Big Oil Loses Bigly In Erie Elections

As the Boulder Daily Camera’s Anthony Hahn reports:

Final returns on Tuesday for Erie’s municipal election, billed in recent months as a referendum on the town’s renewed post-Firestone approach to oil and gas regulation, confirmed a wide-margin victory for mayoral candidate Jennifer Carroll…

“I think (the win) pretty simply means that people care about oil and gas and want their elected officials to take a stand,” Carroll said after the first wave of results were released Tuesday evening. “I kept my campaign classy and honest, I only talked about my ideals for Erie, and my focus was on residents and how I can engage them better. I think that resonated with them.”

Carroll’s win likely signals more of the same for the town and a more aggressive approach to local control over energy development as a deluge of drilling plans appears aimed at the region.

It comes despite some serious bankrolling from pro-oil and gas interests in the days leading up to the election. On Friday, paperwork unveiled that Vital for Colorado, a group with past attempts at influencing local elections, had poured more than $55,000 in election activists in support of “pro business” candidates.

We last discussed leading oil and gas industry political group Vital For Colorado following municipal elections in Greeley last fall. The group spent lavishly in support of pro-oil and gas candidates for Greeley City Council–but the effort blew up in their faces after one of the candidates they backed was found to be a convicted felon, which disqualified him from serving.

In cities where the rights of surface land users (meaning people) and mineral extraction rights are in fundamental conflict, the oil and gas industry is losing more elections they contest than they win. This is a shift that has been going on for some years in Colorado. Decisions by residential Front Range cities to assert greater control over oil and gas drilling within their boundaries, which have been generally overruled by the courts, have resulted in numerous defeats for pro-oil and gas municipal candidates despite the disproportionate amounts of money spent by the industry. This groundswell of opposition to oil and gas drilling in residential areas also provoked the industry to fund the controversial Amendment 71, which tries to impede constitutional ballot initiatives and thus prevent advocates of greater local control over oil and gas drilling from passing one. Unfortunately for the industry, Amendment 71 may itself be unconstitutional.

In all of these storylines, there is one consistent theme: local communities trying to protect themselves from heavy industry near their homes and schools, and the oil and gas industry trying to stop them from protecting themselves.

Unless you’re on the payroll of the industry, it’s an easy choice. And once again voters have made it.

43 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Voyageur says:

    So, the Left loftily informs us that surface rights holders are people! Wow.  Who knew?

    Now, does that mean that People don't own mineral rights?  Maybe only platypuses own mineral rights?  I own the mineral rights to our farm and could have sworn I was a people.

    Maybe mineral rights owners  could be  counted as three-fifths of a people.  Obviously, mineral rights owners have no rights that surface rights owners are required to honor, isn't that what the Dred Scott decision said?

    See you in court, overlords.  Power to the platypuses!

  2. Gray in Mountains says:

    Seems O&G supporters believe that mineral rights are superior to surface rights. It's a quandary for sure, one that seems to argue against a split estate.


    • Voyageur says:

      Superior, no.  Equal, yes.  So, if the guy owning the surface rights ca n build his mcmansion there and the gal with themineral rights can extract her gas, everybody's happy?  Uhh, no, because the surface people want to steal the mineral rights without compensation.  See you in court, clown, where I will ram the fifth amendment up your ass.

      Get ready to hurt😈

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Hold on there junior, you’re starting to turn purple again . . . 

        Is there anyplace you own mineral rights that you don’t already own the surface rights, also?  Is this a case where that thievin’ “surface people,” who have you so pissed off, is you?

        Anyway, reliable sources tell me suing yourself is a damned expensive proposition these days.  Minimum of two attorneys representing you – against you?  No incentive for one party to settle (. . . the mind boggles — ka’ching times two equals ka’ching-ka’ching . . .).  Just working out proper service could be hugely problematic . . . 

        Maybe you could get both those belligerents into the same room for a chat session or two with a good mediator, or a therapist, instead?

        • Voyageur says:

          Oh, but the Stalinist caucus still dreams of a 2,500 foot setback — and not one acre of our farm could be developed under that rule.

          Remember, the surface rights are owned by "people" so the rest of us are just morlocks or platypuses or some other less than people thing.

          Sadly for these leftist buffoons, the United States constitution says they can't steal our property without just compensation.

          Can't wait to get their skanky asses in court!

          • Diogenesdemar says:

            You’re just itching to convert all your mineral wealth into attorney fees, eh? . , . 

            See, I pretty much knew your issue was setbacks — and don’t get me started on all the public easements I have to put up with, but anyway — but that you prefer to couch your concerns about your real issue in disingenuous codgerly bluster, instead.

            So, and I imagine you have some surface property too, what, if any do you think is a reasonable setback for oil and gas drilling and production?  One that won’t cause you to turn more than pleasantly reddish?

            Seems to me, that some kind of compromise — a minimum setback of X, unless the surface owner(s) and the minerals owner put it into a written agreement, might solve a whole lot of bluster and discoloration?

            ps.  Echidnas are way more cool than platapi . . . 

            • Duke Cox says:

              When V. claims he would be prevented from developing his minerals by a 2,500 ft. setback, he is purposely not mentioning the word "waiver". Any surface owner or dweller can waive any setback right, so V.s' claim is specious.

              The Mining Act of 1872 is the primary culprit, but having explained the basic unfairness of the split estate more times than I can remember I will resort this time to referring the excellent documentary film, "Split Estate", which tells the story of the rape of Garfield County.



              • Voyageur says:

                Given that the surface owners are desperate to stop mineral development, Duke, exactly why would they issue such a waiver?

                • Diogenesdemar says:

                  Umm, just in case you forgot, in your case, you are the surface owner, right?

                  • Voyageur says:

                    Did you take a double dose of stupid pills this morning. Dio?  Or do you really not understand that the setback ban lets my nimby neighbor stop development?

                    • Diogenesdemar says:

                      Triple actually . . . 

                      (. . . I wanted to be able to converse at your level.)

                      My bad, I thought you said you had a “farm”?

                      Where I come from no one would dare call anything less than a full section a “farm.” (Maybe a “dog run,” an “acreage,” a “ranchette,” or, if you’re sufficiently snooty, a “horse property”??)

                      Not sure why you, or anyone, would want to drill their dog run, but hell, after three decades here there’s lots I still don’t understand about Colorado and its ranchette covenants . . .

                      Whatdaya’ grow, poodles or tulips? . . .


                    • Voyageur says:

                      We've had ours since 1887 and are a listed century farm.  So your "three decades" isn't very impressive, carpetbagger😈

          • Diogenesdemar says:

            Pss — “Stalinist caucus”?  Good gawd . . . 

      • Gray in Mountains says:

        You,V, begin by assuming I oppose you. But, in fact, "equal" right only assures conflict. Because, i, the homeowner, prefer that my house not blow up today.

        • Voyageur says:

           I am mostly just mocking the fatuous left wing announcement that "surface rights owners are people."

           Well, the rest of us aren't platypuses, we is people too.


          Of course, slave owners is people.  The SS was staffed wholly by people.

          most of the evil in this world is done by people. Dogs and cats do most of the good.

          I agree with you that split estates are a poor idea, but the answer isn't to let arrogant new arrivals to steal everyone else's rights without compensation.

          The house that blew up occurred because arrogant developers built willy nilly over long abandoned wells and greedy local governments approved those plans.  It had nothing to do with mineral rights owners developing their existing 

          rights in a lawful and careful manner.

          Rights have to be balanced against other rights, that’s what the constitution is for. Otherwise, the 70 percent of us not now using renewables are back to freezing in the dark.

          • Diogenesdemar says:

            Maybe we should require that arrogant new arrivals not build over existing oil/gas lines (and vice versa, too — cuz’ fair’s fair)?

            Don’t like that, huh?

            Ok, then, how about requiring publicly mapping of all existing oil/gas lines, active or abandoned, let the buyer/builder beware?  (Part of any title/survey search for property sales.) Of course, then you’d have surface owners suing the shit out of the worms (subsurface dwellers) for “taking” value from their surface rights, cuz’ who wants to build a splodin’ house over some messed up, improperly abandoned gas lines?

            Life is a pickle . . .

            • Voyageur says:

              Of course, I like that.  I've fought for reasonable land use rules for 40 years.  Greedhead developers buy farms and ranches, turn them into condos and quarter acre lots, keep the mineral rights, and we're off to the races.

              Cities and counties in turn , greedy for new taxes, approve those developments without checking for old, abandoned mines and wells.

              Inevitably, somebody gets killed.  And some nitwit thinks the answer is for "people", i.e. The condo owners, to run roughshod over the rights of platypuses and bears who drill for the natural gas that keeps those condos warm in winter and cool in summer.

              The bears don't like it and sue the people.  The platypuses, the male ones anyway, use their venomous spurs to drive the developers away.  

              The eagles try to mediate but they are killed by the wind farms.

              See what you started?

      • MADCO says:

        get out now before you hurt yourself

  3. mamajama55 says:

    This was great to see, and a real victory. Next up, Greeley, with Carl Erickson running for Weld County Commissioner. Carl is a genuine grassroots activist, one of the citizen leaders of Weld Air and Water,  been out as a gay man since before it was cool, and would be a powerful voice for change in Frack City (Greeley).


  4. mamajama55 says:

    Farmers who are adapting to the new energy economy are thriving.

    In Lamar, as early as 2004, farmers were leasing their surface space for wind turbines and collecting $850- 1200 a month per turbine. There is a 20 mile stretch of road around Limon lined with hundreds of turbines, each of which is generating income for the landowner.

    While the turbines do create some noise, there is no toxic pollution or lasting damage to the water or risk of earthquakes. And there is that $1200/turbine income. $9 million for Colorado farmers in 2016 alone.

    Nationwide, farmers were collecting $222 million from leasing space for wind turbines in 2017.

    Then there is the distributed energy cooperative model; in Iowa, farmers are both using the collected power on site, and storing or selling the rest to the utility. They are pooling their land leases in order to offer a more attractive package to developers. I think that might just be the best blend of socialism and capitalism I've seen.

    They must be heeding the words of that canny old farmer and editor, Bob Ewegen, who in 2008 wrote,

    Today, when I see the new windmills of eastern Colorado sending pollution-free power to the cities or see rooftop-mounted photovoltaic cells or solar water heaters, I just smile and say, “Welcome back.”

    The funny thing is, my ancestors never knew they were pioneering environmentalists. They just thought they were poor folks getting by.

    But they were rich in self-reliance and ingenuity — and I applaud the fact that our society is finally returning to those bedrock values.


    • Voyageur says:

      Didn't the Post fire that old commie when they went hard-right?

      • MichaelBowman says:

        We were quite fond of our ‘plains homey’ back in the day! (even if he was a Holyoke Dragon) 

      • MichaelBowman says:

        Even though our pet troll doesn't consider energy, 'energy' unless it comes from something baby Jesus hid under the Earth's crust 6,000 years ago, and even though 30% of the electrons he's consuming while posting his drivel is coming from eastern CO wind farms, renewable energy farmers are also constrained on how they harvest their resources and get them to the marketplace.  There is no free market; I can't take my wind and solar resources, convert them to electrons, enter into an agreement with someone who wants them, and be off to the races.  

        In Germany Energiewende was an invention of the very conservative Bavarian region farmers who had had enough of the monopolies that controlled the grid. Take 10 days and visit the rural regions of Germany and see the magic that happens when farmers are able to do what they do best: innovate. 

        • Davie says:

          More like Retired with Extreme Prejudice.  As I recall, he had a sort of NDA that prevented his creating written content on non-Denver Post sites, thus leading to his sudden absence.  Talking to a friendly reporter, thus indirectly getting a sanitized explanation out presumably skirted the terms of his separation agreement.  

          But of course, only Ewegen or his spokesperson could confirm my speculation. wink

  5. Voyageur says:

    30 percent renewable is a good start, but the little matter of that other 70 percent needs addressing.

    The problem of the gas haters is they pretend that we could be all renewable tomorrow morning 8 a.m. If it wasn't for the evil and gas trust.  Alas, the question of how to store that energy to have it when we need it is far from solved.  And those big SUVs with their "no war for oil" stickers aren't running off solar panels.

    Above all, we need to double our output of nuclear energy, now just 20 percent of our electric grid.  Raise nuclear to 40 percent, put major investment in pumped storage like cabin creek, and wind /solar could fill most of the gap.   But we need natural gas as a bridge fuel for a long time.

    The West, blessed with ample wind, solar,hydro and cheap natural gas, has little need for nuclear, btw. But the east will need nukes big time to reach zero emissions.
    Senor Bowman, you might repost your article about how hemp may provide cheap giant capacitors. That is the type of thing the feds should pay to research, not more offshore drilling.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      There are scores of German villages running on 100% energy.  Once you’ve broken the back of the centralized, monopoly model and go back to distributed, community-owned models a whole new world opens up.  I believe Xcel Energy hit a couple of 60% + peaks of renewables recently. We have the technology to get us to 100% – this is purely an issue of political will.  Save the natural gas for chemicals and other high-value products. Jimmy Carter said it best: (paraphrasing) why are we throwing the equivalent  of valuable antiques into the fireplace for heat when we have better options? 

      Like you, I like my showers hot and my beer cold. That doesn’t require natural gas (and I’m not anti- natural gas if it’s extracted properly) 

    • mamajama55 says:

      You do tend to assume people are "gas haters", who also happen to be Stalinists ….and skanks. Did I forget any insults?

      Oh – buffoon.

      I actually am in favor of saving natural gas and oil, too, for mobile applications that need very BTU-rich fuel to run (like airplanes).  I'm not for a ban on drilling and fracking, and I'm not foolish enough to think we could all be "renewable at 8 am tomorrow". I doubt that others do, either.

      But I am for a 2500' setback because that appears to be the safe distance to evacuate to  in the event of a gas  or oil pipeline leak. And we have many of those in Colorado.

      I did not vote for the Democratic platform resolution for a "ban on fracking", believe it or not – I think that polarizes the debate and keeps people entrenched in their positions, rather than searching for steps to a solution. And – a “fracking ban” is not going to happen in Colorado, at least not until we’ve built up a renewable infrastructure to replace fossil fuels for energy.

      However, I am endorsing the Colorado Rising 2500' setback ballot initiative. If that makes me a Stalinist skanky gas hating buffoon in your book, oh well. It says more about you than about me…. but you might want to think about changing out  a few of the book's pages.

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        There was something there about platupi also, but I can’t say for sure — it’s rather muddled and incoherent, and honestly, aftet a point, I’ve learned that there’s little benefit of trying to make sense of it all . . . 

        PS — maybe he mistyped “skunk”, who knows?  I lost track of all the animals.  Don’t ask . . . 

      • Voyageur says:

        Dio, didn't you bring in the echidna, the other member of the monotreme order?


      • Voyageur says:

        Since a 2500 foot setback takes at least 84 percent of Colorado gas out of production, it's fair to say the advocates want a total ban but are too hypocritical to admit it.  Happily, the courts have seen such confiscations for what they are.  And when O and G spends a few billion to defend its very existence, don't be surprised if a lot of left-wing politicians are wiped out in the backlash.

        • Colorado Pols says:

          The oily tides are shifting. All of these recent losses for o&g backed candidates shows that there is a point of diminishing returns for campaign spending related to these issues. Money is not a solution anymore.

  6. MADCO says:

    get out now before you hurt yourself

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