What’s in Our Air? Colorado Chooses Ignorance

( – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

GOOD NEWS:

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), together with the Garfield County Department of Public Health and the Colorado School of Public Health submitted a research proposal to the EPA program on Community-Scale Air Toxics Ambient Monitoring.

The CDPHE (& Friends) proposal was submitted in May 2011 and had a goal of bringing approximately $850,000 to bear on the questions of potential impacts of oil and gas development on air quality, and subsequent impacts on the health and welfare of people in the communities in and surrounding development areas in western Colorado.

This, according to two reports in the Glenwood Post Independent last week: PI Sep 4 and PI Sep 9.

The EPA was scheduled to announce who had won grant awards under this competition by mid-August (I gleaned this from the “Award Notices” on p. 21 in the linked document above).

But there has been a “slight” delay.

BAD NEWS:

(From the Post Independent reports.)

An application for federal funds to study air quality in the Battlement Mesa area has been pulled by the state health department, an official at the [CDPHE] confirmed this week. –PI Sep 4

OK, so it’s not a slight delay. It’s an indefinite hold. It’s dead.

It appears that CDPHE’s partners (Garfield Cty and the Sch. Of Public Health) as well as the residents of Garfield County were completely unaware that the state had gotten cold feet until after the application was withdrawn.

… some area residents are questioning the decision and wondering what it means for future air quality studies in the county. –PI Sep 9

So, who got to state officials and convinced them that the people of western Colorado are best served by ignorance of the quality of their air? Do you need a hint?

Speaking of the possibility of future grant applications and efforts to find money for air quality studies, [GarCo employee] said the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association “has some ideas as to how we might move forward.” –PI Sep 4

UGLY NEWS:

If the hint wasn’t sufficient, how about I name some names?

With the grant now scuttled, a trade association representative for the gas industry says drillers operating in the area are committed to exploring other options for determining the air quality effects of its activities.

“Our membership supports filling the data gaps identified in the application related to air quality,” said David Ludlam, director of the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA). “We’re committed to working with Garfield County and the state to get there from here.” [emphasis added] –PI Sep 9

Surprised? This is the same organization that used to serve as Kathy Hall’s soapbox about the quality of frac fluids (CO Indep, Oct 20, 2009).

EVIL NEWS:

Why was the oil and gas industry opposed to this study? Because it might have had an objective of doing something good for real people?

Ludlam conceded that among gas drillers in Garfield County, “there was an unspoken uncomfortability” with the School of Public Health approach, which he described as being “focused on interpreting data for its public health implications.” [emphasis added] –PI Sep 9

WTF? Why else would the EPA, the state, and the county (or any health officials for that matter), spend time, money, and effort on collecting and analyzing air samples if there wasn’t a concern about the public health implications?

Ludlam, and perhaps others in the industry (and apparently some in state and county government), appear to think that any measurement of air quality should be strictly to spice up the conversation during breaks at the water cooler. Perhaps any data eventually collected could be printed on napkins for COGA’s next annual meeting? Heaven forbid someone evaluate the data as it concerns public health and safety or even plan data collection with the express prior purpose of testing hypotheses (in other words, there’s little support for anyone conducting actual Science in western Colorado).

Really. This is exactly what Ludlam has intimated:

Under the Western Slope COGA proposal [potential researchers] will be asked to “just collect the data,” Ludlam said. [emphasis added] –PI Sep 9

“Collecting data” is NOT science. Testing hypotheses is what doing science is all about. Merely “collecting data” does nothing to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of people.

MORE NEWS:

There’s more to this story. What we know so far is that somebody was able influence members of our state government and convince them to stop a study that could have benefited the people of Colorado. One (or several) people in our state government succumbed to this pressure. Rather than pursue a study that they officially sanctioned when they submitted it to the EPA competition in May, our state government suddenly prefers ignorance. (Well, that, and maybe some re-election support?)

Our state government is no longer supporting a competitively funded, peer-reviewed, scientific study. But, surprise surprise, the oil and gas industry is willing to maybe somewhat kind of support a non-peer reviewed proposal to “collect” a limited amount of “data.”

… local drillers could work with the Colorado State University School of Atmospheric Studies or another team on a survey. Ludlum emphasized a study would “just collect the data,” not interpret it. [emphasis added] –9News

This means a scientific study will now not take place, at least for several more years. This also means that the oil and gas industry, with cooperation of state and county government officials, have decided that ignorance is better than knowledge, at least for the people who live on in western Colorado. (On a more mundane note, it now means that over 3/4 of a million dollars for air quality research will be spent somewhere else, rather than in Colorado.)

GOT NEWS?

I plead for John Colson at the Post Independent to keep digging. Additionally, I beg others in the media (including the esteemed blog-o-sphere) and my fellow citizens of Colorado, please ask pointed questions of our elected officials until we learn just what took place behind closed doors.

Choose knowledge. Your life might depend on it.

[Full disclosure: I had no role in the development of this air quality proposal at any time in the past, present, or future. I have no financial stake in the proposed study going forward. I have never participated in measuring air quality. I do, however, breathe air.]

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Looking for true love tonight? CO or DC?

(Not sure if this is really funny or kinda sick. Or both. But it is Valentine’s day in Colorado. – promoted by MADCO)

Looking for true love this Valentine’s day, but you fear that if you reveal how dirty you like to get, you might not get past “Hello” not to mention “Drill, baby, drill?”

Well, for politicians and lobbyists from Colorado to Alaska to Oklahoma to DC, there’s Polluter Harmony.

This story of how Jeff hooked up with Lisa brought a tear to my eye:

Not yet convinced? Check out the beautiful stories of Charles & Blanche, Rex & Bob, Tim & Fred, and the profiles of some great dirt lovers like “Bar Back” Boehner and “Smokin’ Salmon” Murkowski!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all (curmudgeons included)!

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Corporate Enforced Denial

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATED: Global temperature graph now includes preliminary 11-month data from 2010 and a graph of solar output for the last decade.

(as reported by Media Matters who has been reporting on their acquisition of leaked emails from the goons at Fox)

Last year Fox News [sic] reported on the climate talks in Copenhagen. For a brief segment they reported on the factual conclusions from scientists, including the fact that the decade 2000-2009 was the warmest on record.

So far, so good, right?

No. No. NO.

Apparently, reporting facts and letting you decide conflicts with actual corporate policy.

Video and email below.

So here is the brief segment, from Dec. 8, 2009, in which a Faux News correspondent reports a few facts:

Fifteen minutes after airing this segment (indeed, less than 15 minutes later!), Management Goon Bill Sammon sent out this email:

From: Sammon, Bill

To: 169 SPECIAL REPORT; 036 FOX.WHU; 054 FNSunday; 030 Root (FoxNews.Com); 050 Senior Producers; 051 Producers; 069 Politics; 005 Washington

Cc: Clemente, Michael; Stack, John; Wallace, Jay; Smith, Sean

Sent: Tue Dec 08 12:49:51 2009

Subject: Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data…

…we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

Brilliant! Here’s the babelfish reverse Hebrew via Mandarin Chinese translation of this into plain English:

Don’t report the findings of 99% of the active climate researchers without “qualifying” it by mentioning the CSB* of a few public relations whores in the employ of the Koch brothers and Exxon-Mobil. The task at Faux News is to manufacture controversy where no scientific controversy exists. There’s profits to be had. It’s also one of the few things we are actually quite skilled at, after all.

It’s warming. Get used to it.



(Global surface air temperature anomalies relative to 1951-1980 mean for (a) annual and 5-year running means, and (b) 60-month and 132-month running means. In (a) the 2010 point is a preliminary 11-month anomaly. Green vertical bars are two-standard-deviation error estimates.  Hansen et al. Dec. 13, 2010)

Furthermore, the warmest decade in recorded history (2000-2009) occurred during a declining trend in solar activity. Are you paying attention, deniers? Just think what we’re in for by 2013 if solar activity is the driver behind recent observed warming!

As also noted in this and other Media Matters reports, it is apparently OK to state a verifiable lie about climate scientists on Fox News [sic] without providing any factual evidence or counterpoint.

But reporting facts is verboten?

We are so fucked by media corporations and their Kochsucking minions.

(1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Breathe 1 2 3 4 5 6 7  Breathe 1 2 3 4 Breathe …)

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I’m going to go outside and talk to a wall.

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*CSB or caterwauling shit blizzard: usually reserved to describe a public outburst from soon-to-be-former Sen. Josh Penry, but my hacked version of babelfish deemed it appropriate here.

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Drill Your Cake. And Eat It, Too.

(…and this kids is what happens with a blowout…   – promoted by ClubTwitty)

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Or … when astro-turfing leaves a bad taste in your mouth, try putting (green) icing on it.

EnCana Corporation is a corporate “person” with North American headquarters in Alberta, Canada. They are big. A new headquarters (“The Bow”) is under construction in Calgary. There are conflicting accounts, but when complete, “The Bow” will be among the tallest buildings in Canada (and may be the tallest).

Anyway, I digress … there’s a video I’d like you to watch …

The reason you should care about what this corporation does to promote itself is that EnCana Corp, and a subsidiary, EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc, is among the largest producers of natural gas in North America and in Colorado. In addition to maintaining over 5,000 wells in Garfield, Rio Blanco, and Mesa Counties (their principle area of operation in Colorado), EnCana has nearly 1,400 wells in Weld County and approximately 220 wells in Boulder, Broomfield, and Adams Counties. (as per the COGCC/COGIS database)

EnCana wants you to feel safe about hydraulic fracturing (aka, “frac’ing” or “fracking,” a method that requires forcing a chemical stew under high pressure into geologic formations with tightly held methane in order to fracture the rock and allow the gaseous commodity to be released and recovered). To this end, EnCana provides a short document to explain hydraulic fracturing that is sufficiently factual (even though the language has been chosen to manipulate the reader – pdf available here). EnCana also provids a good video explanation here, but wait to view that until after you’ve viewed the video below.

Anyway, when I read or view something like the above resources, I can understand that a corporation is trying to influence my opinion of them, but that they consider me an intelligent adult and provide sufficient detail and complexity that I feel I have learned something useful to me.

So far, so good.

EnCana, apparently dissatisfied with these “facty” explanations of hydraulic fracturing, has now produced something completely different. Something wholly insulting.

For the life of me, I can not figure out why any business would produce and promote something like this:

OK, the obvious. These kids are bored. Their questions (ignore the subtitles) are all along the lines of “can we eat those cupcakes now?” Look at where their eyes are focused.

But seriously, what the hell is going on here? This lecture is completely over the heads of these kids. Is EnCana conducting focus group testing of a new approach? Are they testing to see whether they have dumbed down the information sufficiently so that a typical “keep government hands off my Medicaid funded electric cart” tea partier can understand?

Can those of you with marketing experience help me to understand why this video exists?

Frankly I think EnCana has completely failed. I am insulted. More seriously, I find myself questioning the competence of those managing this corporation. EnCana promotes this video and still wants me to feel that they are not going to harm my drinking water? That they won’t poison the air I breathe? That they will reclaim the landscapes they’ve disturbed? This video leaves me thinking that they consider me and my concerns to be little more than a joke.

I’ll leave you with three questions that still nag me:

Why the pig?

Sprinkles? Really?

Can we eat the cupcakes now?

(h/t DeSmog Blog)

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BREAKING: Ali Hassan, the one & only, switches parties

Colorado GOP loses Hasan

Prominent Muslim political figure fed up with party bigotry

Muhammad Ali Hasan, a member of the wealthy and influential Colorado Republican Hasan family and a past state House and treasurer candidate, said he is switching parties. Speaking at the University of Colorado-Boulder on his experience growing up Muslim in the American West and later in conversation with the Colorado Independent, Hasan said he is ending his affiliation with the party for the bigotry he believes has shaped Republican politics over the last year.

As reported in The Colorado Independent

Welcome, Ali.

(I hope you don’t get too frustrated with Democratic spinelessness too quickly.)

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From the 27th Book of Arrogance

(Uh… – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Somebody mentioned Greeley and the “Tenth Amendment Center?”



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The Fourth Tea Party (posted at the Tenth Amendment Center)

Perhaps you have wondered why you have grown more concerned about what is happening with the United States. … Could it be that you have heard God’s voice, urging you to reclaim America? …


Many American citizens treat the current “Tea Party Movement” as a recent innovation, or a novel idea that will disappear in the future.


Today, we are actually a part of the fourth tea party! [emphasis added]

What, you ask, were the first three tea parties? You know the drill – look below the fold …

I apologize for not contributing much commentary for this diary, but if you follow the link and read the full “history” of the Four Tea Parties, I think you will appreciate why I have been left speechless.

Here we go:

The First Tea Party

The reign of Solomon had increased the burdens of government upon the people.  They had paid higher taxes, and many had been pressed into governmental service, working on various programs (building structures, serving in the ever-larger military force, or serving in Solomon’s court).  Now, they were struggling.

The Second Tea Party

The second tea party is a very unique event that is recorded in the gospels of Scripture

You read that right. Jesus was a tea partier!

The Third Tea Party

As the descendents of the Israelite tribes migrated to the colonies, they brought with them a sense of justice that pervaded all areas of life, including the financial realm.  Those “common farmers” were well-versed in literature, especially the Holy Bible and Blackstone’s Commentaries on English Common Law.

You’re familiar with the “3rd TP” from your American History classes. But you may not be familiar with this interpretation. Well, most of you won’t be.

The Fourth Tea Party

aka “The second coming of Christ”

Today, we have yet another tea party movement among us.  On February 19, 2009 Rick Santelli stood on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

I believe the current Tea Party movement is ordained by God.

Who could come up with such an elaborate and arrogant scenario? Turns out, he’s one of ours …

Steven Grant pastors Destiny Christian Center in Greeley, Colorado.

 

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The Kochtopus Has You Pwnd!

Subtitle: You’re not an activist in the tea party wing of the Republican Party. You are a pawn of the Kochtopus!

Or: “This is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.” *

Or even: Looks like somebody needs a refresher.



What is the Kochtopus? Defined and coined and even despised by some libertarians.

If you recall, billionaire anarcho-libertarian oil tycoon David Koch (of Koch Industries, AKA “The biggest company you’ve never heard of”, AKA one of the top 10 toxic air polluters in the world), while taking credit for starting and funding the front group Americans For Prosperity, has denied that he is in anyway connected to the tea party wing of the Republican Party. Indeed, recently he told New York magazine:

“I’ve never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.” [emphasis added]

You’re surprised that this claim is a lie, right?

No? Well what if I told you that back in April the Kochs also claimed:

“… no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch Foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.” (see video below)

OK, no more jokes. You’re right. Not only are these claims false (guffaw, more feigned surprise), but there is video evidence (below) that he was briefed about his funding of tea parties at an AFP convention in Virginia on October 3, 2010. Enthusiastic minions from 25 state chapters breathlessly informed Koch of their astro-turfing on his behalf.

“… we helped organize huge tea parties all throughout [California] …” (0:48)

“… we have led the largest tea party in the state …” (1:05)

“… the largest tax day tea party in the nation [in Georgia] …” (1:08)

“… we’ve held 29 tea parties …” (1:13)

“… we’ve organized dozens of tea parties …” (1:17)

“… we had over 9,000 Colorado activists attend the Patients First bus tour …” (1:38)

“… Mr. Chairman, our grassroots efforts are engaged …” (2:27)

Etc.

[Times indicate locations for these passages found in the video below.]

When informed of all this, what was David Koch’s response? He clapped.

“This is a phenomenal success, in my judgment.” (1:20)

So you think you’re going to change the world with those tea bags stapled to your hat?

Pwnd!

Not this year. You are just being used by the paranoid sons of the paranoid Fred Koch to ensure that the Kochtopus can continue thriving on government subsidies while poisoning your air. If this is what gets your rocks off, well ok, go nuts (pun only partially unintended).

If you want to make the world safe for the Kochtopus, then go ahead and staple another teabag to your cap. If, on the other hand, you want to work towards making America a better place for real people, you can start by thinking for yourself. Learn who is playing you since you’ve willingly allowed yourself to be a sucker. Work to level the playing field so that you become less of a sucker. At the same time, you’ll become more attractive to members of the opposite sex.

Here’s the promised video. Note the numerous signs and t-shirts with Americans For Prosperity emblazoned thereon. Note the bus. Note how the earnest people at the end of the clip sound much like the shills that frequent CO Pols.

This video segment is from the an upcoming documentary (Astro) Turf Wars: How Corporate America Faked a Grassroots Revolution.

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*The quote in the alternate subtitle is from David Axelrod, as reported by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker.

h/t DeSmogBlog

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Has anyone heard from DavidThi808?

He hasn’t made a comment on CO Pols since early early Monday.

Does anybody know where he lives? Anywhere near the fire?

If you know how to contact him, check back with us and reassure us that he and his family are ok. Thanks.

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BJWilson/Mock Turtle – Separated at Birth?

The Beej & the Mock Turtle: Siblings? Sockpuppet? Or Cowinkydink?

(Forgotten your Mock Turtle history?)



Portrait of Mock Turtle as a Young Beej

The video evidence (and we all know that this is all that is necessary to prove any point)

and a description of several similarities are provided below the fold. It’s amazing, I tell you. Truly amazing.

As promised, here’s the incriminating video evidence:

That’s our Beej!

(Don’t be distracted by the superficial resemblance to Ringo Starr — listen to the words.)

Still need convincing? More shocking similarities below:

In case you missed them in the video, I’ve enumerated a few of the key similarities:

1a. The Beej’s “fears for our nation” are all part of his imagination.

1b. The Mock Turtle’s fears are “all his morbid imagination” according to Gryphon (@ 0:40).

2. Both the Beej and the Mock Turtle (@ 1:20) tout their “educations”  in “Reeling and Writhing” and emphasize their knowledge of the “different branches of arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”

3a. The Beej seldom makes sense.

3b. The Mock Turtle sings (@ 2:30) “There’s far too much accurate communication and if it continues, I fear for the nation” and “Nonsense, nonsense, that’s what we’re terribly short of.”

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Prior to this exclusive Colorado Pols exposé, the Mock Turtle was most famously celebrated in “Musings on Mock Turtles” by Rep. Scott McInnis. Get your free copy ($300,000 value) here.

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Soup, anyone? (embedding disabled)

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So there you have it. If this is the last you ever hear from ardy39, you’ll know the powers that be (aka The Dead Govs) have banned my ass because I am right and The Beej is, or is closely related to, the Mock Turtle (aka “Mock”).


BTW, if the tea party Republicans are looking for a theme song, I nominate “Nonsense.” It completely captures the “thought” “processes” demonstrated by The Beej wing of the tea party R’s. For a version with better audio quality, try this one:

Have at it, Polsters.

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Colorado Rules Cause Drilling Slowdown (and spills and thrills)

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Well, do you have a better explanation for this?

“EnCana has chosen to take a wait and see approach,” said Doug Hock, director of community and public relations for EnCana. “We remain active in the state and plan to drill an exploratory well on our state leased acreage in the near future. Until the results of this can be evaluated, however, we’ve made a decision to forgo further leasing of private land.”

So, what do you tree-hugging-American-job-hating-libruls have to say in your defense now?

And if that wasn’t enough, perhaps this next will convince you …

“At this point, we’re just stopping any efforts from going forward to acquire more private minerals,” Hock said. “We have a large acreage position on state land and we are still interested in pursing assets in Michigan.”

See! So there! Now all you naysayers are just going to have to admit it. Ritter’s Rules are responsible for the slowdown in activity in …  Where? … Michigan? … Really? … Oh, never mind.

“Taking a step back is just a business decision,” [said Hock.]

Wait a minute. Slowing down is “just a business decision” in Michigan, but a slowdown in Colorado is because of the most onerous rules ever even considered by modern man? Come on EnCana, which is it?

Well, if you’re interested in the rest of the story about this Ritter-induced tragedy in Michigan (and Petoskey Exploration LLC, a Colorado based company and branch of EnCana) you can find the story here.

(In case you are wondering, Michigan has exactly zero rigs actively drilling in the state (as of July 23, according to Baker-Hughes). This is a decline of 100% from a high of 2 in 2008. In contrast, the active rig count in Colorado has increased by 13% since the new rules became effective and increased 42% since the low point was reached in October 2009.)

======================================================================

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Or, if you prefer your bad news closer to home, you can read here about the sleuthing COGCC staff did to identify Williams as the source for the poisoning of Ned Prather’s water well. I recommend reading this “AOC” – these people (COGCC staff) are working for you and me. They’ve earned my respect and admiration with this fine piece of detective work.

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Elsewhere in Michigan, and totally unrelated to oil and gas activity, of course, are reports of

The largest oil leak ever in the state of Michigan



Oil flows over Ceresco dam (Photo by Todd Heywood)

Here are a few highlights from this story:

Patrick Daniels, president and CEO of Enbridge, says 19,000 barrels, or about 789,000 gallons, of oil was released.

[EPA] estimates just under one million gallons of crude oil was sent spewing into Talmadge Creek and then into the Kalamazoo River.

… the oil slick has reached 16 miles down the river…

A lingering question remains about the timing of the leak due to conflicts between statements made by the company and local officials.

… 9:30 a.m. CST (10:30 a.m. Michigan time) on Monday …

… knew about the release at 9:25 p.m. on Sunday night …

… alerted to the incident at 12:30 a.m. July 26, a full 8 hours before …

… not the first time …

Dead fish are washing up on the shore of the creek and geese are found scattered throughout the area covered in oil.

It’s almost starting to seem commonplace, isn’t it?

Ho hum, just another spill.

Are these three pieces of additional evidence that there is something systemically wrong?

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[This diary was completed without using any quotes from or making any links to the Denver Past.]

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Maes: What You Don’t Know Profits Me

(Another example of how “running government like a business” just isn’t a broad-brush solution.   – promoted by Colorado Pols)

As reported in today’s Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Dan Maes thinks that consumers/citizens/taxpayers should be kept in the dark about what they are paying for.

“If I itemize it separately, it’s an annoyance,” [Dan Maes] added. “People say, ‘Why am I paying this additional fee?’ They’re aware of it, they’re informed of it, and it concerns them. If they roll it into the cost, nobody sees the extra cost, and they’re less likely to express an opinion one way or the other about it.”

To McInnis’ credit, he staked out the sensible middle on this issue.

The former U.S. congressman from the 3rd Congressional District said consumers deserve to know what they’re paying for, particularly when it comes to government services and public utilities.

Doing anything different is tantamount to trying to fool them, he said

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Good for you, Scoot.

But let’s get back to Dangerous Dan, Dean de Deception:

Maes said it isn’t a question of trying to fool consumers or keeping them in the dark about exactly what they’re financing.

Rather, it’s about keeping complaints to a minimum, said the former chief executive officer of a credit reporting business, Amaesing Credit Solutions.

See, because if you don’t know what you are paying for, you won’t complain, right?

Talk about making solid arguments for why businessmen should NOT be in charge of government:

“It’s not about ignorance. It’s about supplying the product or service with less dispute, with less contention,” Maes said. “As a businessman, if I itemize a separate fee, someone’s going to call in and complain about it. They’re going to ask about it. They’re going to say, “What’s this for?’ And then they’re going to feel nickeled and dimed.”

No, Mr. Maes, this approach is all about ignorance. Both keeping your customers (and potential constituents) ignorant so that they won’t complain, and ignorance about an important aspect of governance in America.

Here in American, the governed are supposed to be informed about their government. Right?

Good luck with the Tea Party event in Grand Junction next weekend, Danny.

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Ignorati Proclaim There Is Not Evidence That Science Exists

(Flat Earth Society keeping it real – promoted by Colorado Pols)

As reported yesterday by Ralphie here and here, the Ignorati are targeting schoolchildren in Mesa County. But don’t relax just because you live on the other side of the hill. They’re also after YOUR little darlings in all of Colorado. And your dog Toto, too.

Who’s They? The anti-science, anti-education movement that un-ironically calls themselves [un]Balanced Education for Everyone (or [u]BEE). (Careful readers will note they left out the word “fair” from their name.)

From the Denver Post:

GRAND JUNCTION – A national group that thinks global warming is “junk science” and that teaching it is unnecessarily scaring schoolchildren brought its first petition effort for “balanced education” to Mesa County Schools on Tuesday night.



[Unsuccessful school board candidate Rose] Pugliese’s efforts have made her the poster girl for the group Balanced Education for Everyone and have pinpointed Mesa County as a national test case for keeping the teaching of humans’ influence on global warming out of science classes. [emphasis added]

OK, let’s be clear here. I completely agree that teachers should check their political perspectives at the classroom door. Especially at the science classroom door. But that’s not really what these petitions and “battles” are about, are they?

The goals of people like Rose Pugliese and [unsuccessful Lt. Gov. candidate] Janet Rowland and Marcia Neal (see below) and [u]BEE are to promote particular political perspectives and to eliminate consideration of factual information that might call these ideologies into doubt.

Contrast Real Estate Attorney Rose Pugliese’s claim reported in the Denver Post:

“It (global warming) is not a proven scientific theory. There is not evidence to support it.”

With the joint conclusions from the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council:

The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to begin taking steps to prepare for climate change and to slow it.

Who to believe? Scientists who have long careers built upon rationally evaluating evidence? Or an ideologue? Oooh, will this question be on the CSAP?

But if you want conspiracy theories, the professional climate scientists who are actually studying the issue can’t hold a candle to the lawyers and politicians who don’t even have a concept of their own ignorance.

Pugliese, who has the backing of Colorado State Board of Education member Marcia Neal, said she hopes to expand her campaign to attack curriculum issues on a larger scale.

“This is just a small battle in a larger battle,” Pugliese said. “I really hope this inspires more people to get involved in our schools.” [emphasis added]

I’m inspired. Are you?

If you care about the education that your children and children all over Colorado will receive, then it behooves you to keep on alert for the names that were reported in the Denver Post article. Attend your local school board meetings and speak up for rational, evidence-based thought. Please.[poll id=”1123″]

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“No Scientific Misconduct”

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Oxburgh report, the second of three investigations of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, finds that there was no scientific misconduct by researchers.

(The first report that exonerated Prof. Phil Jones can be found here.)

From the 2nd review panel’s Conclusions:

We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it. Rather we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention.

But really, outside of rabid deniers and conspiracy “theorists,” is anyone surprised?

The CRU has two research emphases: a) construction and interpretation of tree ring chronologies, and b) studies of temperatures over the last few hundred years.

The review panel found no evidence of misconduct in either research program.

Regarding CRU tree ring research:

After reading publications and interviewing the senior staff of CRU in depth, we are satisfied that the CRU tree-ring work has been carried out with integrity, and that allegations of deliberate misrepresentation and unjustified selection of data are not valid.

Regarding CRU temperature research:

In detailed discussion with the researchers we found them to be objective and dispassionate in their view of the data and their results, and there was no hint of tailoring results to a particular agenda. Their sole aim was to establish as robust a record of temperatures in recent centuries as possible.

The panel did criticize the CRU for not having closer collaborations with professional statisticians. And for having been a bit lax in their record keeping in the early years. Apparently in the 80’s, the researchers at CRU did not appreciate that their work would be so important and receive so much attention. So, rather than divert scarce resources to record keeping, they focused on continued quality research.

Critics/deniers were characterized as “selective,” “uncharitable,” and “lack[ing] awareness.” The discussions (I use that term loosely) initiated by critics/deniers, and even some supporters/popular-izers, were characterized as:

… oversimplifications that omit serious discussion of uncertainties emphasized by the original authors.

In short, the review panel had strong praise for the overall quality and rigor of the CRU research.

We believe that CRU did a public service of great value by carrying out much time-consuming meticulous work on temperature records at a time when it was unfashionable and attracted the interest of a rather small section of the scientific community. CRU has been among the leaders in international efforts to determining the overall uncertainty in the derived temperature records and where work is best focussed to improve them.

So … can we please wrest our attention away from the petty distractions of “Climate-gate” long enough to look at the latest reports that use real data. Both NOAA and NASA have reported that March 2010 global average temperature was the warmest recorded for March. Ever.



(Careful readers will note a small blue dot in the vicinity of western Colorado in the figure above. Although this is distracting, an accurate assessment of global trends requires focusing on the preponderance of large red dots in the image.)

We return you to your regularly scheduled programming …

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News Flash: Most Americans Are Sane

According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, most Americans understand and agree with the vast majority of the currently active and practicing climatologists around the world.

Some 56 percent of likely general-election voters say global warming is happening now, and a further 21 percent say it will happen in the future. [emphases added]

(OK, so this poll is oh-so-pre-election (it came out Nov 2). But, it was jointly conducted by an R and a D pollster and seems to contrast with some of the other polls on public perceptions of global warming, thus it might still be noteworthy!)

Unfortunately, a small minority of Americans still think Sarah Palin and James Inhofe are climate experts. How small of a minority? Answer below the fold.

(Turns out, it’s about the same percentage that undervote in a contested school board election in Mesa County. Coincidence?)

By contrast, some 16 percent said global warming will not happen.

Additionally, Americans recognize that it is time for America to regain its moral leadership and take action. Now.

77 percent of respondents favored action, 18 percent opposed action, and 5 percent were undecided.

It also seems that the sane portion of America can see through all the fear-mongering of the US Chamber of Commerce and those industries with a large stake in the status quo:

… a large plurality of voters canvassed – 48 percent – thought efforts to reduce global warming would create new American jobs. [emphasis added]

Combined, nearly two-thirds of Americans thought that taking action to reduce CO2 emissions would have either a positive effect, or no effect, on American jobs.

One thing remains apparent, Exxon and all the rest who have fronted money to astroturfing sure know how to turn science into a partisan issue:

For example, 49 percent of Republicans think global warming is a serious threat, versus 90 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents.

I still think it is amazing how many Republicans think they can create their own facts. And seem to think that the real physical world pays heed to their “creative factiness.”

What is wrong with half the people who still self-identify as Republican? How can we actually improve the lot of people in Colorado, in the US, in the world, if some people have no respect for facts?

It takes an informed citizenry to counter all the misinformation that the purveyors of business as usual spew on a daily basis.

On the other hand, maybe there a way we can blame this on teachers’ unions? Or mothers in the workforce? Or the GLBT radical agenda? Or interracial marriage? Anything that would allow us to escape taking personal responsibility for our collective ignorance.

Sigh.

Bummer that the old standby of tar and feathers has gone out of fashion …

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GJ Sentinel Doesn’t Report: Penry Cause of Economic Loss to Mesa Cty

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

In the Thursday edition of the GJ Daily Sentinel was a report on how distributions of energy impact revenues have changed.

Garfield County raked in more than $11 million of an $80 million bonanza in energy impact revenues announced by the state Wednesday.

While that was more than the county expected, Mesa County got less than it anticipated, and Grand Junction saw its distribution totals drop from last year because of a change in how funds are distributed.

The formula change is a bit complicated, but DOLA has a decent summary of the changes that were enacted with the passage of HB08-1083.

But who was the Senate sponsor of HB08-1083? If you read the Sentinel, you wouldn’t know. But …

… if you read Colorado Pols, you would know that it was Senator Josh Penry (SD-7).

Briefly, Sen. Penry was the sponsor of a bill that resulted in a loss of nearly $4,000,000 of severance tax funds coming to Mesa County and nearly $2,000,000 of direct distribution funds lost to Grand Junction.

“That is a huge, huge impact on our portion of severance tax, and that surprised us,” [county manager Jon] Peacock said.

Oh, and how did Rep. Steve King (HD-54) vote on this bill? The Sentinel is silent, but now you know he voted “Yes.”

So how does the Sentinel report that the sponsorship and votes from Mesa County’s golden boys contributed to the loss of 6 million dollars to the county and city?

.

It doesn’t.

Now, I think the change in the formula for the impact fund distributions was warranted – Mesa County previously raked in the funds because so many workers lived in the county. However, the major physical and infrastructure impacts were taking place in Garfield County. Some change was certainly necessary to make things more fair.

Thus, to me, what is unsettling is that the Sentinel, which is quick to get Penry’s view for any story that could be negative about Gov. Ritter, chose to not point out the significant roles of the local senator and representative in causing these economic losses to the county.

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Energy News: local hack contradicts boss, no story at 10

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Today a former Rocky reporter, now working for the Denver Post, repeated without challenge the propaganda of EnCana’s Colorado spokesperson Doug Hock.

EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) trimmed its investment in Colorado from $700 million in 2008 to $400 million this year, partly because of new drilling rules, spokesman Doug Hock said.

“We have cut down investment by 10 percent in Texas and Louisiana, 30 percent in Wyoming,” Hock said. “That’s where you see the connection with the rules in Colorado, where we cut back 40 percent.” Denver Post – April 24, 2009

 

A quick check of EnCana’s 1st Quarter Report, released just two days earlier would have revealed another trend that might have been of interest to Post readers…

The Q1 financial statistics reveal that EnCana has also cut down investment in Canada by 40% (from US$1.04 billion in the 1st Q of 2009 to US$624 million in 1st Q 2008) while increasing overall investments in the US by 4%. See EnCana 2009 Q1 Report – April 22, 2009. Armed with this information, this reporter could have asked Doug Hock to (1) explain the similarity between trends in Colorado and Canada and (2) explain why shareholders are being told investments are increasing in TX & LA while he is telling reporters they are decreasing.

Post readers might also have benefited from a contrast of Doug Hock’s talking points with those of EnCana’s President and CEO during the April 22 phone conference with shareholders. For example, consider this explanation for EnCana’s focus on Louisiana rather than Colorado:

The company has committed to reducing costs across the board by 10 per cent this year, and part of the savings will be reallocated to programs like the Louisiana resource, where labour and service costs are cheaper and the infrastructure to carry the fuel to market is extensive, [EnCana president and chief executive Randy Eresman] said. (Emphasis added)   Calgary Herald – April 23, 2009

Reporters that repeat the tired old misinformation eagerly disseminated by O&G spokespeople are doing a great disservice to the people of Colorado. Industry spokespeople are paid to redirect responsibility for bad news. Reporters should not make their job easier by repeating it without challenge. In less than one (unpaid) hour I was able to uncover the information provided to EnCana shareholders that sheds some doubt on Doug Hock’s assertions that the new COGCC rules are a dominant driver of O&G investments in Colorado (driving from 25-75% of the cut in investment).

Within the same hour I found other reports that served to explain, rather than blame. For example:

When overall energy demand fell, the demand for natural gas also plummeted and “resource plays”, particularly the ones in remote regions without good gas pipeline infrastructure are no longer profitable. Drillers have cut back dramatically and plays like Colorado’s Piceance Basin or “Western Slope” regions that can’t command even “market” prices for natural gas are grinding to a halt.

For western Colorado, something on the order of $5.00 per thousand cubic feet (MCF) is probably needed to sustain the activity level. Currently, producers are receiving more like $2.25 to $3.00 per MCF. Denver Energy Examiner – April 23, 2009

And:

The limited gas pipeline infrastructure of the area precludes open access to the more lucrative central US and west coast markets forcing Colorado producers to suffer severe price discounting (the “differential”) as compared to those markets.  Natural gas bring $6.00 per MCF (thousand cubic feet) at the Henry Hub central distribution point in Oklahoma may only bring $2.50 to $3.00 per MCF at the well head in Rifle, Colorado due to the tariff and transportation costs associated with getting it to market. Denver Energy Examiner – April 18, 2009

Now it may well be true that the new COGCC rules are having some influence on O&G investments in Colorado. Indeed, I have no doubt it is true. But when a local industry spinmeister says something that is very nearly completely at odds with the CEO of the same company, somebody is speaking less than the entire truth. An informed reporter should be asking the follow up questions that will expose this.

There’s even more disturbing information out there, but after an hour of reading and writing, I had to quit. I was only getting more irate. I know this former Rocky reporter can do better work (she contributed some wonderful in-depth and analytical reports when she was with the Rocky).

The people of Colorado deserve to know and understand what is going on with energy development in the state. Indeed, this may be a critical issue that influences some elections in 2010. Doing what amounts to essentially reprinting industry press releases is harmful.

We have some tough decisions to make over the next decade. Issue advocates have the resources to get their message to us in every mailbox, unadulterated and on glossy paper. Media sources that repeat talking points, rather than provide information, should fail.

Discuss.

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Dude! Got any “first-hand information” in that truck?

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Heartland Institute has web-published a story supposedly about the environmental impacts of drilling on the Roan Plateau. It’s scheduled to come out in its magazine “Environment & Climate News” on March 1, 2009. The story is entitled First-Hand Look Shows Drilling Impacts Are Minimal.

To research this story, the Heartland Institute sent out a lawyer from Florida, a Mr. James M. Taylor. Thus, you can anticipate that there will be little actual environmental information and the errors are going to be the stuff of legend. You can also anticipate that local Republicans are going to wave this account around as supporting “evidence” in their largely impotent attempts to disembowel the new COGCC rules.

Quotes, commentary, links, and an exercise below the fold …

In documenting that he was “thorough” in “conducting” his “research” into the issue, Mr. Taylor reports that:

I spent two days in November crisscrossing the Roan Plateau of northwestern Colorado, northeastern Utah, and southwestern Wyoming.

Leave aside the fact that the Roan Plateau is located entirely within Colorado, and ask yourself if two days is sufficient time for a novice non-resident to collect sufficient reliable “first-hand information” given that an objective is to cover major portions of three western states? And even if this is all the time available, is November a desirable time for assessing impacts to vegetation or wildlife?

But then Mr. Taylor claims:

Oil and natural gas in the Roan Plateau are as concentrated as anywhere else in the lower 48 states.

Which is true if you consider other states (e.g., New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and even eastern Colorado) not to be part of the lower 48.

In his description of the area, we learn that:

The Roan Plateau is “high desert.” Most of the region receives less than 10 inches of precipitation per year.

This might seem reasonable if you are from Florida, can’t identify plants, don’t care to look at a map, and don’t know where to find weather data. But most outdoor-savvy people would not expect to find spruce, lodgepole, fir, aspen, deciduous woodlands, and mixed mountain shrub vegetation communities in “high desert.” I guess this seemingly curious phenomenon of the actual vegetation not resembling a “high desert” ecosystem might be explained by the fact that much of the top of the Roan Plateau receives over 40 inches of precipitation annually? (Start here for rainfall or here for vegetation maps, if you are not offended by evidence.)

Some of Mr. Taylor’s inability to accurately describe Roan Plateau ecosystems might also be due to his decision to collect “first-hand information” in the vicinity of Rio Blanco County Road 142, which is located well north of the Roan Plateau and is even north of the White River and at less than 6,000 feet in elevation. (The well location in his second photo is at 5,984 ft. according to COGCC records.) Oops!

Oddly, Mr. Taylor felt it was important to point out that in his “study area”:

Wellheads and structures are typically located at least a hundred yards from one another, preserving the sense of openness.

Acknowledging that there is 100 yards between each facility does not leave for much “sense of openness” given that a 2 acre well pad site, if square, would be approximately 98 yards on a side. Perhaps parking lots are considered “open space” in Mr. Taylor’s neighborhood near St. Petersburg, Florida?

But the coup de grace is Mr. Taylor’s report on his collection of “first-hand information” on resource development’s impacts on wildlife:

While I was taking pictures of the EnCana field, an area resident drove by in a pickup truck. I asked him if he had ever noticed the facilities having any negative impacts on wildlife.

That’s correct, the entirety of Mr. Taylor’s “first-hand information” on drilling’s impacts on wildlife is a second-hand, anecdotal, and unconfirmed statement from an unnamed dude in a pickup truck. This would be precious if Mr. Taylor was a second grader.

To wrap this up, in his third photo, Mr. Taylor identifies what he terms a “typical natural gas wellhead.” This is not an inaccurate statement, but what he neglects to mention or photograph is the 7.5 acre gas processing plant beside the road just one half mile from the EnCana well. Nor does he mention that there are at least 14 additional wells plus other ancillary sites in the same square mile section that includes the EnCana well.

What is wrong with these sorts of people? Why does a lawyer from Florida think he is qualified to assess environmental impacts of industrial activity in northwestern Colorado? Is there a legal definition for “first-hand information” that differs from common usage of the term? Don’t Dartmouth College and Syracuse University (Taylor’s alma maters) teach their students how to find factual information about the natural world?

How did we get to this position where an educated adult considers three photos taken from a car, and a conversation with a pickup driver, sufficient to evaluate “environmental tradeoffs?”

We obviously have a long way to go before we can claim to have not left any child behind.

Sigh.

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