assistance from are energy-related companies. [Pols emphasis]

Not this dude.

Not this dude.

Strange word choice aside, this is probably the first time we’ve ever seen a candidate declare that they are only seeking contributions from one industry, thus explicitly promising to be that one industry’s devoted toady in the legislature. For everybody not employed by that industry it’s kind of, well, unseemly.

Or at least it probably should be.

Thanks in advance if you’re interested in helping my campaign. My staff consists of one other person besides myself. We have been street-level handing out cards since my primary. We’ve met over 1,200 people combined and are not spending much money. Upcoming I have need for funding a social media campaign, a robo-call initiative and one or two “street blitzs” (sandwiches and t-shirts).

Social Media needs – $700 (targeting primarily UNC students)
Robo calls – $2,000 (targeting primarily Latino/Hispanic voters)
Street blitz – $40/person x 30 people = $1,200 (targeting primarily city of Evans)

$3,900 is needed.

No doubt Rep. Dave Young appreciates the heads-up on John Honeycutt’s old-school strategery, but seriously–$2,000 for robocalls targeting Latinos in HD-50? If you’re paying more than a few hundred dollars for robocalls into a much larger district than this, to say nothing about any kind of demographic filter, you’re getting ripped off. As for “blitzing” the city of Evans with 30 people making a whopping $40 apiece for their efforts…well, okay, but we’d say find some volunteers for that, and plow some more cash into the one thing he mentioned that might really be helpful–Facebook ads.

There’s a lot more we could say about Mr. Honeycutt, his “community outreach,” and his amateurish game plan–but he already said he doesn’t want our help! So good luck and stuff.

Polis: Fracking Fight Is Not Going Away

Rep. Jared Polis.

Rep. Jared Polis.

Via the Colorado Statesman’s David O. Williams, Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder responds to the failure of two statewide ballot measures to obtain enough petition signatures to qualify this year–one of which he financially supported:

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis on Monday told The Colorado Statesman that the battle for greater local control over oil and gas drilling will keep coming back every two years if the State Legislature is unable to take action on the emotionally charged issue of fracking in and around neighborhoods.

“Issues are always best addressed legislatively, but if the Legislature fails to address it, I’m sure proponents of ballot initiatives will be back,” Polis told The Statesman on Monday after Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams concluded supporters of two anti-fracking ballot initiatives — one of which Polis backed — didn’t collect enough valid voter signatures.

Polis gave $25,000 to Yes for Local Control Over Oil and Gas, the group pushing Initiative 75 that would have given local governments more regulatory control over oil and gas drilling within town and county boundaries, including possibly banning fracking in certain areas. Drilling is currently regulated primarily by the state…

Polis supported anti-fracking ballot initiatives in 2014 and worked toward a legislative solution in what would have been a special session designed to avoid a ballot fight. He later supported a deal with Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper that formed an oil and gas task force to hopefully address the setback and local-control issues.

fracksmokeRep. Polis did not contribute to Initiative 78, which would have mandated a very large 2,500 foot setback for new oil and gas development from existing structures. Likewise, leading environmental advocacy group Conservation Colorado endorsed Initiative 75 (local control) but not 78. Although both the local control and setback ballot measures were jointly promoted during the petition drive, opinions on the two different approaches even among environmentalists are not unanimous. For everyone except those who very deliberately are seeking to completely ban the practice of “fracking” for oil and gas, the large inflexible setbacks in Initiative 78 just aren’t workable–and if you want to ban fracking, you should be honest about that in your proposal.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that the realistic battleground in the ongoing debate over oil and gas development under the urbanizing Front Range of Colorado is going to be over the rights of local cities to regulate the industry within their boundaries to a greater degree than the state oil and gas commission. The ballot measure fights in 2014 and this year both stem from decisions by local voters and governments in Front Range cities to ban or place moratoria on fracking within their boundaries. Many of those bans and moratoria have been overturned by the Colorado Supreme Court, but Polis is absolutely correct that the issue isn’t going away. Until a better deal is struck between mineral rights holders and the growing population centers on the surface–one that recognizes that human beings on the surface do indeed matter more than the minerals beneath–every election is going to be haunted by these unsatisfied grievances.

In the Denver Post today, even Gov. John “Frackenlooper” Hickenlooper paid lip service to this ongoing challenge:

The Democratic governor said he wants to “continue the discussions” between the energy sector and supporters of the two unsuccessful ballot measures, which would have prohibited new oil and gas facilities within 2,500 feet of homes, and given more power to local governments to restrict fracking. But he offered no specifics. [Pols emphasis]

“I think most of the people I’ve talked to both in the environmental community and the oil and gas industry recognize that there is more work to be done,” he said.

The trick, as we’ve learned now in two disappointing election cycles, will be turning that lip service into something tangible–for local residents and local governments who have been pleading with Hickenlooper’s administration for years for better protections. “Banning fracking” should not be the goal of environmentalists in Colorado, but effective control of oil and gas drilling to ensure local governments can make land-use decisions that are appropriate for their communities.

Every legislative session, like every election, is a fresh chance to do the right thing.

Anti-Fracking Measures Fail To Make Ballot

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

A press release from Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams announces the unsurprising news that Initiatives 75 and 78–measures that would have clarified local control rights for communities seeking to regulate oil and gas drilling and mandates large setbacks from existing development for new drilling–did not obtain the necessary signatures to qualify for the 2016 ballot:

Two proposed ballot measures aimed at adding more limitations on oil and natural gas drilling in Colorado failed to make the November ballot because supporters didn’t collect enough valid voter signatures, Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced today.

Citizens who are trying to get an issue on the ballot must submit 98,492 voter signatures. Supporters of the two measures collected more than that for each proposal, but not enough to compensate for the number of signatures that were rejected during the random sample. Initiative No. 75 would have given local governments the authority to regulate oil-and-gas development, including banning fracking. Initiative No. 78 called for a mandatory 2,500-foot setback around oil-and-gas operations.

The proponents have 30 days from today to appeal the decision to the Denver District Court.

The energy proposals were among nine citizen-initiated measures that were submitted for the November ballot. The other seven efforts were successful.

After the failure of the task force created in 2014 to address these issues, which resulted from a deal to pull similar measures off that year’s general election ballot, the failure of the groups pushing Initiatives 75 and 78 to make the ballot is a huge (pun not intended) setback. There will be more to discuss in the coming weeks about the tactics employed by the oil and gas industry against this petition drive, specifically what appears to have been a very aggressive “decline to sign” campaign disrupting the efforts of individual signature gatherers.

But the fact remains that proponents submitted far fewer signatures than other ballot measure campaigns this year, and it was therefore always unlikely that they would be able to meet the margin of sufficiency with only a few percentage points’ worth of signatures over the threshold. To proponents credit they do appear to have a pretty decent validity rate, estimated around 80% for both measures by the Secretary of State. But it wasn’t enough, and in the end the pro campaigns must own their failure.

This certainly isn’t the end of the debate over oil and has drilling in residential areas of Colorado. As the Front Range continues to urbanize over mineral rights considered as sacrosanct as surface dwellers’ rights to peace, clean air and water, the issue will continue to bedevil the state until a better deal for local communities is brokered–in the legislature and/or at the ballot box.

For today, the industry and their allies have scored another big win for the status quo.

Trump Surrogate To Big Oil: Just Kidding, He Loves Fracking!

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

The Denver Post reports from the Rocky Mountain Energy Summit underway now at the Colorado Convention Center:

Donald Trump’s top energy adviser on Tuesday sought to play down the Republican presidential candidate’s recent comments in Colorado that he could support local efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Harold Hamm, chief executive of Continental Resources Inc., said in an interview with the Journal that Trump did not fully understand the question when he was asked about local control over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by a reporter at 9News. He said Trump was a strong supporter of the industry.

“Donald Trump did not understand that concept at the time in my opinion,” Hamm said in an interview at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual conference. “He does now.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump raised eyebrows in his interview with 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman at the end of July, in which Trump asserted that voters should “have a say” in decisions about oil and gas development–noting (correctly, we might add) that “there are some areas maybe that don’t want to have fracking.” Now, it’s entirely possible that Trump said this completely ignorant of the battle over fracking in Colorado, in particular the environmentalist position that local communities should have more control over oil and gas drilling within their boundaries than they do now.

In short, Trump was siding with the dreaded “enviros” and he didn’t even know it.

But not to worry, as the Post continues:

Hamm said he hasn’t spoken to Trump about the comments, but emphasized that he is confident the GOP nominee does not support local bans on fracking. A request for comment to the Trump campaign by the Journal was not immediately returned Tuesday…

Hamm said Trump got caught up in the term “local control.”

“I think he was pulled into that with the term local control, which is a magnet for Republican thoughts,” Hamm said. [Pols emphasis]

Why, yes it is! Modern conservatives in fact view the abstract concept of “local control” as an article of faith, on a broad range of issues from education policy to civil rights laws. “Local control” has been a battle cry for decades for Republicans against remote, aloof federal (or state as the case may be) governments that “don’t understand” the interests of the local community they’re interfering with.

But as we know in Colorado, not for oil and gas! Trump obviously wasn’t aware that in Colorado, the conventional wisdom regarding “local control” has been turned on its head. In Colorado, “local control” is the slogan of neighborhood activists who persuaded cities along the Northern Front Range to pass moratoria and bans on fracking within their boundaries. They contend their hand was forced by a state oil and gas authority that proved ineffective at protecting their communities. On the other hand, it’s the oil and gas industry who favors statewide “one size fits all” policymaking on oil and gas–not least because they’ve got a highly accommodating partner in the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

For as often as Trump is accused of abandoning “conservative values” so as to not be constrained by them on the campaign trail, in this case, Trump was actually defaulting to a conservative position when asked about fracking.

Unfortunately, in Colorado “conservative values” come second to what’s good for the oil and gas industry.

Air Quality is Being Harmed by Oil And Gas Development

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sometimes it seems that a headline should be too obvious to write, a title too trite and true. The “Dog Bites Man” story.

But there it is. And here we are–policy-wise–debating as if it is actually a question whether Colorado’s air quality is harmed by industrial development known to spew methane and volatile compounds.

Such is the power of money and slick PR. And it doesn’t just buy opinion and confound the public, it seems to buy congressmen too.

Congressman Scott Tipton represents Colorado’s Third Congressional District, home to America’s largest concentration of methane pollution from oil and gas development.

Earlier this month a new NASA study put to rest any doubt that America’s largest cloud of methane pollution was tied directly to oil and gas development in the San Juan Basin, the Durango Herald is reporting.

A two-year study released by NASA on Monday confirmed suspicions that energy extraction practices are largely responsible for the methane hot spot in the Four Corners.

“The argument that most of the emissions are from natural seeps, definitely, we can put that to rest,” said Christian Frankenberg, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Most of the plumes we observed were directly related to industrial facilities.”

Shortly after the study was made public, a coalition of local and regional oil and gas associations in Colorado and New Mexico decried NASA’s findings, calling it limited in scope.

“They did not fly the entire outcrop,” Christi Zeller, executive director of the La Plata County Energy Council, said of the area where methane naturally escapes from the Earth’s surface. “We disagree with it (NASA’s study) wholeheartedly. We know and believe the largest sources are that outcrop.”

And this past Tuesday the state health department issued a pollution alert for the Front Range according to the Denver Post:

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Did Frackers Harass Anti-Fracking Petitioners?

Allegedly paid "protesters" disrupting petition gathering.

Allegedly paid “protesters” disrupting petition gathering last month.

Yesterday, supporters of two ballot measures aimed at regulating oil and gas drilling near existing residential and other development–one laying out rights of local communities to regulate oil and gas drilling within their boundaries, and another mandating large setbacks between existing structures and new oil and gas development–delivered their petitions to qualify for tis November’s ballot. Proponents reportedly were still gathering signatures right up to the deadline yesterday afternoon, and the Secretary of State now has 30 days to certify the petitions.

A press release from Yes For Health and Safety Over Fracking posted last week to their website asserts that petitioners gathering signatures for Initiatives 75 and 78 were repeatedly harassed by a well-organized campaign of…”public education?” Intimidation? It depends on who you ask:

In at least ten separate incidents in several Colorado cities (Windsor, Greeley, Steamboat Springs, Loveland, Thornton, Denver and Boulder), local volunteers and paid circulators collecting signatures to safeguard their communities have reported being followed, yelled at, and physically threatened by unidentified people repeating oil and gas industry talking points. These confrontations come at the same time that industry front groups like CRED and Protect Colorado have greatly expanded an advertising campaign aimed at defeating citizen initiatives to protect the rights, health, and safety of Colorado communities.

In one case, an aggressive man lectured people who had already signed a petition, forcing them to cross their names out. In another, canvassers were followed, yelled at, and threatened throughout the day by a man in a vehicle. There have been social media threats of violence, demeaning language used in public places, and, in one case, an 84-year old canvasser was followed, repeatedly called “crazy,” and physically taunted while trying to walk away. Such acts of intimidation represent a violation of Coloradans’ civil and constitutional rights…

In addition to being an effort to stifle the democratic process, threats of violence and the safety of volunteers must be taken very seriously. Volunteers are working tirelessly to defend the rights of Coloradans through democratic institutions. They are now being made to fear for their safety by paid, untrained, and aggressive actors. Those engaging in legal, democratic signature gathering must be protected and kept safe as they carry out their duties. Threats must be taken seriously by law enforcement.

Tricia Olson, Executive Director of Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking, said: “I wish it were a surprise that oil and gas is using organized harassment of people collecting signatures for our ballot initiatives, but it isn’t. In addition to misleading ads and promotions, we now have assaults on people and our democratic process. Bullies shouldn’t decide our future. Instead, let the people of Colorado decide if they want industrial drilling next door to their homes and neighborhoods.”

The Loveland Reporter-Herald reported on incidents alleged to have occurred in northern Colorado:

Petitioners are trained to avoid engaging in arguments with people while they are working to gather signatures, Henricks said, so he tried telling the man he did not want to try and convince him to sign. The man continued insisting they discuss the issue, calling Henricks “crazy” and “stupid” for advocating for the initiatives, getting within a foot of Henricks and pointing a finger at his chest, according to Henricks.

“I didn’t want to just walk away and pretend he wasn’t there,” Henricks said.

His partner at the event went in to the market to get the manager for help, who them told the man he had to stop yelling or the police would be called…

Incidents of petitioners being harassed or feeling bullied or threatened have been reported in cities across Colorado, including Loveland, according to a news press release from Yes for Health and Safety Over Fracking. All of the alleged incidents have involved people gathering signatures for voter initiatives 75 and 78.

As the Greeley Tribune reports, tensions persisted even as proponents of the measures turned in their signatures:

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Conservation Colorado Backs Local Control Ballot Measure

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

Fracking near a high school in Greeley, Colorado.

A press release from Conservation Colorado yesterday throws support behind Initiative 75, the statewide ballot measure campaign that would enshrine rights of local communities to better control oil and gas development within their boundaries:

Conservation Colorado today endorsed Initiative #75, the ballot measure entitled “Local Government Authority to Regulate Oil and Gas Development.”

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith released the following statement:

We have long believed that local governments should have a say in decisions directly affecting their communities, including if, when, and how drilling occurs within their borders. We made our position clear when we fought for this commonsense policy during our work with the governor’s oil and gas task force, our involvement with the Fort Collins Supreme Court case, and our advocacy for similar bills in multiple legislative sessions. Since little progress has been made in these arenas, we believe there is tremendous merit in putting this measure on the ballot and letting the voters decide.

As oil and gas development creeps closer to homes and schools, it’s critical that we empower local governments to better balance energy development with public health and safety. We are proud to lend our support and resources to this effort.

Initiative 75 is a direct response to court rulings invalidating local moratoria and bans passed by a number of northern Front Range cities in recent years. Another measure that would mandate a large setback between oil and gas and other development is also headed for the November ballot, but there is a growing consensus that the 2,500 foot requirement in that initiative is too large–a de facto ban on development of oil and gas in most of the state. The fact is, there is little political appetite for a wholesale ban on oil and gas development in Colorado, and large inflexible setbacks run counter to the “local control” message that has proven successful in cities that passed their own moratoria and bans.

But giving local governments back the power they lost in court after trying to protect themselves?

This measure has a very good shot at passing.

Trump Supporter Who Poisoned Groundwater Places Trump Billboards on I76

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The plains roll on for hundreds of miles  under blank blue skies near Roggen, Colorado. Sage, scrub grass, fracking tanks, and a few cattle dot the vast landscape.  Roggen itself is a ghost of its former prosperity – the town consists of a grain elevator, a telephone co-op,  two churches, a convenience store, and a post office.

Yet, Roggen boasts two new roadside attractions: gigantic “Trump for President” billboards facing west and east, placed to catch the eyes of all travelers along I76.

Trump billboard on Cervi’s land near Roggen, CO

I wanted to find out who felt strongly enough about Mr. Trump’s candidacy to build, paint, and place these monumental political advertisements in this desolate area. I investigated, and found a family saga rooted in the heyday of Colorado political journalism, in the gas and oil boom years, including rodeo circuit stardom and family tragedy, and the criminal indictment and sentencing of the landowner, Mr. Mike Cervi, for violating the Safe Water Act by injecting petroleum wastes into the High Plains / Ogalalla Aquifer from 2001 – 2002.

Cervi’s Journal – the founding Cervi business

Eugene Cervi produced and edited Cervi’s Rocky Mountain Business Journal in Denver from 1954 until his death in 1970.   Cervi’s Journal later became the Denver Business Journal. “Gene” and his daughter, editor Cle Symons Cervi, were both inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame.   Gene Cervi was twice Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, although he was critical of JFK. Later in his career, the “Journal” became more conservative and more pro-business in viewpoint.

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Bernie Sanders to Supporters: Run for Office, Keep Progressive Agenda Alive

On June 16, 2016, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders  spoke to  his supporters for 25 minutes. Since I have been and am a supporter, I signed up, and took notes on the speech, the important points of which are summarized below. A video link is also included at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot of Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders speech to supporters, screenshot 6/16/16

Most of Bernie’s speech was a list of what progressive Democrats want and fought for, what we want our country to be and to do. As such, there are few surprises in the list.These are not “demands”, as we used to say in the 70s. These are the prerequisites for social and economic justice.

I didn’t expect, but was delighted by, Bernie’s call for his supporters to run for local political office: school boards, county commissioners, entry-level offices, however we can get our feet in the door. I applaud this and agree strongly. That is what it will take for real change. From the bottom up -that’s how change happens. As expected, Sanders called for the party to unify to defeat Donald Trump. He has pledged to support this effort, and will do so.

UPDATE: 6700 people responded to Bernie’s call for public service. Per Berniesanders.com, “The 6,685 supporters who expressed interest in running cover 51 percent of state house districts, 69 percent of state senate districts and every congressional district in the country.”

He called for his 1900 delegates to come in to the convention to create the most progressive platform in Democratic history, and to act on it. He called for a 50 state strategy – decrying the lack of support for Democratic candidates,  allowing right wingers to take red state governments unopposed.

He called for the Democratic National Committee to open its doors, welcome young people and working people. He called for the DNC to embrace a $15 / hour wage. He called for a party which has “the guts” to take on the pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries. He called for stopping the  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) –  it should not come to a vote during a lame duck session of Congress, he said. These are positions which sharply differentiate his policies from those of Hillary Clinton.

What Bernie did not say was more surprising:

  • He did not “concede” defeat in the primary election, although that was implied.
  • He did not endorse Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, although he emphasized that they have much more in common than not.
  • He included very little on foreign policy – only in points 29 and 30 below did he allude to the Department of Defense and wars abroad, and only to emphasize cutting waste in the DoD, and not to spend young people’s lives in unnecessary wars. This was primarily a domestic policy speech.
  • He didn’t talk about the drug war or marijuana legalization, although he criticized the prison industry and school-to-prison pipeline in point 27.
  • He did not call for an end to superdelegates, lobbyist contributions to the DNC. He did not say what his negotiations with rules committee would be. He did not mention today’s big news that unpopular chairwomanDebbie Wasserman Schultz is stepping aside as party chair to allow Brandon Davis to take over operations.
  • He did not mention the numerous allegations of fraud and voter suppression in the Democratic primary.

 

Here’s what the man did say:
1.    The revolution continues – like every movement for social change, civil rights, etc.
2.    In every state, we won the overwhelming majority of those under 45.
3.    We are mainstream, not a fringe movement.  Numbers. 12 million votes, 22 states, Stats on contributions, 75 million phone calls, 5 million doors, 740,000 meetings, etc. Showed that we could run a national campaign without big money contributions. Bulk of contributions came from low income and working people.
4.    In every state, we took on the entire political establishment. Senators, Reps, Governors, elected officials.
5.   6:35  This campaign has never been about any single candidate .
6.    It’s about ending income inequality. It’s about ending corrupt campaign finance by corporations. Creating an economy for all of us, not just the 1%.
7.    Ending status quo: Native American reservation low life expectancy, lower than 3rd world countries. Millions of Americans dying at a younger age than their parents: suicide, drugs, alcohol, highest rate of childhood poverty of any industrialized country on earth. Ending the disgrace, undocumented people exploited on their jobs.
8.    Tens of thousands of Americans dying every year from preventable diseases, because lack health insurance, high deductibles, costly drugs.
9.    Young single mom in Nevada in tears, asking on $10/hr, How can we make it ? Millions like her.
10.    Mom in Flint, Mich. Excessive lead in water, stunted intellectual development of her child. Thousands of CA homes can’t drink tap water.
11.    Homelessness is increasing.  veterans in streets – lack of affordable housing.
12.    Corporations avoid paying a nickel in Federal taxes, stash in tax havens.
13.    6:40 Priority this year is defeating Donald Trump. Makes bigotry the cornerstone of his campaign.  Trump wants to give hundreds of B of $ in tax breaks to very rich, is a climate change denier.
14.    Major political task: Defeat Trump, badly. My role in that process will begin soon. But can’t be our only goal. Must continue grassroots  movement.
15.    Must take our energy in to the Dem convention in Philly with >1900 delegates. I met with Sec. Clinton.
16.    No secret HRC and I have strong disagreements, on important issues but agree on others.
17.    I will make sure that your voices are heard. Democrats will pass the most progressive platform in its history and that we actually fight for that agenda.
18.    I look forward to working with Sec. Clinton to form aparty that has the guts to take on the Pharma, Fossil Fuel industries, others.
19.    Dem party must support raising Fed. minimum wage to $15 / hr.  women .79 / vs men $1. Women must have right to control own bodies. Protect right to gay marriage.
20.    As Orlando has made clear, Ban sale and distribution of assault weapons, gun show loophole, and have instant background checks.
21.    Stop the TPP, must not come to the floor in a lame duck session.
22.    Expand Social security, not cut it.
23.    Greed, recklessness of Wall st must end. Pass a modern Glass Steagal. No more “too big to fail”.
24.    Aggressively combat climate change, impose a tax on carbon. Must protect our water supply by banning fracking.
25.    To compete effectively globally, Make public colleges tuition free reduce student debt.
26.    Join rest of industrialized world – Health care a right, not a privilege
27.    Stop incarcerating more people than any other country – Rein in prison industry, criminal justice reform.
28.    Comprehensive immigration reform for 11 M undocumented people.
29.    Cut waste in every department including Department of Defense.
30.    Can’t keep throwing young people into perpetual unnecessary wars.
31.    6:47 Revolution means more than Fight for our ideals, defeat D Trump. At every level continue to fight for our nation to be just. Current DNC leadership has turned its back on dozens of states, like red states, allowed right wing to run unopposed, we need a 50 state strategy. Must provide resources to ignored and poor states.
32.    Leadership, DNC must open its doors, welcome working people and young people. That is the energy we need to transform the Democratic party and our country. Cold hard fact. Since 2009, some 900 legislative seats have been lost to Republicans.  We must Start engaging at local and state level in unprecedented way.
33.    Young people deeply concerned about country and community. Start running for office! School boards, commissioners, whatever! Be prepared to engage at that level.
34.    6:50 With energy and enthusiasm our campaign has shown, we can win significant numbers of offices at down ticket level. We need new blood. You are that new blood.
35.    Government is not the enemy.(what Republicans say). I disagree. Government must protect us and our planet. But we need to attract dedicated people from all walks of life to run for office.
36.    Tens of thousands of new Dr.s, medical personnel, where people lack care.
37.    We need child care workers, teachers.
38.    We need scientists, engineers, entrepeneurs to work for renewables, efficient and cost effective as possible. Construction.
39.    Business people who respect employees and environment.
40.    Conclude: we have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America. My hope is that when historians look back and find when we began reversing the trend towards oligarchy. They see that the political revolution began in 2016. 6:53. Dark screen.

Version 1 of this diary posted at caucus99percent.com

Video available here and here

Full transcript of Sanders’ speech from Burlington Free Press

To recruit candidates, go to berniesanders.com/win

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 15)

MoreSmarterLogo-SunscreenDon’t forget the sunscreen — it’s going to be pretty damn warm for the next couple of days. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! 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…

► Two weeks from today, the Colorado Primary Election will finally be behind us. If you haven’t yet received a mail ballot, check your registration or address status ASAP. Go to JustVoteColorado.org for more information.

 

► Aurora Democrat Eric Nelson — or some guy who says his name is Eric Nelson — continues to receive calls to drop out of the Democratic Primary in HD-42 after it was revealed by several news outlets that Nelson is an evil genius con artist whose resume is largely fictional. Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman broke the original story first, and followed up yesterday with an extensive update detailing Nelson’s bizarre attempts to falsify college diplomas in a failed effort to cast doubt on Luning’s reporting.

Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 also has more on this story, while the Aurora Sentinel is following discussions of the Aurora School Board, of which Nelson is a member.

 

► You are probably aware that Donald Trump has clinched the Republican nomination for President, but you may not be aware of how little Trump has been able to move forward in the 43 days since taking hold of the nomination. From “The Fix”:

Today, Trump is no closer to uniting the Republican party or pivoting to the general election than he was six weeks ago. And that is, at minimum, a massive waste of a critical time period and, at worst, a mistake that will could severely jeopardize his chances of winning the White House in November.

Trump’s time as the near-certain Republican nominee have been dominated by self-inflicted wounds — the most gaping of which is his suggestion that a federal judge overseeing a case involving Trump University was biased and should recuse himself due to the fact that he is of Mexican heritage. Trump doubled down on that comment, then tripled down on it  — even amid widespread outrage among Republicans already concerned that their nominee was dabbling (at least) in race-baiting.  Eventually,Trump released a statement insisting his comments about Gonzalo Curiel had been “misconstrued.” He did not apologize for making the comment…

…Yes, modern campaigns last forever. But, they are almost always defined by a small group of critical moments that change the trajectory of races.  The last six weeks was a major moment. Trump wasted it.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Millions in U.S. at Elevated Health Risk from Oil and Gas

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Over twelve million Americans are at increased risk of cancer and other adverse health impacts from oil and gas development according to a new report that reviews current peer-reviewed science and health studies, and a new mapping tool that allows potentially impacted residents to gauge threat risk.

Using the latest peer-reviewed research into the health impacts attributed to oil and gas air pollution, the map conservatively draws a ½ mile health threat radius around each facility. Within that total area are: 12.4 million people; 11,543 schools and 639 medical facilities; and 184,578 square miles, an area larger than California.

Oil and gas development in Weld County sited between a school and subdivision.

The interactive Oil and Gas Threat Map was developed by Earthworks, which partnered with the Clean Air Task Force in developing the study and tools. CATF simultaneously issued a report: Fossil Fumes.

The report finds that: 238 counties in 21 states face a cancer risk that exceeds EPA’s one-in-a-million threshold level of concern; Combined, these counties have a population of over 9 million people and are mainly located in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Colorado. Of these counties, 43 face a cancer risk that exceeds one in 250,000, and two counties in West Texas (Gaines and Yoakum) face a cancer risk that exceeds one in 100,000; 32 counties, primarily in Texas and West Virginia, also face a respiratory health risk from toxic air emissions that exceeds EPA’s level of concern (with a hazard index greater than one).

The report comes out as petitions are in the field regarding several ballot measures that would restrict where and how oil and gas development can occur in Colorado. It also comes on the heels of the Colorado released findings from its own air quality study in Garfield County. That study which looked at emissions during well drilling and completion of new wells found the highest level of air pollutants, including known carcinogens, during the “flowback” stage of well completion.

Notably, the team observed higher rates of emission of many volatile organic compounds and methane during flowback operations than during drilling or hydraulic fracturing. Flowback is last in the chain of well completion events, and refers to water and fracking fluids flowing up from the ground after injection of water and chemicals into the well, the process known as hydraulic fracturing.

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas that has been targeted for emission reductions by the state of Colorado and the federal government, was the most abundant compound in measured emissions, with median emissions of 2.0, 2.8, and 40 grams per second (g/s) for drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and flowback activities, respectively. Other emitted VOCs of interest and their overall median emission rates included ethane (median emission rate of 0.31 g/s), propane (0.15 g/s) and other short-chain hydrocarbons that are important constituents of natural gas. They also looked at air toxics such as benzene (0.04 g/s) and toluene (0.27 g/s). Wide ranges of emissions were observed both across activity types and within a given activity.

(more…)