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May 11, 2014 09:55 AM UTC

You Say You Want a Special Session? Well, You Know...

  • by: Colorado Pols
Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis
Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

As the Denver Post's Anthony Cotton reported Friday:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday said the chances of getting lawmakers to reach a deal on local control of oil and gas development and avoid a costly election-year fight over several ballot measures was "about 50-50."

…The discussion among oil and gas companies, communities and environmentalists revolves around how much control local communities should have in regulating the industry over fracking, oil and gas development, and related concerns.

If a deal is reached, the state legislature, which adjourned Wednesday, would return for a special session meant to create law that reaches a compromise. If the talks fail, the two sides would be headed toward a lengthy, expensive battle that would see numerous ballot initiatives brought before voters across the state.

Negotiations have reportedly continued since then into this weekend, and as of last night there is still reportedly no firm agreement on a legislative deal to enhance local control over oil and gas drilling. At this point, assumptions we can't wholly validate either way seem to be guiding these negotiations. On the one hand, there is a persistent assumption that any oil and gas local control ballot initiative will prove "divisive" among Democrats seeking re-election this year. On the other, there is widespread cynicism among conservationists that these negotiations will produce legislation strong enough to satisfy the concerns of residents worried about "fracking" in their residential communities.

And folks, we've got to be honest–when the "negotiators" spout a bunch of nonsense, it's harder to be optimistic.

"On the one hand, you have an industry that could provide 110,000 jobs, where you don't have to have a college degree for many of them and pays an average salary of $106,000. Do you know how hard it is to find something like that?" Hickenlooper said. "But if you're on the other side, you don't care about any of that if it's your house and you're worried about the health of your children."

Sorry, but this statement from Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is totally ridiculous. Last year, a University of Colorado study found that Colorado employs about 51,000 people in the oil and gas industry–"including those working at gas stations and convenience stores with gas pumps." We're pretty sure there are no filling station attendants anywhere in the world making over $100,000 per year. And even if Colorado were to "ban fracking," which no ballot initiative underway in Colorado today is trying to do, we would still have gas stations.

In our experience, there is no surer way to alienate someone than to demonstrably bullshit them.

From the outset, the oil and gas industry and their supporters have relied on misleading claims and exaggerations like you see above to make the case that they should be able to drill anytime, anywhere, regardless of the land use already in existence at the surface. The historic support the industry enjoyed among the public in the past in Colorado has been eroded–both by false statements from public officials like the example above, and by a perception that state regulatory officials were consistently favoring the industry over local residents. This loss of confidence in state regulators, which has accelerated in recent years under Gov. Hickenlooper, has led directly to bans and moratoria on "fracking" passing in numerous residential cities along the northern Front Range.

And this is what Gov. Hickenlooper and other Democratic fixers for the oil and gas industry need to get through their heads: this isn't about Jared Polis. Last week it was confirmed, as conservationists had long suspected, that the air quality deal celebrated by Hickenlooper and the industry was needed to address emissions that are in truth vastly worse than previously believed. At the same time, the industry prevailed on two Democratic Senators, Mary Hodge and Pat Steadman, to kill even a study of the health effects of oil and gas drilling on Front Range counties in the legislature.

It doesn't matter how many Democratic politicians the industry can co-opt to represent them, how many times they mindlessly repeat the words "fracking ban" when no statewide ban is being proposed, or how many newspapers the industry can buy "sponsored content" sections in to print one-sided whitewash consumed as news. The passage of the "fracking" moratoria bans in Front Range cities, actual votes taken by Colorado citizens, speaks louder than any of that stuff. And–this is key–the industry and their political allies have no answer for them other than "we're going to sue you."

Bottom line: if there's going to be a special session to pass legislation on this issue, it had better be a real solution, one where local communities are meaningfully empowered to protect themselves, and the industry is making real concessions that the public can trust. Because if it's not, there's simply no reason for the voters to not take action themselves this fall. Framed as a issue of the health and safety of our kids and families versus a hazardous industrial practice, this is a political winner for every Democrat who is on the right side of it.

As for the ones who aren't? It's possible they have a political problem that no one can spin.


96 thoughts on “You Say You Want a Special Session? Well, You Know…

  1. On the one hand, you have an industry that could provide 110,000 jobs, where you don't have to have a college degree for many of them and pays an average salary of $106,000

    Funny thing about the "average" – it could be literally true and yet still mean poverty wages for most.  For example, 110,000 jobs times $106,000 is $11.7 billion.  David and Charles Koch each earned about $6 billion last year.  So, you could have 109,998 people who earned $0 from the oil industry, plus the Kochs, and you would get your "average" yearly income of $106,000.

    Not to mention, all of us are paying for the externalities of fossil fuel extraction – environmental damage, climate disruption, tax subsidies, etc.  So, color me unimpressed by this "statistic."


    Bottom line: if there's going to be a special session to pass legislation on this issue, it had better be a real solution, one where local communities are meaningfully empowered to protect themselves, and the industry is making real concessions that the public can trust.

    I am as certain about tomorrows' sunrise happening as I am about the real solution you mention not being a result of any deal made in the Colorado legislature. The O&G lobby OWNS the first floor of the Capitol, and their control over the rest of the building goes effectively unchallenged. There will always be enough Mary Hodges, Wes McKinleys, and Jim Isgars (Industry Democrats) in the state house to give the Republican caucus the necessary votes to let Stan Dempsey and Ken Wonstolen write whatever language might be sent to Frackenlooper. 

    And even if, by some miracle, they send a real solution to the governors' office, it will go no further.

    The only solution is the one being pursued by those who support the local control initiatives. I will issue a word of caution to those who are working on these local control initiatives… DO NOT trust the CAHB (Colorado Association of Homebuilders) if they should start offering their support.  If history is any indication, they will betray you. They did so to the organizers of the ISOR (Initiative for Surface Owners' Rights) movement a few years ago.

    The right of communities to regulate the activities of O&G companies was originally stated in what has come to be called "the Gunnison Case" (Gunnison vs. BDS International, 2003 ) decision by the Colorado Supreme Court. That decision stated that local jurisdictions DO, in fact, have a right to limit or regulate oil and gas drilling in seven seperate and distinct ways. That principle was reaffirmed recently by the Gunnison County District Court.

    There is firm footing for Coloradans  to demand an end to this cozy relationship between state regulators, state legislators, and the O&G industry and to assert their rights as citizens.




  3. A special session, with a hint of a promise of an acceptable solution, is likely to do nothing more than slow down and interfer with initiatives going forward. I don't think a fair solution would come out of the legislature and get signed by the Gov. It would only sabotage the initiatives.

  4. It is beyond disappointing that the Governor would either be this imperceptive and uninformed, or willing to be this deceptive.  I honestly see no other options.  There are not 110,000 oil and gas jobs, as the diary notes.  And an 'average' salary when you include grunt workers and CEOs in the same calculus is simply intentionally misleading, or the province of the grossly misinformed.  Shame.  I am trying to find a reason why not to just undervote this race this fall and this does not provide any reasons. 

    1. One reason:

      Even with his being in the pocket of the Oil & Gasholes, Hickenlooper is still better for this state than anyone the GOP has to run against him. 


      1. Not sure that works for me this time. With Cory, for instance, at least the main stream enviro community won’t be so tepid and conflicted about holding him accountable. Right now I find it a bit embarrassing.

        1. Long day. Not Cory of course whom I am happily voting against for Mr. Udall’s reelection. But TTancredo would be ineffective and no one would have to cozy up to him believing he’s an ally. Same with Gessler. Right now its grassroots enviro groups pushing the issue and the main stream groups are a bit MIA, IMO.

          1. You allude to a real problem in Denver, ct. The enviro groups can't really unload on Hick because of his status as top Democrat in the state. And what's with Commissioner Jones in Boulder?…I think that conflict thing is at play in some questionable votes on her part, as well.

            You will get the same result vis a vis oil and gas with any of them, Hick or the pubs. It is the other issues that will (and should) keep Hick in office…as much as I resent his O&G policies, he is still better for the state than Tanc, the Badger, or BWB.

              1. …And I do understand that the role of an elected official is different than an activist or the head of an NGO.  I have not watched the Boulder BOCC closely, but on a few issues I think some of the 'fracktivists' unfairly maligned Comm. Jones and were incorrect–substantively and strategically.  

                That said, at some point environmentalists have to hold elected officials accountable, and our vote and our voice are the primary tactics we have in that regard.  Until we learn to be effective at that many such officials have no reason (other than core beliefs or general political bean-counting) to listen.  We need to make them listen.  We need to demand local control.  No mealy 'compromise' that is show without teeth–local control is NOT a fracking ban.  Local control IS the compromise (between fractivists and folks like me).  

              1. I wasn't.  I think folks can disagree but that is not my take.  Elise, for instance, was pushing for local control that can be stronger than state law which the fake 'local control' legislation as intially proposed was not.  That, I suspect, is one of the main sticking points.  COGA and their enablers want fake 'local control' to distract, and diffuse.  Real local control must establish state rules as the floor (below which none can be weaker) NOT as the ceiling.  

              2. I have known Elise for many years and have for her the highest personal regard. I am not questioning her credibility, but  heard from a Boulder resident a couple of weeks ago that she made a couple of votes that were out of character. I cannot be more specific (memory lapse), but if any Boulderites have more info, I would like to know more.


          2. Share your pain but come on. Any of the Rs you mention would do way more damage on every important front. Hick is all we've got for the time being and he's still better than any viable alternative. 

                  1. This coming election it really is. Which is not to say we shouldn't pressure our legislators to pressure the Guv, apply whatever pressure we can ourselves and by whatever means possible or try to do better with our next Dem nominee. But in the end, this time around, this election, this is what we've got: Hick or whoever the GOTP chooses. That really is it for 2014. 

      2. Hick is, by the most forgiving standards, at best a GOP moderate in the New England tradition on social issues. But on this issue…economy and the fact we are once again bending over backwards to appease the oil and gas industry, he is completely, 110% bought and sold. Like every time before this, a bust is coming, folks. Fracked wells average about 3-4 years of meaningful production before they are marginally provfitable, or shut down completely. The impact on water supplies in this state is the elephant in the room no one wants to address, and yet it remains THE most important issue in this semi arid state of ours. The only solution on this issue of cities and counties being able to be able to promote human health and the environment is to turn out for the ballot initiatives in the fall that give us back the power. This special session is just a blatant attempt by Hickenlooper and the oil and gas industry to get a deal done in their favor they couldn't do when the bright lights of media attention were on them during the regular session. Call your legislator. Tell them to let this go, and let the citizens speak on this issue in the fall. Or they won't be your legislator anymore. 

        1. This special session is just a blatant attempt by Hickenlooper and the oil and gas industry to get a deal done in their favor they couldn't do when the bright lights of media attention were on them during the regular session.


          Give the Big Black Dog a prize!

        2. Advocate +110. We do need to call our legislators and ask them to just say "No" to Hick's special session, for all the reasons you mentioned. 

           I'm watching "Promised Land". Seems apropos. And I just thought of something alliterative, which makes my little English teacher heart go pit-a-pat.

          Ganja, Gays, Guns….those wedge issues are so 2010-2013. The real wedge issue for 2014 is…..Gasssssss.



            1. I liked most of "Promised Land". I'm not sure how realistic or romanticized the film's portrayals of rural life were. It was a bit didactic, in laying out the economic conflicts of interest.

              I thought the O&G character (Matt Damon)'s sudden reversal and burst of truthiness strained credulity a bit, as well as how well the other O&G operatives were instantly believed by most of the town's residents. 

              1. I remember being a bit disappointed in the film, myself. It really didn't deal with the actual impact of drilling, as I recall. Just a morality play about politics and business ethics.

  5. I think there was a procedural vote some fractivists/purists took to be opposition to their position. The one I am familiar with I think was not. Recently some folks wanted county to assert ‘home rule’ I believe which the BOCC declined to do as it believe s that such would not get it out of the current bind, that under CO law state has primacy. That’s why we need local control with state regs as floor not ceiling. And why a faux compromise won’t cut it.

  6. I think there was a procedural vote some fractivists/purists took to be opposition to their position. The one I am familiar with I think was not. Recently some folks wanted county to assert ‘home rule’ I believe which the BOCC declined to do as it believe s that such would not get it out of the current bind, that under CO law state has primacy. That’s why we need local control with state regs as floor not ceiling. And why a faux compromise won’t cut it.

    1. Right. I recall that when I heard from the Boulderite, he was pissed at Commissioner Jones for a bad vote, I had a hard time believing it. As i say, I have known Elise for a long time…

      Some of the fractivists folks I have talked to are a bit new at this game and they don't really understand the politics of O&G as well as they will after a bit more experience with it. Luckily, they have the might of the population centers that aren't like GJ and Greely, with R leadership feeding greedily at the O&G trough and toeing the COGA line.

      We are seeing a noticable decline in COGAs presence and efforts on the western slope because all the investor dollars have fled and the "shale gas" scam is about to bottom out over here. You just can't be competitive with Piceance gas when the prices are so low. The only thing keeping them operating is the abundance of condensate and other liquids..even some oil. Also there is interest in exploring the Niobrara, but that is not enough to drive the industry here the way it was when the industry was making their play to get a foothold in the Piceance.

      Now that the O&G titans have Mr. Putin stirring up shit in Eastern Europe, the pressure on the U.S. to move up its export effort is growing, based on the flimsiest of fantasies… that we can get LNG to Ukraine in time to make a difference. I am sure T. Boone Pickens now owes one to one of his buddies at Royal/Dutch Shell or BP..

  7. The industry creates 110,000; or creates 51,000 jobs. The CU Leeds School of Business report, from July, 2013, gives both figures. I'm guessing the larger number originates from use of an IMPLAN multiplier, a commonly used procedure in economic studies to determine overall impact of an industry. I did not take time to figure out which is which. You can find the entire study on the COGA web site (www;


    Conservative Head Banger   (AC/DC Rules!)

    1. The web address actually is  .  The "magic keyboard fingers" sometimes don't work in sequence.

      And Duke, thanks for your grammatical correction on the other thread. Are you the same Duke active for many years in GVCA and WCC? 

        1. We have probably met. I've been active in Colorado's conservation community since the early 1980s. I'm happy to trade e-mails and identity revealing if it can be done separate from this web site. 

    2. Hickenlooper said the industry could create 110,000 jobs with an average salary of $106,000 per year. It's complete BS any way you stack it. When the study is counting gas station workers as "oil and gas jobs" and can still only come up with 50,000, 110,000 is a preposterous exaggeration.

      Except in oil and gas boardrooms and the first floor of the Capitol.

      1. I didn't say that I agree with the use of IMPLAN multipliers. What I will say is that if one wants to dispute the 110,000 jobs claim, it's best to rebut the figure using economic data, not just unsupported opinion.


        Conservative Head Banger   (AC/DC Rules!)  (also a JeffCo resident)

        1. Hick's claim has now been rebutted.

          The CU study Pols cited in the original post, cited again in this Post article found only 51,000 jobs including the gas station attendants. The Post article showed only 30,000 actually working in the oil and gas fields. 

          I'll find a link to the original study, or chamber of commerce salary info, and find out what the actual average salaries are – NOT 100K a year, I'm thinking, and much lower if the gas station clerks are actually included.


          1. We've known he's not terribly fussy about intellectual honesty ever since his favorite yummy fracktail turned out not to be what's actually used in fracking actual wells.

  8. Elections Matter—And It’s not just “Zero-Sum” A  thin win also sends a message.  It’s a risk, but life is risky.  But you don’t win by sitting on the sidelines.

    Energy, land use, water–those are not only critically important issues for Colorado, they have been the top issue for Colorado environmental groups for decades.   Now too many Colorado elected officials are singing the COGA Drilling March, fighting local control on land use, even hinting at more dams and more diversions from the Western Slope.  It starts at the top, they say. And as a West Slope conservationist, sometimes you got to call it as you see it. 

    I do not claim to be a 'fracktivist.'   After almost two decades working on this issue, I am no longer standing on the left of it.  I get we need energy, I understand that natural gas heats my own home when confronted with an unpleasant May event.  I accept that oil and gas development will continue, acknowledge there are mineral rights that exist in the minds of judges everywhere.  I see that oil and gas provides what are in many case good-paying-jobs, and offers various revenue streams to state, national, and local coffers. (It also threatens others—if one were being honest, including real estate values, agriculture, outdoor recreation, and those that develop here for quality-of-life (a significant portion of the 45% of the income stream in some Western Slope counties, for instance, which is ‘transfer’ income—retirement, and those that draw income from elsewhere but chose to live in a particular place). 

    Right now the deck is stacked in a big way toward industry, a point I have been arguing through three administrations now—national and state.  But too many elected officials, current and historical—at a critical and crucial time, have sided with those preparing to bury Coloradans legitimately concerned for real, tangible, always industrial and often toxic cause; in tens of millions of dollars of cash and noise, designed primarily to confuse.  So it is hard not to see it as deceptive, this boast of 110,000 jobs that 'average' $100,000 each EVEN WITHOUT A COLLEGE DEGREE!  

    Yee-Haw Kids–Don't bother to go to school be a fracker!  (or work at a Stop-n-Go).

    Voter enthusiasm matters—my own and my crowds’  This year conservationists over here can be excited to vote for Sen. Udall (LNG exports aside, he is a strong and solid voice for Colorado otherwise), Abel Tapia, GMO labeling, and constitutional local control (the last a few times cool).  

    I have always imagined myself an Independent that voted Democratic anyways.  So, yes, color me “undecided.” Its only May, there is time.  But—“Do it or else we elect Tom Tancredo” might not do it this time.  And I am not alone.  That is all…

  9. This is why anyone counting on some Hickenlooper coattails this cycle, is an utter fool . . . 

    . . . downticket D's are gonna' pay the bill for Hick's O&G nonsense and mendacity!

  10. In addition to all the great comments, permit me to add belatedly that I just got the clever Beatles reference in this post's title. Well done, Pols!

      1. He'll get back to you. The Borg can't cope with the concept of opposing viewpoints within a political party, given its creators, and its circuits got fried. It will provide Muddy a (worthless, double-talk) answer once technicians have attended to it.

      2. Overall, Hickenlooper has been a good liberal Dem. But since he is realistic on one issue, energy, the anti-capitalist left still wants to destroy him. They're showing their true colors, anti-prosperity to the core.

  11. Calling on Polster oil and gas industry experts, ct, Duke, Bowman, anyone else with some understanding of the industry: Please help me to understand these studies, and especially the  wage and economic impacts cited in the first one.

    There are two CU School of Business studies, both hosted on the Colorado Oil & Gas (COGA) website.

    1. The first one is titled ASSESSMENT OF OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY 2012 INDUSTRY ECONOMIC AND FISCALCONTRIBUTIONS IN COLORADO . This study is a fairly straightforward look at economics- jobs, wages, taxes, profits, etc.  This is the study Hickenlooper is citing in his "100,000 jobs at $100K average wages" claim.

    • Look at pages 13 and 14, tables 11 12, 13 & 14 of this study. I've attached a screen shot.  This study says that 1.9% of Colorado jobs are in "core" oil and gas, a figure Mr. Bowman has also cited – 29, 254 jobs, the same as the Denver Post article.  "Core jobs" are apparently drilling, extraction, and support activities, from table 11.  To even get to the 51,000 number, half of Hick's number, one has to include everyone working on a pipeline, in a refinery, or in a gas station of any kind.

    • So my question for you Polster O& G experts is, what are the "core jobs" folks making? Is it anywhere near the $100K that Hick claims? I add up the figures for those core jobs (top 2 categories in table 14) and come up with 4887.6 million, or 4.8 billion dollars.  The "extraction and support activities" folks make a helluva lot more than the drillers. Are these the lobbyists, the CEOs, the Kochs, as Ross says?
    • If I divide 4.8876 billion by 29,254 I get a 167,074 average salary, which I'm guessing is more than the average roughneck driller makes. The drill salaries divided by the number of drillers gives a $132,889 salary. Is this a reasonable figure?
    • So if these are reasonable and realistic figures, Hick may be right about these being high paying jobs- but its still less than 2% of all Colorado jobs, and still less than 30,000 jobs total if we only count "core" industry jobs. Far from 100,000 jobs.

    2. The second study hosted on thei Colorado Oil and Gas Association website. is a humdinger. We were wondering where the O&G industry got this obsession with a statewide fracking ban; well, here it is. The CU Leeds school of Business did a study named "Hydraulic Fracturing Ban – the Impact of a Statewide Fracking Ban in Colorado".  The study is in fact a response to the fracturing bans initiated by Longmont, Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins, and Lafayette. It is a political document, in that it is concerned with a statewide ban which hadn't even been proposed yet.

    As such, the very basis of the study seems dishonest to me. In the executive summary, the study admits that there is the "local control" movement, moving towards getting more power into the hands of communities in regulating O&G production, and setbacks initiatives – which still are the only initiatives with a chance of being on the November ballot.

    So where the heck are they getting this "statewide ban" from? It's a "thought experiment", a "hypothetical" as Elliot would say. This is what Hick is proposing policy from? This is what he's recommending a special session to prevent?

    It doesn't seem scientific, nor unbiased, nor professional. It seems to me to be blatantly catering to the "worst case scenario" fears of the oil and gas industry, and to be a "thought experiment" at best, assuming a total statewide ban on fracking beginning in 2015, which NOBODY IS PROPOSING.


    Let's assume that the intent and purpose of the study, is, as I think, catering to the worst fears of the oil and gas industry. This is the study that all of the doomsday projections are coming from.

    It is a fundamentally intellectually dishonest exercise, masquerading as an unbiased research study, and used by an industry apologist, Governor Hickenloopr.

    Probably the first, relatively objective study, wasn't dramatic enough to gin up hysteria about bajillions of lost jobs – so they had to go to plan b, and use an imaginary study, to have the desired fear-mongering effect.

    Leeds School of Business, you should be ashamed. This is pandering, plain and simple.

    1. I will do some research tomorrow by asking some relatives currently working in the patch…I will let you know as soon as I have results of my inquiry.

      1. Great sleuthing, MamaJ.  I'm up to my elbows in hemp seedlings in the greenhouse this morning so I won't be able to get back to this until later today.  You're right, though, these boys love 'em a "thought exercis"e a/k/a/ mental masturbation a/k/a/ nothing that reflects reality to the rest of us.  John Andrews used that exact phrase when describing the secession movment.  To paraphrase:  "So, we got our ass kicked?  Well, you know, it was just a thought exercise"…

        1. Good info and links.  My guess is that that "THE WORLD WILL END IF WE LET NATIVES MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS!!!"  aka 'statewide fracking ban' meme preceded the 'study' and did not 'come from it.'  

          There was never (in my wind) any question where it came from–it came out of the fervid imaginations of scare-mongering PR shysters and the fact that 'local control' was something that focus groups were likely refusing to hate on enough.  Then they needed a study, and low and behold someone was willing to make one up for them.  Its not that uncommon… (It is ironic that people willing to claim that 97% of peer-reviewed climate scieince is false because scieintists want grant money from Al Gore are so willing to grab one economist's outlier, but not surprising) 

          OpEdNews Op Eds 5/10/2014 at 10:37:02

          The Fracking of Academic Integrity in American Colleges (part 3)

          Anyone on the face of it should know that the 100,000 jobs that average 100,000 each EVEN WITH OUT A COLLEGE DEGREE (as per our Governor) is a silly claim, unless industry is saying their payroll in the state is $10B.  

          My guess is there is some apple/oranges going on.  Looking at direct jobs, the pay is higher than average, and for jobs that don't all require a college degree they pay well above what that person might make somewhere else.

          But the various multipliers are problematic–and certainly cannot be subject to the $100,000 'average' wage, which likely comes–one way or another–from that much much smaller number of direct jobs.  

          IOW, its bullshit when applied to indirect jobs, especially when those are inflated to the high end of such jobs based on various ranges and multipliers.  Bullshit times bullshit = more bullshit.  Get use to it.  Industry has tens of millions ready to spread it far and wide.  


      2. I sent out a couple of texts this AM to some people who actually work in the O&G business. I will let you know what I hear about the reality of incomes made by the workers.

    2. "this is pandering, plain and simple….."  Sorry, but the answer is not that easy. I suggest you do some research on IMPLAN multipliers, used in economic research. Basically, a multiplier measures the "ripple effect" circulating through the economy from a certain industry, or industries, and jobs that are created. For example, as noted, getting to the 51,000+ figure would include pipeline workers, gas station attendants, etc. A town like Rifle, for example, is heavily supported by energy industry workers who spend money in the local economy for groceries, car repair, new clothes, lawn & garden tools, household applicances, maybe insurance from agents, etc. The 100,000+ figure cited by the governor sounds realistic when one considers the "ripple effect," but as you and others note, it can be questioned. I neither agree nor disagree with the Governor's figures. My continuing suggestion remains that it is necessary to rebut economic figures with economic figures, not with unsubstantiated opinion.


      Conservative Head Banger  (AC/DC Rules!)

      1. CHB is certainly right that one can't simply judge impact based on the direct effects of a change in an industry, there are certainly follow on effects, or "multipliers" that are experienced outside the immediate industry by suppliers (indirect effects) who will lay off or not hire due to decreased demand (you might think of truck repair shops or restaurants patronized by oil folks or the local Chief Fracking Parts Store) as well as induced effects, which are changes in spending, usually downward. by folks negatively (or positively) affected.  These are all real, although they are subject to bad data or manipulation.

        Having said that, there are some fundamental problems with the CU study referenced.  First, and most obvious, it models a fracking ban across the state.  Even in the anti-fracking side's most lurid wet dream, there's no chance of that happening.  This in itself is enough to discount the model as useful for understanding the impact of a more piecemeal local control model of managing fracking.  It's the equivalent of saying that a study on banning smoking anywhere in the state, including on private property, is a good model for understanding the effects of a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.  Here’s one major difference– the industry still sells cigarettes or, in other words, the fracking still occurs, just with some potential, not actual, limits.

        Another problem, although not unique to this study, and something that is a source of Hulk-like rage for me, is the use of an “average wage.”  Because it is not otherwise qualified, we must assume that this is the arithmetic mean wage, or the wage that you get by taking the compensation pot and dividing by employees.  This is a bullshit figure and should never be used in any meaningful study of compensation because wages are so heavily skewed.  The median wage is always the better number, showing the wage which 50% make less than and 50% more than.  In some instances, where wages pile up in low and high ranges, modal wage ranges can be even better.  As an example, the SSA’s net compensation numbers for 2012 show an “average” wage of $42,498.21, but a median wage of $27,519.10– 35% lower.

        1. tl;dr  Someone said we might expect an infestation of lizards and had CU model the effect of Godzilla dropping by.  It just doesn't bear any relation to the question at hand.

      2. CH Banger,

        So since you dislike unsubstantiated opinion, I'm guessing that you would not approve of the CU Study: "Hydraulic Fracturing Ban", (March 2014), which, in its "Data and Assumptions" section on page 15, states:


        As of February 2014, hydraulic fracturing is still permissible in Colorado.

        According to the Colorado Oil Gas Association, approximately 95% of well activity includes hydraulic fracturing.

        Five jurisdictions have voted to either ban or temporarily halt new activity. However, conjecture suggests that a statewide

        ballot issue is likely in November 2014.

        So basically the entire 33 page study is based on a false premise, someone's conjecture, which suggested that a statewide ballot issue to ban fracking would happen. 


        In your opinion, is this good scholarship? Should our governor be citing it to invalidate the results of five municipal elections? Should our governor be using this study to promote a special session of the legislature to prevent "local control" from coming up for a vote?


        The earlier (July 2013) study, also from the Leeds School of Business, cited economic sources, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Census Bureau, US Geological Survey. This study found only 29,000 jobs. Not 51,000. Not 110,000.


        The people in the "non-core" jobs make less money – on the bright side, they will still have jobs at their gas stations or refineries or lobbying and PR firms, regardless of what voters decide on local control.  Existing wells will also continue to produce until they run dry, so those "core" jobs are not going anywhere in the immediate future, either.  


        All local control will do is put the brakes on the fracking expansion spree – force the industry to court communities, abide by best practices and environmental regulations, or do business elsewhere. 

        1. I did not read the second study. Read only the parts of the one study with the reference to amounts of jobs. As an aside, you seem reluctant to research the issue of multipliers. But perhaps an assist…….

          Check out Colorado County Business Patterns @

          CBP gives an industry by industry breakdown; with number of establishments and number of jobs. It appears to have data at least through 2011. I haven't reviewed CBP for a while. One shortfall is that it may not cover the combined industry of outdoor recreation very well. 



          1. So you didn't read the second study. Afraid to find out that they won't meet your standard of not relying on "unstantiated opinion"? I read the first page of the CBP – it wasn't helpful in understanding multipliers. 

            The first study, more reliable in my opinion since it does use BLS stats, does mention that it uses "IMPLAN" multipliers. This is in the Methodology section on p. 2. However, the sections on O&G jobs, which I cited, do not use multipliers. They use the plain old data from the census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The first CU study is also on CRED (Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development), the lobbying and public information arm of the oil and gas industry. 

            Why do you think that Hickenlooper keeps pounding away at "110,000" jobs, when the study he references can only come up with 29,254 oil and gas jobs? 

            What's perhaps more interesting is that Hickenlooper also does not mention any "multipliers".  He is apparently pulling numbers more or less out of thin air, and he has been doing that for quite some time. I think that you should look into this, as someone who is obviously more expert in the field of labor and economic statistics than I am. 

            Surely you would want your governor to cite reliable sources. You would not want him to rely on what a conjecture suggests, would you?

            1. My dear, about the only thing I'm afraid of is being run over on a trail by an out-of-control mountain biker. I'm not personally all that interested in the whole fracking issue and decline to spend the time getting into it–my "environmental time" goes to things like outdoor recreation; keeping OHVs under control; wilderness campaigns; etc. What caught my eye here were the economic studies & the questions about the jobs figures. Should local jurisdictions have the ability to regulate or control fracking? Maybe, but then industry has to work with a patchwork of regulations.

              "Why do I think Hickenlooper keeps pounding away……" Is it really an issue; when considering the potential alternative after election day in Nov.? Nothing is ever a foregone conclusion in politics. But it appears that Hick will be re-elected, no matter which of the "three stooges" gets the nomination. Too bad that good Republicans; like Rob Witwer; aren't available when they're needed.


              CHB  (AC/DC Rules!)

        2. mama et al,

          Thanks for your serious investigation of this. I recall that when I first read the Leed School report, the "conjecture" comment jumped out at me – it really negated any level of academic rigor that the CU logo on the cover page might have contributed.

          Some of you may recall that a group of motivated, inquisitive, and well-spoken (and also age-suitably starry-eyed and naive) group of teens under the lable of WildEarth Guardians petitioned the COGCC (pdf) to ban fracking. Among the several arguments against the petition, submitted by the industry apolgists (aka COGA), was C. Petitioner's reliance on popular media and unscientific sources (pdf, p. 7). In a case of unselfconscious irony, the COGA statement noted that "Of the 308 footnotes contained in the [WildEarth Guardian's] Petition, 52 are references to popular media." The savvy reader will have already calculated that this represents 16.8% of the footnotes. 

          If a reader as savvy as you (or even as savvy as the COGA statement's author) evaluated the 43 documents listed in the Bibliography of the Leed School [non-peer-reviewed] report, you would find there were 8 sources from the popular media and 5 from O&G industry-associated blogs. This represents 30.2% of an already notably weak bibliography. Based on the industry's documented criteria of what can be considered adequate grounding in "sound scientific principles," this Leed School report does not measure up. Why the governor, or anyone, refers to this report, is not because of the objective strength or rigor of the report. 

          (Just for completeness' sake, 19 documents in the bibliography are to sources of raw data, e.g., Ballotpedia, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Energy Information Administration. Two of the documents were authored by the current authors. One refers to some email correspondence. I was unable to easily categorize 8 of the documents in the bibliography. Thus, at best, 18.6% of the bibliography – the 8 uncategorized docs – contains references providing "sound scientific principles" that might ground or support the assumptions, methods, and conclusions of this report.) I would not base the governance of the Great State of Colorado on such a weak report. YMMV

          I certainly would never link my name to such a report.

          There are other weaknesses typical of ideologically-biased economic "analyses" of this or that regulatory horror, but this is enough for a bedtime summary.

              1. I haven't decided yet…it will be SRO and I may opt out to allow more room for those who actually READ the Daily Sentinel. I don't….

          1. Great work, again, MamaJ.  This is akin to the Van Halen Principle in reverse. 

            In 1982, any venue that booked Van Halen had to read and sign a seemingly endless contract laying out the band's needs. A line from page 40 of the contract has long ago passed into lore: M&M's, it says. "(WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES)."

            Van Halen's brown M&M's are synonymous with rock-star excess. But the band didn't care about brown M&M's. They cared about knowing whether the venue had carefully read the contract. They were a pioneer in bringing arena-like performances to smaller cities. That meant huge, hot lights; insanely heavy equipment; thick cables snaking across the stage. If something went wrong, it could go very wrong.

            Hence the brown M&M's. "If I came backstage and I saw brown M&M's on the catering table, it guaranteed the promoter had not read the contract rider, and we had to do a serious line check," David Lee Roth later explained.

            Apparently CU-LEEDS, the industry and the Governor banked on no one actually reading the document and connecting the dots (or lack thereof).

            It's a bit of an addendum to the Van Halen Principletales of someone doing something unbelievably stupid or selfish or irrational are often told because they can help someone else get rich or get elected.

            1. You're right, I think, that the Governor, CRED, COGA, the Denver Post, the Denver Business Journal, and others citing the CU Leeds studies are counting on no one actually reading them. That's shows how low expectations are for the general voting and reading public.

              There's plenty in both studies that I don't understand well myself, but the jobs data in the first study is pretty straightforward, being based on actual 2012 data. This data does not support the claims that the Governor is making. 

              The second study, is based on a false premise of a statewide fracking ban, so nobody should take anything in it seriously. I think that this study, the "Hydraulic Fracturing Ban" study, is where Hick is getting the 110,000 jobs figure from, because this "conjecture suggests" study is, naturally, much more dire in consequence than the real-world data cited by the earlier study.

              Still no 110,000 jobs  with $104K salaries for high school graduates in it, either. Sorry, Hick.

          2. I've always felt that it's nearly criminal that any so-called "institution of higher learning" anywhere in this country doesn't have some kind of requires review mechanism for any "scholastic papers" issued using its name.  Similarly, any such bogus "research" that is issued in an accredited institutions name, ought to be done so at some kind if accreditation risk or penalty. 

            Leave the propograndizing to the slimy Independence Institutes and their ilk!!

            1. I've found that CU business school is pretty heavily compromised, between Pres Bruce Benson and his ties to the oil and gas industry, and furniture mogul Jake Jabs, donating $10 million for an endowed business "entrepeneurship" program this year.

              Jabs was the initial donor for the Western Partnership, now the American Partnership, linked to a meth house in Montana. Phoenix Rising had some posts on Jabs in 2012. I don't have time for the diaries I've already started, but if someone wants to follow up on how "liberal" CU is being academically compromised at its roots by corporate interests, I can post links.

              1. I think there are a number of misleading things in the 100k at $100k number, one being supporting that number and the use of various multipliers.  For instance a water hauler’s work might double due to oil and gas, which is only .5 jobs not the entire hauler.  There are many ways to quantify things, and different ways to justify the rosier multiplier scenarios over the milder ones.  Despite some wishing to pretend otherwise, Economics is not a science—it’s a tool of analytics and quality and descriptions of data going in matter, as do the way they are handled before coming out chewed up into a report. 

                Another large mistake that I already pointed out; there is no way the math supports that number of jobs averaging that amount of money.  

                There are fundamental problems with describing wage in a big-pool average anyhow, and it usually seems to the work of corporate bullshitters wanting to have the boss' immense wealth 'trickle down' if only in statistics.  A median would be a better measure—or at least provide a more complete picture along with the mean.  But those pushing this don’t really want that now, do they?  And how could they, since the majority of the numbers are figments or a formula, direct jobs multiplied by some invented factor.   What do those invented jobs pay? Who knows, but probably nowhere close to $100k annually EVEN WITHOUT A COLLEGE DEGREE!

                So applying that ‘average’ to the indirect jobs that are derived from whatever, likely questionable, multiplier—regardless of whatever term-of-art you want to apply to it—raises it, again from mere bullshit to bullshit2.  (BULLSHIT * BULLSHIT = MORE BULLSHIT). 

                1. I think you've identified a key problem with use of multipliers. How much of one of the "supported" jobs is actually attributable to a given industry. For example, does an accountant owe his or her livlihood exclusively to clients who work in a given industry? Or does that accountant obtain clients from a variety of sources.

                  Remembering Black Sunday in 1982; when Exxon "pulled the plug" on "the siren song" of oil shale; Grand Junction became a near ghost town according to some sources. But the local economy still had a lot going for it and eventually recovered.

                  My current question is this. With all the negative comments about the Governor and his reliance on what are thought to be dubious studies, who is going to write the op-ed and when?


                  Conservative Head Banger  (AC/DC Rules!)

            2. D.G.D.:  my experience with economic studies of this nature; done in academia; is that they usually do get some sort of peer review before being released for public review/consumption. An example is a study done in the late 2000s, and perhaps recently updated, showing the economic value of recreation on 14,000' peaks. That study was done by CSU's Department of Agriculture & Resource Economics, and did receive extensive peer review.

              In contrast, studies from recent times, trying to show the economic value of off-highway vehicle recreation in Colorado, were done by consultants and apparently did not receive peer review. Which accounts for a number of errors in those studies.

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