Denver Post’s Bizarre Backhanded Endorsement of Beauprez

THURSDAY UPDATE: Sen. Cory Gardner adds some Marcomentum to Beauprez’s bid:

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Bob Beauprez.

Bob Beauprez.

Moments ago, the Denver Post’s editorial board released…well, the title makes it clear it’s an endorsement of two-time Colorado GOP gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez for Interior Secretary in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, but the content?

It’s not quite damning with faint praise, but…

We were glad to learn Beauprez had made President-elect Donald Trump’s list for the position that oversees federal lands, even if environmentalists were not.

Beauprez has gotten a bad rap in the environmental community, perhaps deservedly, [Pols emphasis] as a man who subdivided his parents’ farm into a sprawling housing development and golf course in Lafayette. And for his recorded votes in Congress to open up more federal lands for oil and gas leasing while reducing regulation surrounding critical habitats for endangered species.

Remember, folks, this is a newspaper with a longstanding editorial tradition at least somewhat in acknowledgement of fundamentals like science and critical thinking. And we are talking about a politician who says that climate change is a “complete hoax.”

But apparently, says the Post’s editorial board, that’s no problem! Because the world is going to hell anyway.

No seriously, that’s what they say:

It’ll be a stark transition for the nation’s public lands no matter who Trump taps as the next secretary of the interior. [Pols emphasis] For Colorado and the West, that transition will be made a bit easier by having someone in office who we know and trust.

With a few edits, this endorsement of Beauprez for Interior Secretary could made easily made into an editorial opposing his nomination. It’s not the first time the Post’s editorial board has left us scratching our heads as to the decisions that led to an oddly-worded backhanded endorsement, which are sometimes rumored to emanate from a higher level than the editorial board members themselves. If so, that could indicate Beauprez is a more serious candidate for the job than first thought, in which case we’ll be talking about “Both Ways Bob” much more going forward.

Either way, in this case not only is the Post again making an endorsement contrary to their stated editorial position on the pertinent issues, they’re straining their credibility to the breaking point to do it.

Beauprez Would “Very Much Enjoy” Interior Secretary Job

(God help us all – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

beauprezdemsfearIn what appear to be his most extensive comments yet on his possible appointment as Trump’s Secretary of Interior, former congressman Bob Beauprez told KOA 850-AM listeners this morning why he’d be a good fit for the job.

“This is where most of the federal land is,” Beauprez observed a day after ColoradoPolitics.com first reported that he was being considered for the job. “And I think, to get someone in that role who understands water, natural resources, land, wildlife, mixed-use of those lands and resources, I think it’s very important.  So, I’ve long thought that it might be a job that I would very much enjoy.  And I think my life as a rancher/farmer would fit the job very well.”

Beauprez, who lost his second gubernatorial race in Colorado in 2014, told hosts Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh that building pipelines like the Dakota Access project, is “something that has to happen,” but, as Interior Secretary, he’d like to find a compromise that “everybody can live with.”

“I know that the Indan tribes have had some concerns about their sacred lands,” said Beauprez. “And those, I think, are legitimate concerns.  The important thing, I think, in a job like that is to try to find a good compromise that everybody can live with.  But I’ve long thought that we needed to improve – and I’m not alone on this.  We need to improve the transportation infrastructure for our oil and gas reserves, as well.  So, building pipelines is something that has to happen.  And in the West, where we’ve got so much federal land, that land is going to be part the mix.  No doubt about it.”

Beauprez said there “has been some limited communication between myself and some of the folks that are part of the transition process.”

He said on air that he’s spoken with people “very close” to both Trump and David Longley Bernhardt, who’s apparently from Colorado and part of the Trump transition team.

Beauprez said his wife, who he referred to as his “biggest cheerleader” is supportive of his joining the Trump Administration.

Joe Salazar Joins Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Rep. Joe Salazar.

Rep. Joe Salazar.

A local angle on a story making headlines across the country, after police in North Dakota used water cannons in freezing weather on protesters sending many to the hospital. CBS4 Denver reports:

Protesters are trying to block the construction of the 1,100-mile oil pipeline. They say it threatens drinking water on the nearby American-Indian reservation. Some Coloradans are part of the protest, and one Colorado state lawmaker plans to join them.

The Dakota Access Pipeline stretches from oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois. It’s largely complete except for a section that runs under a Missouri River reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The tribe went to court to stop it, but lost. Protesters aren’t giving up and police are cracking down.

“It’s 10 degrees outside and they’re spraying people down with water,” said Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton.

After watching the standoff in North Dakota unfold for months, Salazar says he can no longer stand by.

As CBS reports, Rep. Salazar played a key role in killing legislation that would have granted oil companies eminent domain rights to construct pipelines, so his interest in the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline makes sense. Supporters of the pipeline argue that it’s a much safer and cheaper transportation method than oil trains, but the Standing Rock Sioux cite both treaties and environmental threats in their determined protest.

Wherever you stand on the issue, water cannons in the bitter North Dakota cold don’t seem like a good idea.

We Give Up: Bob “Elk Whisperer” Beauprez Considered For Interior Secretary

"Both Ways" Bob Beauprez (right).

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

That’s the news sending palms crashing into foreheads around Colorado this Monday evening: two-time Colorado gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez, one of the most spectacular failures in our state’s modern political history, is being “considered” by Republican President-elect Donald Trump for the job of Secretary of the Interior! As GOP metaspox “reporter” Dan Njegomir is excited to announce from the Phil Anschutz-owned Colorado Springs Gazette:

Colorado Republican former congressman Bob Beauprez confirmed reports today that he is among those under consideration to become the Trump administration’s secretary of the interior, a Cabinet post of pivotal importance to Colorado and the West…

Reached for comment this afternoon, Beauprez—a former dairy farmer, current bison rancher and businessman who made two runs for governor and remains a state GOP mover and shaker—expressed enthusiasm for the position but stressed his inclusion on the list of prospects is very preliminary…

Bob Beauprez’s second failed bid for governor in 2014 was one of the nastiest campaigns in recent memory, slinging so much mud at the popular incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper that it backfired–costing Beauprez votes in an otherwise very good election for Republicans in Colorado and nationally. Along the way to Beauprez’s second loss two years ago, his long history of militant whackadoodlery, “birther” blatherings about President Barack Obama, and gaffes like claiming that 75% of African-American pregnancies end in abortion were all revisited in media coverage.

Elk (left) and Bob Beauprez

Elk (left) and Bob Beauprez

With regard to the environmental and land use policy Beauprez would direct as Interior Secretary, he managed to position himself well to the right of Hickenlooper–already known as one of the most energy development-friendly Democratic governors in America. In 2006, Beauprez was lampooned for his suggestion that elk could be “trained” to avoid oil and gas production sites (see title).

And in 2009, Beauprez wrote in his book A Return To Values that climate change “at best a grossly overhyped issue and at worst a complete hoax foisted on most of the world.”

The only thing we can say about this news that the same Bob Beauprez Colorado politics has known for so many years is being considered for Secretary of the Interior, is that like Trump’s choice of the white nationalist chief political strategist, the National Security Advisor who calls one of the world’s great religions a “cancer,” and the Attorney General who said the KKK was “okay” until he realized they “smoke pot,” Beauprez is the absolutely perfect choice for the job of the nation’s chief protector of our land and water and people.

And by perfect, we of course mean perfectly disastrous.

In CD3 race, Schwartz and Tipton radio interviews reveal contrasts on public land management positions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gail Schwartz.

Gail Schwartz.

During separate interviews broadcast last Wednesday on KSJD (91.5 FM, Cortez), host Austin Cope questioned the two major party candidates running for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District seat, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) and former legislator and CU Regent, Democrat Gail Schwartz from Crested Butte. Their answers highlighted one of the more contentious issues emanating from the coverage of their race: Schwartz’s attacks on Tipton’s record in protecting and managing federal lands in Colorado, and Tipton pushing back by characterizing her attacks as misleading or untrue.

In recent weeks, the CD3 race has gained unexpected attention, with a volatile campaign landscape in an unconventional and somewhat unpredictable presidential cycle, attracting late and significant increases in political spending from Colorado entities and out-of-state sources.

Schwartz has benefited from a surge in momentum in a district where Republicans were previously heavily favored.

The candidates’ contrasting policy positions on public land management have been highlighted in reporting and endorsements from an array of Western Slope and front range media outlets, including The Daily SentinelThe Durango Herald, Real Vail, The Pueblo Chieftain, The Colorado Independentand Colorado Public Radio.  

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Trump Blows Sunshine Up Big Oil’s Kazoo

UPDATE: Pete Maysmith at Conservation Colorado’s statement:

This is just another example on the never-ending list of how wrong Trump is for Colorado and our values. From not being able to articulate a plan for protecting our public lands to saying he would appoint an oil executive to the Interior Department and now this, Trump couldn’t be positioning himself further away from being a leader who will champion and support our Colorado way of life. It’s clear that oil companies and special interests will benefit the most from a Donald Trump presidency, not everyday Coloradans.

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J.R. Ewing.

J.R. Ewing.

Politico’s Elana Schor reporting from the 80s-chic office towers of the Denver Energy Center downtown, where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spent this morning assuring the movers and shakers in Colorado’s energy industry that he’s on their side:

Donald Trump huddled Tuesday with oil and gas executives in Colorado, expanding his outreach to an industry that has seen its influence grow in the Republican nominee’s campaign after some early missteps.

Trump told the industry he would reduce regulations, in contrast to the approach of President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Safety and environmental rules are necessary, Trump told the executives, according to a pool report, but there are also “regulations that are totally unnecessary and put people out of work.” He apparently did not get into specifics in the 10 minutes reporters were allowed to stay in the room…

It seems that even behind closed doors with our local J.R. Ewing set, Trump is still firmly implanted in his own special bubble:

Trump’s meeting in Denver comes as two polls this week showed Clinton with an 11-point lead in Colorado. Trump brought up polls of the state and told the oil executives “we’re doing really well,” according to the pool report. [Pols emphasis]

Do tell! But speaking seriously for a moment, Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks about how local voter control over oil and gas drilling might be a good thing, like most Republicans usually say about “local control,” really hasn’t sat well with Colorado energy interests who find the ever-accommodating Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s oversight just fine thank you! A surrogate’s assurances that Trump didn’t really mean it haven’t helped calm jangled nerves on the subject. Might Trump’s whimsy-driven “populism” turn and bite them in the backside someday?

Relax, you’ve got nothing to worry about, oil guys! Because Trump is doing really well.

AG Coffman Shouldn’t Impede Colorado’s Clean Energy Future

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Yesterday the lawsuit to stop the President’s Clean Power Plan from moving forward began its oral argument in the court. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) is the EPA rule that seeks to limit carbon pollution from power plants under the authority of the Clean Air Act.

The lawsuit is backed by some 27 state attorneys general, including Colorado’s Cynthia Coffman, and lots of fossil fuel and utility interests. Colorado Public Radio recently gave a rundown on the CPP and the lawsuit.

Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman signed on with about two dozen other states to challenge a key provision of the Obama administration’s fight against global warming. It seeks to reduce carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030.

Climate is in the news for lots of reasons. Based on all the election coverage and sideshow reporting it might be easy to forget that the world goes on, for instance pollution still happens, aside from all this.

Recent news we might tune into includes the conclusion by some scientists that our planet’s atmosphere passed the 400 ppm of CO2 for good—a threshold well past the 350 ppm that some have long tied to a planetary tipping point.

The International Business Times reports:

Now, scientists at the Mauna Loa Observatory have revealed another sobering finding. This September — usually a month when the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are at their lowest levels in the northern hemisphere, the level of the greenhouse gas remained stubbornly above the 400 ppm.

 

This measurement all but ensures that monthly carbon dioxide levels won’t drop below 400 ppm any time in the foreseeable future.

Still the lawsuit and arguments are taking up a lot of the space for climate news. In the CPR story listeners learn that Colorado’s state leadership is split on the Clean Power Plan:

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Yes, Scott Tipton Voted Against Public Lands


A new ad today from the congressional campaign of Democrat Gail Schwartz, running for incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton’s CD-3 seat covering the Western Slope and parts of southeast Colorado including Pueblo, hits Tipton for his support for “selling off public lands.” The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports that Tipton’s campaign is most displeased:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., is taking issue with his Democratic rival’s newest television ad.

In it, former state Sen. Gail Schwartz says Tipton wants to sell off public lands and make them available to private individuals and corporations.

That’s not even close to being true, Tipton said.

“I’ve been a longtime advocate of keeping our federal public lands and ensuring that the American people have continued access to them,” Tipton said. [Pols emphasis]

“Never once have I advocated to sell them off.”

In the ad, called “Public Lands,” Schwartz said Tipton “wants to cut off access to public lands for generations to come, killing thousands of jobs,” adding that the land should remain open for ranching, hunting and fishing.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

We’re a little confused about this report on Schwartz’s new ad–according to Ashby, Schwartz offered as justification for the claim legislation that doesn’t quite go the distance in terms of demonstrating Tipton’s willingness to sell off public lands. Because Ashby’s story doesn’t quote a bill number, it’s not so easy to figure out what he’s referring to.

But it really doesn’t matter–because in about five minutes of Googling, we found a recent vote from Tipton that proves Schwartz is right. On July 14th of this year, fellow Colorado Rep. Jared Polis offered this amendment to H.R. 5538, the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017:

Mr. POLIS. Mr. Chairman, I offer this amendment, along with my colleague, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Grijalva), the ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee.

The amendment is very simple. It offers a choice for those in Congress to make. It is a choice for Members to vote on whether we want to keep our public lands public or not. [Pols emphasis]

Very simply, my amendment says that none of the funds available through this bill can be used in violation of the law with regard to keeping our public lands public. This amendment would not undo anything or undermine any current congressional or administrative land exchanges that are done legally.

The amendment would, however, prohibit the use of funds in this bill to pursue any extra-legal ways to turn Federal land over to private owners through various things like a commission, or others that have been espoused…

I would point out that there are Members in this body–in fact, the chair of the authorizing committee in this general area–who speak regularly about privatizing our public lands, so there is a real threat. This is not simply something that comes out of nowhere. I think the peace of mind that we would get by including this kind of language in an appropriations bill would make it very clear that Congress supports the opinion of the American people, supports the economy in districts like mine, and wants to keep our public lands public.

Despite Rep. Polis’ advocacy on the floor of the U.S. House in favor of this amendment, it was defeated by the GOP majority on a 239-188 vote. One of the “no” votes against Polis’ amendment was the very same Rep. Scott Tipton who now says with great offense that he “has always supporting keeping our federal lands.”

tiptonpubliclandsno

We doubt this is the only such vote from Rep. Tipton that could be reasonably considered “against public lands,” but it’s a very clear example, as well as quite recent. The fact is that, whatever Tipton’s personal views may be, selling off public lands for private exploitation is a very popular cause among many of Tipton’s fellow Western Republicans. If Tipton has ever chosen to stand up to his “Sagebrush Rebellion” colleagues, it’s nothing we’ve seen break the surface in public.

And just over a month before the election, it’s too late now.

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.

(more…)

Scott Tipton Attack On Gail Schwartz Over Coal Crash Crashes

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

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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.

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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.