A clip we were forwarded from last Friday’s episode of Colorado Inside Out:
This will destroy Weld County. It will wipe out their tax revenues and wouldn’t surprise me if they start another secession movement, uh over this because that’s it’s no longer an economically viable county, uh with what’s going to be done with it. And for their own survival, uh would be better off uh joining Northeast Colorado and uh then in Nebraska or Wyoming. [Pols emphasis]
That’s Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute, calling with a straight face for Weld County to secede from Colorado in the event that Senate Bill 19-181 passes–legislation to increase local control of oil and gas development decisionmaking. We can start by fairly easily debunking the baseless claim that this legislation “would destroy Weld County,” since by definition a bill increasing local control over oil and gas drilling would give pro-energy areas of the state like Weld County the power to “drill baby drill” if they chose to. It’s not at all like, for example Amendment 74, which would have upended any sense of local control over oil and gas and every other zoning decision.
This is a nice way of saying that Dave Kopel’s statement above is completely ridiculous.
Let’s talk about that.
The Independence Institute is one of the more storied conservative advocacy groups in Colorado, a “stink tank” originally founded in the early 1980s by Tom Tancredo backed by New Right funders including the Coors family to provide an argumentative underpinning for the Republican politics that eventually reached their peak of control in this state during the 2002 elections. A combination of pseudo-intellectual white paper outreach to friendly lawmakers and political antics mostly carried out by their shock-jock longtime executive director Jon Caldara, the Independence Institute’s year-round agenda and well-paid ranks of staff have remained a force in Colorado politics even though the wins in the past decade have become few and far between.
Although Jon Caldara has willingly–some would say happily–sacrificed personal credibility to become the state’s pre-eminent conservative prankster, Kopel and the so-called “research” department of the Independence Institute are supposed to be a little more serious in their approach. That means Kopel isn’t personally out there trying to break election law or using children with disabilities as political props.
But when Kopel calls a good idea the biggest political joke of the last decade in Colorado, which dismally failed including in Weld County the last time they tried it, we feel like it’s okay to stop calling him serious.