Air…Water…Health…and Accommodation.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Today and tomorrow Governor Hickenloopers' Blue Ribbon Panel on Oil and Gas policy is meeting in Rifle to discuss the future of drilling and fracking in Colorado. Not many people I know have high hopes this will result in any groundbreaking policy suggestions, but it could. If the Commissioners are willing to set aside a century old principle for a few minutes and consider that we are living in 2014 and not 1872…and that consideration points the way to only one conclusion.

It is time to effectively incorporate the Rule of Reasonable Accommodation into COGCC policy, taking into consideration the advances in technology and practices used by the modern extraction industry.

When Congress split mineral and surface estates in the 19th century, it was done for reasons that seemed appropriate and necessary, at the time. But times have changed, and it is imperative that the "Blue Ribbon Panel" understand and act upon those changes. Since the beginning of the separation of the two estates, the mineral estate has generally considered to be dominant. The rationale for the mineral estate being dominant was that the ownership of minerals would be meaningless if the mineral owner could not access and extract those resources through the surface. That seems reasonable enough, and for a very long time, difficult to argue.

With advanced technology, specifically directional drilling, the Rule of Reasonable Accommodation becomes a much more flexible vehicle. The Rule, as set forth in CRS 34-60-127, states:

"An operator shall conduct operations in a manner that accommodates the surface owner by minimizing intrusion upon and damage to the surface of the land."

As used in this section, "minimizing intrusion upon" can include "selecting alternative locations for wells" among other measures as long as they are "technologically sound, economically practical, and reasonably available to the operator". With modern drilling practices providing the industry with the capability to reach out, literally and laterally, for miles, there is no longer any need for an operator to sit atop or even close to a mineral resource in order to gain access.

(more…)

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New Report: Natural Gas Not as Clean as Advertised.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

From the New York Times comes a report on a new study that blows a hole in the notion that natural gas is a clean fuel, particularly as it compares to diesel as a transportation fuel.

"The lady in the black pantsuit", who appears nightly on your TV screen, doesn't want you to hear this, because she has been trying for years to convince you that natural gas is "clean" and is the salvation of both the economy and the environment. Turns out, it is neither.

The sign is ubiquitous on city buses around the country: “This bus runs on clean burning natural gas.”

But a surprising new report, to be published Friday in the journal Science, concludes that switching buses and trucks from traditional diesel fuel to natural gas could actually harm the planet’s climate.

Although burning natural gas as a transportation fuel produces 30 percent less planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions than burning diesel, the drilling and production of natural gas can lead to leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Those methane leaks negate the climate change benefits of using natural gas as a transportation fuel, according to the study, which was conducted by scientists at Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The study concludes that there is already about 50 percent more methane in the atmosphere than previously estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency, a signal that more methane is leaking from the natural gas production chain than previously thought.

“Switching from diesel to natural gas, that’s not a good policy from a climate perspective,” said the study’s lead author, Adam R. Brandt, an assistant professor in the department of energy resources at Stanford.

This is very timely information, particularly as the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission is set to consider new rules for emissions from oil and gas facilities in our state. There is much more at this link.

The rulemaking being undertaken by our Colorado Health Department is a historic effort that should have everyones' attention. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time on planet earth a government has considered regulating methane emissions. This decision will have dramatic effects, not only on the health of Coloradans, but on communities around the globe as, once again, Colorado is leading the way toward responsible energy regulation.

The air we breathe is not a commodity with a relative value that should be discounted because of the profits of the worlds' wealthiest industry. I encourage everyone who can get there to attend the hearing next Wednesday, Feb. 19th., at the Aurora City Council Chambers, 15151 East Alameda Parkway, in Aurora. Public comment should begin about 9:00 AM, but things sometimes change on short notice.

The CDPHE website offers 303-692-2000 as an information source. Please consider participating in these hearings…unless, of course, you don't breathe air.

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Nat Gas…Outta Here!

 

I caught a piece on NPR just recently by reporter Jackie Northram. She tells the story of a $15 billion expansion project at the Sabine Pass natural gas terminal.

 

Phase one of the expansion will enable the facility to export (emphasis mine) U.S. natural gas worldwide. 5 LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) storage tanks, each containing 160,000 cubic meters of liquefied natural gas are nearing completion.

 

The terminal was built at a time when it was widely believed there would be a deficit of natural gas here in the U.S.  Charif Souki, the CEO of Cheniere Energy, says back then it was believed Sabine Pass would be busy and profitable for many years.

 

During the gas boom, many believed that America would benefit from the enormous reserves of natural gas being unlocked. Some foresaw a future with gas powered cars taking us back and forth to work. The industry would survive nicely and big money would be made. America would be energy independent and T Boone Pickens would be stylin'… he convinced a bunch of investors that the price of methane would be resilient. That hasn't happened.

The Big Five Oil companies don't really focus on the U.S., however. They have bigger fish to fry..and a much more lucrative market "out there".

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/nov/30/shell-gazprom-global-cooperation-pact

 

 Ay Caruso, an energy specialist with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the decision was met with a huge amount of skepticism. He says at the time natural gas prices were still high in the U.S. and it was hard to see how the costly process of liquefying and shipping the gas could actually turn a profit.

GUY CARUSO: In fact, when he first mentioned that idea, some of us were wondering how he could possibly think it would work. And now he's considered to be, you know, prescient and, you know, with a great vision. And…

Federal permission has been given to sell American natural gas to the Dominican Republic, Columbia, potentially Brazil, Chile, Uruguay.  The next step geographically would be to go to Europe…home of both Royal Dutch/Shell AND Gazprom…neat.

 

 The first tanker of LNG is expected to ship out of the Sabine Pass terminal in late 2015 or early 2016; it will mark the U.S. entry into the export market for natural gas – which until now has been dominated by countries such as Qatar and Russia.

 

I hope all the "Drill, Baby, Drill", patriots are ready to pay a LOT more to heat their gunsheds. America is being "fracked" to pieces in order to line the pockets of people like Rex Tillerson, Peter Voser, et al. A few jobs?…sure…a few trillion gallons of poisoned water? Count on it…

More lies from the "Lady in the Black Pantsuit"?

I wouldn't be surprised.

 

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Industry Bigwig…CleanStim, Yes…Fat Tire, No.

In a recent editorial published in that local, daily Denver paper, well known oil industry hack and friend o' frackin', John Harpole, has drawn a clear line in the …well, hops..and announced his personal boycott of New Belgium Breweries' products.
 
New Belgium CEO Kim Jordan and her husband, Jeff Lebesch have been lavish in their support of the effort by communites and citizens across the state to restrict the potentially devastating process known as hydraulic fracturing. Mr. Harpole, the CEO of Mercator Energy,in a piece entitled, "New Belgiums' line on fracking is too tough to swallow" lays out his case.  

(more…)

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And now…announcing ” SuperFrack”!!

From the website, "Oilprice.com" comes the announcement of a trend I have mentioned before…more and more "fracks" per wellbore to release more natural gas. I will let the article, which I have edited for length, speak for itself.

Make sure you read through to the last paragraph, and then imagine the possibilities…

          ——————————————————————

Lower costs. Higher oil and gas recoveries.”

That's how Dan Themig, President of Packers Plus – a privately owned, Calgary-based fracking (completions) company – describes an interesting new development in fracking…a development that spells bigger profits for energy producers…

You see, Themig's new QuickFRAC® product is one great example of a new trend in fracking – one that gets away from the traditional horsepower model and into one a “Recovery Factor” (RF) model. (The RF approach looks to increase the amount of oil and gas recovered from a well. It's estimated that most wells recover just 5% -20% of the Original Oil in Place – also known as OOIP.)

The size of individual fracking operations has increased 10 times in the last decade, as the industry has grown and learned how to more effectively apply the technology.

Themig says the “sledgehammer approach” of more horsepower (in the form of pumping trucks at surface), more fluid and more proppant has been the industry norm for the last five years, but now the industry is getting smarter in order to increase production from wells.

“We want to reduce the amount of fluid used and maybe the amount of proppant. We can reduce the time and number of stages and get a more effective Recovery Factor.”

Fracking in 2004
This is the size of a frack job in 2004.

Fracking in 2008
This is the size of a frack job in 2008.

In the new, ever-longer horizontal wells being drilled, fracking is done in multiple stages – often every 100 metres.

QuickFrac can do multiple stages of fracks at the same time.
QuickFrac can do multiple stages of fracks at the same time.

Themig says that completing several fracking stages at once saves so much time, QuickFRAC can save 10% on overall well costs for a producer – often a $500,000 saving per well.

Having several fracks go into the formation at the same time also increases the amount of oil recovered from the well, Themig says. That’s because the rock holding the oil is being hit by huge pressures and vibrations on different sides at the same time, which creates more fractures in the rock.

“We drilled a $5 million well and decreased costs 10% by doing 24 stages in 10 hours,” Themig says. “Previously that would have taken 4-5 days using cement liners in the wellbore, and two days with our regular StackFRAC® technology.”

“And we increased the Recovery Factor by 30%-40%.”

Themig says The Future is using longer horizontal wells, and doing more frack stages per well, and QuickFRAC is positioned to help the industry make the evolution easy and profitable.

“The number of fracks are now far more than we ever thought it was going to be. In 2001 we thought 5-6 fracks be enough to frack a well. Then the industry moved to 12-15 per well now to over 30. Some customers want 40-60 fracks – consider how long it would take to do 60 fracks that are 4 hours each. The future looks like 60-100 stages in a lot of wells, depending on geologic needs.”

by. Keith Schaefer

 

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/A-New-Trend-in-Fracking-Emerges-The-Recovery-Factor.html

 

Sooo…if complete destabilization of the ground upon which you stand appeals to you….welcome to "SuperFrack"…coming soon to a watertable near you.

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Ray Scott demonstrates profound dishonesty…or ignorance…you choose

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Representative Ray Scott of Mesa CountyВ introduced a bill into the Colorado Legislature on Friday that would exempt oil and gas wells permittedВ in the next two yearsВ from the states’ severance tax.В  В He claims the point is to help fund education, because after the two year free ride, he intendsВ subsequent severance taxes will be earmarked to fund college tuitions. Yeah, …right.

His supposition is that a freebie from the state is necessary and desirable to spur a slug of permits that will then create a resultant uptick in drilling, which will then spur job creation. He claims the idea is much like Amendment 58 which went down in 2008 by nearly 60 % at the ballot box…but it isn’t.

The Bill Ritter supported Amendment 58 would have raised severance taxes on O&G production and would have ended the decades long Ad Valorem Tax Credit that alreadyВ allows O&G companies to reduce their severance taxes in the amount of the property taxes they owe.В  This discount, which they alone enjoy, В amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes they don’t pay…year after year. To offer them another freebie and try to link it to a bill that did just the opposite to the industryВ isВ  plainly dishonest.

But, when you are a legislative toad for the oil and gas industry, you can never be quite dishonest enough…so Rep. Scott deals out this whopper…

 “The oil and gas industry in Colorado is arguably the largest industry in our state,

This , of course, is not true…and I believe Ray Scott knows it. В O&G are part of the energy and mining sector of our state economy…a sector which makes up under 5% of our state economic output. He is either lying or ignorant.

he also offers up another gem…

“Each derrick’s going to create potentially 200 jobs. If we could get one extra derrick in Mesa County right now, that 200 jobs is important. If we got five, that’s a thousand jobs.”

I am not sure what sort of math the good Representative is using to calculate this (or where he gets his data), but it is the same sort of calculation, I will bet, that allows the “blonde lady in the black pantsuit” to claim O&G supports 11,000,000 jobs nationally. I have checked withВ  the U.S. Dept. of Labor and I can only say to her, “liar, liar, pantsuit on fire” because she isn’t telling the truth…

and neither is Ray Scott.

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Update on COGCC Water Testing and Setbacks Hearings.

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here is the announcement from the COGCC regarding next weeks’ hearing schedule. The setback hearings have been moved to the end of the docket. We expect those hearings to start late on Tuesday or Wednesday morning…As always, things can change. Even though I will be traveling, I will update again with any news…


Location of January 2013 Rulemaking Hearing.

The hearing on January 7, 2013 will convene following the conclusion of

proceedings under Docket No. 1211-RM-03 and abbreviated general Commission

business (consent agenda only), in the Governor’s Square 15 meeting room on the

lower level of the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.

The Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel

1550 Court Place – Lower Level

Governor’s Square 15 Meeting Room

Denver, CO 80202

(303) 893-3333

Information about the testimony expected is below the fold…The first day of hearings (all start at 9:00AM.) will concentrate on water testing rules…setback hearings follow the conclusion of that hearing. As you can see…the environmental community gets to go last.

4. Testimony and Cross Examination.

Witnesses identified in the Parties’ Final Prehearing Statements should give a

brief overview of their testimony and be prepared to answer Commission questions

regarding their testimony. It is not necessary to recite the credentials of expert

witnesses as that information should be included in the submitted materials.

If a Party chooses to cross examine a witness, the time spent cross examining

the witness will be deducted from the cross examiner’s allotted time.

Order of Presentations and Allotment of Time for Witness Testimony.

The Parties are encouraged to group themselves according to common interests

and concerns and allocate their time among witnesses according to the following limits:

A. Commission Staff – 45 minutes

B. Public Comment (continued) – 30 minutes (2 minutes per speaker)

C. Elected Officials – 15 minutes

D. Preliminary motions – 30 minutes

E. Regulated Community and their Associations – 3.5 hours

F. Colorado Cattleman’s Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, and

Colorado Association of Home Builders – 2.0 hours

G. Local Government and Councils of Government – 2.0 hours

H. Community and Environmental Organizations – 3.5 hours

The time limitations set forth above include each group’s direct testimony, as well

as cross examination conducted by any member of a group. Parties are advised that

rebuttal testimony may be limited to written submissions. Any party wishing to preserve

time for rebuttal testimony should do so expressly prior to commencing its direct

testimony.

Please attend at any time, but note that public comment IS available. You can sign up at the door.

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Update…No Session on Monday,7th! More Later….

(Glad to exercise my waning obligation in promoting a strong West Slope and Colorado voice, the esteemed DukeCo1 – promoted by ClubTwitty)

It’s Your Water…Pay Attention

On the morning of Monday, Jan. 7th, at 9:00 o’clock (as of this writing), the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will continue hearings involving the minimum distance that should be required between oil and gas wells and facilities, and occupied structures. This “setback” has historically been 150 feet in rural areas and 350 feet in urban areas. The damage that can be done by mishaps in the O&G business can be disasterous. The truth is well documented.

This setback distance needs to change. I will be testifying, on behalf of the thousands of members of the Western Colorado Congress, at the hearing on Monday and I encourage every Coloradoan who cares about the air they breathe and the water they drink to ATTEND the hearings and SPEAK during the public comment period. The Commission needs to see a crowd that fills the hallways and stretches to the street The hearings will be held Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at the Sheraton Denver Downtown at 1550 Court Place.

My submitted testimony I have pasted after the fold…  

BEFORE THE OIL AND GAS CONSERVATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF COLORADO

IN THE MATTER OF CHANGES TO THE ) CAUSE NO. 1R RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE OIL )

AND GAS CONSERVATION COMMISSION ) DOCKET No. 1211-RM-04

OF THE STATE OF COLORADO )

COGCC SETBACK RULEMAKING 2012 )

TESTIMONY OF DUKE COX

When I sat down at the computer and began to consider my testimony, my mind went to a question. I reflected upon how many times I have taken the opportunity, and have been honored, to be a part of the decision making process each of you, Commissioners, now faces.  I simply don’t have the inclination nor the energy to figure it out, but I began to speak to this issue in 2005. When you add in all the other commissions, committees, and councils, before which I have appeared, I have asked hundreds of decision makers for the same thing…fairness and honesty.

The decisions facing this commission are not trivial…nor are they technical…they are filled with humanity. The decisions you make affect real human beings in very real ways. The judgments you must make are filled with the anguish and disenfranchisement of the many living human beings that wind up on the losing end of the “play”; the thousands of Colorado citizens that drew the short straw when it comes to their dealings with a chemically intense industrial company that wants to take up residence, literally across the street, and yet bear no actual responsibility for the impact of their presence. Ask anyone who lives in the gas patch…those impacts are profoundly unpleasant and dangerous.

Those humans are the ones for whom I speak; the ones whose story is not bankrolled and broadcast by the most powerful industry in the world. The ones’ whose homes I hope you will choose to protect.  

I am a builder. I build homes, among other things. I know how important a home can be. I also know far too many people whose homes have become an unhealthy trap, or an unlivable liability. Now, as the industries’ appetite for oil and gas profits continues to accelerate, more and more thousands of Colorado homes, and the people they hold, are going to be put at risk. It is imperative that this commission move decisively to establish rules that clearly put public safety as their priority. It is unfair to ask Colorado residents to live with significant risk, when that risk can be so easily reduced.

The setback rule is a critical marker in letting companies know that Colorado only welcomes the best companies; those committed to using the best available technology and incorporating the very best management practices. Companies who want to produce oil and gas in Colorado should willingly utilize the remarkable reach capability of modern directional drilling. As we all know, both oil and gas are taken from pools with no distinct underground property lines. This reality greatly improves the flexibility of decisions about location. The industry lobbies’ who claim that surface property rights are a hindrance to drilling are not being honest. Companies who want to do business in Colorado must honestly and respectfully consider the need to protect our people and the homes they inhabit.

It is not too much to ask, in view of the remarkable new technologies that are here and still emerging, for Colorado’s oil and gas companies to admit that theirs is what Duane Zavadil of Barrett Resources once referred to as an “intrusive” industry. It is within your authority to recognize the increasing threat to Colorado’s public health as drilling, fracking, and production operations creep ever closer to thousands more Colorado homes.

A new setback rule requiring operators to remain at least a thousand feet from homes is a good start in the right direction.

The developers and Homebuilders Association are being disingenuous when they claim that somehow they will be prohibited from developing new subdivisions if greater setbacks from homes are required.  Clearly this is not the case.  The proposed rules by the COGCC staff, and the rules proposed by the conservation community, both include the ability for a landowner to waive the setback requirement.  The developers own the land they are developing.  As landowners, they can waive any setback requirement – whether that setback be 350 feet, 1,000 feet, or 2,000 feet.  

With a 1,000 foot setback, developers will still be able to develop land as they choose.  My guess is what the developers are truly concerned about is how they will market homes in subdivisions where they have waived the setback requirement.

You all have a lot on your plate in protecting the public health, safety, welfare, and environment (including wildlife) while simultaneously promoting the oil and gas industry.  You do not have to worry, however, about how developers and homebuilders will market homes that may eventually be closer than 1,000 feet from an oil and gas facility.      

Colorado’s rulemaking process has been lauded by many people across the nation. Justifiably so. We have created a very comprehensive and workable set of rules that many consider to be a model for the nation, and we should all take pride in what we have created. But, as technology advances and as oil and gas operations inexorably move closer and closer to more heavily populated areas, those rules need to be updated.

Now is the time to do that, and the people of Colorado are counting on you to represent them.  Your mission to represent the people of Colorado and to help protect their health and well being is not secondary to your responsibility to promote development. HB1341 made that clear in 2009. Nothing has changed since then…the people of Colorado, the cities and towns in which they live, and the glorious Colorado environment that envelopes us all are under your stewardship. Please… for all the people in all the communities across our beautiful state…don’t forget that trust.

Duke Cox

 

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You want to put it where…?

I came across this story from Energywire. The decision about re-establishing more reasonable setbacks from homes when locating drilling rigs has been “on the table” at the COGCC for three or four years. Now that discussions are underway, they have been talking for over five months.

The O&G industry will try to stall a decision for as long as they can, all the while setting drilling rigs pretty much wherever they damn well please. Pressure on the O&G leadership is growing dramatically, though, as one community after another realizes the risks they are facing when a drilling rig moves into their neighborhood.

OIL AND GAS: Drilling rigs in Colo. must be farther from homes, schools and hospitals — conservationists  (Thursday, July 26, 2012)

http://us.mg5.mail.yahoo.com/n…

Scott Streater, E&E reporter

A coalition of Colorado conservation groups is asking the state to require that oil and natural gas drilling rigs be sited farther away from homes, schools, hospitals and nursing homes where air pollution from drilling operations can threaten the health of children and others who are most vulnerable.

Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates and two other groups sent a seven-page letter yesterday to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) asking the agency to begin developing new setback rules forbidding drilling rigs within 1,000 feet of residential housing and within 1,500 feet of schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities.

The groups’ letter — sent to COGCC acting Director Thom Kerr — argues that public health studies have found that drilling operations emit toxic pollutants such as benzene and formaldehyde that “pose health risks ranging from asthma to neurological conditions to cancer.” Yet the state’s current 350-foot setback from residences and schools in urban areas is “a much shorter distance than required for liquor stores” and is not a sufficient distance to protect the health of nearby homeowners and schoolchildren, they write.

“In Adams, Boulder, Broomfield and Weld counties, 87 existing, active or proposed drilling sites appear to be within 1,000 feet of public schools,” according to the letter, which in addition to WRA includes the Durango-based San Juan Citizens Alliance and Grand Junction-based Western Colorado Congress.

“This is about protecting the health and safety of families,” said Mike Chiropolos, chief counsel for WRA’s Lands Program. “Continuing to allow drilling just a football field’s length from a playground is not in the best interests of any community.”

What really angers me is listening to engineers from the companies, whose lobbyists fight a change tooth and nail, brag to me about how they can reach out a mile or more with their directional drilling. Why do they fight so hard to resist a sensible standard? Because, second only to their perception it will affect their profit, they can’t stand to be told what to do.

What front range communities and their leaders need to know is the Colorado Supreme Court, in what is known as the “Gunnison Decision”, held that local governments have rights, in at least seven areas, to regulate O&G acvtivities in their community. Contact WSA, WCC or the SJCA if you need help with information or networking. And while you are at it…send them a check.

And…never, never give up.  

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A Rose is a Rose is a Rose…

So, I met Rose Pugliese today. It was an experience that reminded me one should try to avoid jumping to conclusions. Rose is running for Mesa County Commissioner and I had heard a few things about her that seemed outrageous. Rose purportedly said, whilst running for the school board a while back, some ill-advised things about climate change and evolution as they relate to school curriculum. Today, she informed the Bagel Street Irregulars (AKA “the commies in the back room”), that she had been misquoted or something like that. In any case, that is old news and she seemed almost contrite in her explanation today.

I was impressed with the way Rose presents herself. She is articulate, educated and carries herself confidently. But…she suffers from MCMS… Mesa County Mis-infomation Syndrome. You see, Rose came here from out of town not too long ago and became immersed in one of the most pervasive and effective message machines on planet earth (well, at least in Colorado).

When asked her opinion about the future of oil shale (kerogen rock, actually) all she could say was… “I support all forms of energy development”. When pressed for more…she had nothing. It is because the MCrMM (Mesa County republican Message Machine) doesn’t get into messy, facty, details and such.

Not having a ready answer about energy issues might not be a problem if you are running for a county clerk position on Long Island, but when the goal is Mesa County Commissioner, this is required knowledge. But I don’t blame Rose. She is comfortably in the cupped hands of the republican party that can’t go into facty details, because those details always prove them wrong. So the candidate gets a brief primer from an O&G hotshot from Club 20 filling her head with bullshit talking points. It doesn’t really matter in most cases ’cause Rose doesn’t often talk to a crowd like the one she encountered this morning.

You see, you really don’t need to have actual information at your disposal when you talk to  republican gatherings in Mesa County. They don’t want to hear it anyway, because the meme is set in stone here and those who speak out against it are treated as pariahs. I am often approached by progressives who move here and find they can’t talk to their neighbors because progressive thought is actively and angrily suppressed in this community.

Rose got an earful today and spent significant time writing down the things she was hearing. She even promised she would have an open mind (we heard that from Laura Bradford, too, once upon a time) and contact and listen to all sides when making decisions. Platitudes..? I can’t say, but she seemed sincere to me. We will see what develops in our next episode…”the Education of a Rose”.    

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One down…forty nine to go….are you listening Hick?

On the occasion of the spill on Douglas pass, let me post this news, from CNN, of the sanest state in the nation, making a very reasonable decision.

Until the industry STOPS using toxic chemicals in drilling and fracking fluids, we just shouldn’t let them do it.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/17/…

Vermonts’ governor signed a bill that makes it the first state to ban fracking, the controversial practice to extract natural gas from the ground.

“This is a big deal,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday. “This bill will ensure that we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy.”

Shumlin said fracking contaminates groundwater and the science behind it is “uncertain at best.” He said he hopes other states will follow Vermont’s lead in banning it.

Are you listening governor Frackenlooper? Aren’t you ready to lose that nickname? Do you know the name Laura Amos, governor? How about Karen Trulove, or Chris Mobaldi? Does the name Jose Lara ring a bell? These are all names of people sickened or killed by the toxic industry you blindly defend.

Is the money really worth it to you? Do you really think you are doing the people of Colorado a favor by allowing an industry that comprises less than 4% of our state economy to screw up the air and water for the rest of us?…just so they can provide a few thousand jobs? …and make a bloody damned fortune for themselves, in the bargain.

The courageous governor of Vermont has opened the door. Do you have the courage to look through that door and see the truth…or has the taste of fracking fluid poisoned your soul?

So I ask again, governor…is the money really worth it?

 

[poll id=”1463″]

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Colorado Repubs say…Roll back those rules!

(We’re not going to need this planet later, are we? – promoted by ProgressiveCowgirl)

A press release from the group, Colorado Conservation Voters, declares a successful year on the environmental lobbying front.


Colorado’s conservation community praised a productive 2012 legislative session, which they entered with priorities to create jobs and clean up our air and water.  Conservationists accomplished precisely that, highlighting two major bipartisan bills passed with wide majorities and signed into law: the Electronic Recycling Jobs Act (SB 133) which creates 2,500 jobs and the Electric Vehicles Act (HB 1258) which will kick start the electronic vehicle market in Colorado.  Conservation groups also turned back harmful legislation which threatened our clean air, water and public health and secured funding for renewable energy which has brought thousands of jobs to Colorado.

That’s great news, of course, to a tree hugger like me, but the part I found most interesting was the list of anti-conservation bills thrown at the legislature by the repubs. I don’t know if this list was published anywhere other than the CCV website, so I will provide it here, after the jump:  

 

 

The list of anti-environmental legislation below the list of good bills reads like a Craig Meis wet dream.


Pro-Conservation Bills Passed  

SB 133 – Electronic Recycling Jobs Act – Creates 2,500 jobs, bans electronic waste and protects water by keeping tons of toxic materials out of landfills.

HB 1258 – Electric Vehicles – Kick starts Colorado’s electric vehicle market by increasing the availability of electric vehicle recharging stations.

HB 1032 – Continues forest restoration program for five more years.

HB 1050 – Extends tax check off for non-game and endangered wildlife.

HB 1028 – Extends funding for low income energy assistance.

HB 1315 – Reorganization of Governor’s Energy Office – Provides critical funding to ensure the office remains.  The GEO has been instrumental in making Colorado a recognized leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency, bringing thousands jobs to Colorado.  

Anti-Conservation Bills Defeated  

HB 1172 – Prohibits the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) from considering carbon when making decisions on energy generation.

HB 1121 – Permits the PUC to waive the renewable energy standard.

HB 1102 – Increases cap rate from Clean Air Clean Jobs to 1%.

SB 88 – Pre-empts local governments on oil and gas regulations.

SB 17 – Prohibits the Water Quality Control Commission from adopting rules to regulate water pollution.

HB 1103 – Permits counties to exempt themselves from auto emissions testing as part of compliance with ozone standards.

HB 1322 – Requires the federal government to cede federal lands to the state.

HB 1014 – Reduces funding for repairing bridges and improving transit by reducing vehicle registration late fees.

HB 1066 – Requires counties to allow ATVs/OHVs to be driven on county roads, thereby increasing the likelihood of OHV damage to sensitive public land ecosystems.

HB 1021 – Eliminates state transit and rail advisory committees.

SB 126 – Extends time new vehicles are exempt from air inspections from 4 to 8 years without scientific evidence to show that these vehicles do not break down and pollute as they age.

HB 1136 – Eliminates the ability to provide electric vehicle charging stations at rest areas and RTD park and rides.

HB 1160 – Allows the capture of coal bed methane to be considered a renewable energy source under the renewable energy standard.

HB 1161 – Delays water pollution rules on nitrogen and phosphorus.

HB 1351 – Includes energy produced from gas created by burning waste and methane gas from coal mines in the renewable energy standard.  

It is hard to pick the most absurd of the bunch of anti-conservation bills…I came up with a tie for the two bills that want to re-write science the most….HB1160 and HB1351.

I am sure we can all find a favorite in this crowd.  

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You mean…We’re not as important as we think?

A new study done by a local economic research firm in NW Colorado kinda trips up the O&G lie about how significant they are to our economy. The local Chamber of Commerce head tells the tale, and is backed up with statistics.

http://www.craigdailypress.com…

Yampa Valley Data Partners report: Drilling crews leave small economic footprint in Northwest Colorado

By Scott Franz

April 16, 2012

“Chris Oxley has watched oil activity in Moffat County ebb and flow for years.

The Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director said Thursday that pipeline projects and oil drilling has filled area hotels, trailer parks and rooms in private residences. It’s also brought a buzz of activity to town.

But she said the buzz doesn’t tend to last long and the economic impact of oil rig workers who sleep and stay in Craig when exploration activity ramps up is smaller than people may realize.

Oxley said she and about 11 other business leaders met last week with Moffat County Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock.

Oxley said the feedback she got from business owners from lodging, retail, real estate and construction companies at the meeting reaffirmed her long-held belief that drilling crews continue to have a minimal economic impact in Craig.

Scott Ford, a local economic analyst and an adviser for Yampa Valley Data Partners, said his recent analysis of the three phases of well development and his discussions with Shell Oil officials who are working in the region led him to predict the economic impact of drilling crews who work in Moffat and Routt counties will continue to be minimal His economic forecast stated that if drilling activity in Moffat County is as busy as it was in 2006, spending by drilling crews would result in $12,980 in sales tax revenue for Craig, and $18,221 for the state.

The O&G industry likes to claim it is one of, if not the, biggest drivers of Colorados’ economy. The truth is, it constitutes  far less than 4% of our economy and fewer than 10,000 jobs.    

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Dear Governor Hickenlooper,

The last time I wrote to you was shortly after you were elected. I asked, at that time, that you not forget the citizens who live in Colorados’ many (and growing) gas patchs. Your recent actions (well documented here) indicate that you have, indeed, forgotten Colorados’ gasfield orphans. You have betrayed the trust so courageously built by Governor Ritter.

From your buddies’ offices, high up on 17th St., you cannot see the tears in the eyes of the hundreds of Coloradoans whose quiet enjoyment of their private property has been devastated by this industrial molestation called oil and gas development. From the COGA offices, you can’t hear the pleas for justice and fairness coming from the dozens of families whose water has been poisoned by the industry for whom you have just become a lap dog. You have honestly earned the nickname “Frackenlooper”.

I don’t think I am telling you any news when I tell you just how pissed off the conservation community is at you right now. You have ZERO credibility with me, my friends, AND the lady who cuts my hair. Maybe it’s time you went ahead and changed parties. You behave like a republican…you might as well call yourself one.

On the other hand…  

 

You might have a prayer of salvaging some respect from Colorados’ people, but you will have to do something big to change the tide that will likely deny you a second term. I have a suggestion for you:  Save the North Fork.

The BLM is considering leasing 20,000+ acres around the magnificent North Fork Valley, home to over 60 organic growers. It is clean, rustic, and should remain that way. Industrial development of such a dirty resource as natural gas is completely inappropriate for an area with so much “natural capital”. The earths’ bounty will deliver wealth and prosperity in the North Fork Valley as long as humans don’t destroy that capacity. Lend your political influence to NOT drilling, for a change.

I urge you to visit Paonia, Hotchkiss, Crawford and their surrounding fields and farms. It is a place that surpasses the imagination in beauty and pastoral ease. It is no place for drilling rigs. Go there, Governor…talk to the people whose lives and livlihoods you have put at risk by being a cheerleader for an industry who deals in poison water and filthy air.

Convince them that drinking fracking fluid is good for them…and that it will make their produce more desirable. Get out of town for a few days and get to know the “other half”. Get to know the widower of Chris Mobaldi. Chris died last year from illnesses her physician was convinced, but, of course, couldn’t prove, were from her chronic exposure to gas well emissions.

Sit down with Steve Mobaldi and tell him how much you enjoy drinking fracking fluid.

Governor Ritter came out to visit the residents of the patch and what he discovered led him to push through the new rules you keep trying to compromise. Bill Ritter withstood the hatred and bellicosity of those people for whom you carry water. He was our champion and our friend.

You are not half the Governor that was Bill Ritter. You are “Governor Frackenlooper”…by your own choice.    

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No Time to Snooze…

Polsters, and all other sentient creatures in Colorado, need to be aware of the latest opportunity for our Governor to stack the deck for his O&G industry friends or, instead, channel his predecessor and do the right thing for the people of Colorado.

The Director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, David Neslin, has announced his departure from that position to take a job with a law firm that specializes in defending oil and gas companies. WTF?…again?

The conflict of interest questions raised by this fact are only heightened by the long history of such revolving door activity in this position. It is imperative that front range citizens, activists, and government officials understand how important it is to contact the Governor (sorry, I don’t have time to look it up for you) and insist to him that Director Neslins’ replacement should be a regulator…someone who will not likely be offered a fat job in the industry they are supposed to regulate…not facilitate.

I knew Director Neslin during the rule making process, and I am surprised and disappointed in his choice.

But it is his to make, of course.

The question of the influence of politics on public policy is being addressed by a powerful new voice from Garfield county. I encourage everyone to check out the “Earthworks” website, and look for a story by Judy Jordan, former Oil and Gas Liason for that county. She has a very enlightening story to tell. Make sure you read the comment by Lisa Bracken, as well.

Sorry I can’t seem to copy a link for you. It may have something to do with my innate stupidity….ya’think?    🙂  

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Sorry, Charlie…your story smells fishy.

I don’t know if I am more disappointed that Diane Cox, Mesa Counties’ Marijuana Vigilante, continues to spread lies and hysterical rhetoric about medicinal Cannabis, or that Charles Ashby of the daily Grand Junction newspaper has written such a terrible story in covering her outrageous blather.

Mr. Ashbys’ story, under the title “Medical pot question makes Palisade ballot”, starts with a false claim in the headline and gets worse from there. Quoting the story;

A Palisade group seeking to have the Grand Valley’s last remaining marijuana dispensary banned announced Tuesday evening that Palisade Town Clerk, Carol Speakman, has certified a ballot question to do just that.

trouble is… tain’t true McGee.

 

I received this in an e-mail from the town of Palisade:

The Town of Palisade announced today that petitions containing 187 signatures seeking voter approval of a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries have been received.  Contrary to recent media reports, the signatures have not yet been validated.  In an article in the June 22, 2011 edition of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel it was reported that a group named Safe and Healthy announced that Palisade Clerk, Carol Speakman has certified a ballot question to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in Palisade.  This is incorrect.

Perhaps, Charles, when Ms. Speakman didn’t return your call, you should have waited a while to print your story. Had you done some research, you would know that Diane Cox is not a registered voter in Palisade. There are numerous claims that SHE has been circulating petitions, which would, of course, render every signature she personally collected invalid. But since you chose to quote ONLY Ms. Cox in your story, I guess you decided that none of her claims deserved investigating.

For example, Diane Cox’s claim that “the existing marijuana shop was allowed to open through an ’emergency meeting’ of of only three (town)board members with no public hearing or input” is vigorously denied by the owners of the facility, Mr. and Mrs. Loughman.

But then…isn’t the reporter supposed to check on these things, BEFORE he submits the story? It almost seems you let her write the story for you.

  Even that is not the most egregious “boo-boo” in this troubled little story.

This gem is a classic;

Cox said Palisade residents who signed the petition said a dispensary in town would detract from the citys’ image as the state’s peach capital  

She said, they said…really? Did all of them say it? Only one? Maybe none? How is this unassuming little storefront going to destroy Palisade? How is this journalism, Mr. Ashby? How can you write a story about an issue of great importance to many people and not challenge, or even question, the assertions of a screeching zealot?

With all due respect, Mr. Ashby, I have a suggestion. Why don’t you visit the dispensary and talk to the Loughmans? Get their response to Diane Coxs’ assertions. While you are there, you can speak to some of the cancer patients who come to get the medication that allows them to withstand the horror of chemotherapy. Or perhaps you will meet the local businessman who finally found a way to control his debilitating headaches, a result of a severe neck injury.

Maybe you could go sit down with the town leaders in Palisade

Town of Palisade

970.464.5602

tsarmo@townofpalisade.org

and ask them why they chose to give the Loughmans a corporate citizenship award. I guess they aren’t too worried about the dispensary ” detracting from the cities’ image as the states’ peach capital”.

It is truly disappointing to see the lazy reporting displayed here. I didn’t realize Harmon was contagious.

 

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Cannabis hating crusader not welcomed in Palisade

At the Palisade, CO Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday of this past week, Mesa counties’ “Marijuana Avenger”, Diane Cox (no..we are NOT related) ran into a town that simply didn’t want to hear her hyped-up and reprehensible attack on the folks who run the local Cannabis dispensary.

As many readers will know, Mesa County, Grand Junction, and Fruita have, in one way or another, banned Cannabis dispensaries. Diane Cox, the self-appointed banner carrier of the “We Hate Weed” police, likes to take credit for being a force in shutting down dispensaries. She uses a shameless set of distortions, insinuations, and outright lies to paint a picture of dispensary owners as predatory, money-grubbing, dope-dealers. The one remaining dispensary in the Grand Valley is in Palisade, and her attack on that establishment and its’ owners may backfire on Ms. Cox.

     

 Earlier on that day, Tuesday, a local television station aired an interview with our favorite pot-hating crusader. During the interview, she warned TV viewers that these business owners were bad people who are responsible for increased truancy and drug use in our local schools. That charge has been refuted by the local police and the local high school principal, but when did facts ever get in the way of what zealots believe?

So…riding high on her wave of outrage, Ms. Cox showed up at the Palisade Trustees’ meeting, where the owners of Colorado Alternative Health Care, Mr. and Mrs. Loughman, were being presented with a letter of thanks and appreciation for their outstanding corporate citizenship and for all the city projects they have organized volunteers to accomplish. I am certain it was Ms. Coxs’ intention to make a statement during the proceedings.

What she did not anticipate, I think, was a room full of supporters of the Loughmans and their business. It did not encourage her when the chairman of the Board of Trustees made a comment to the audience and the TV camera there, disapproving of Mrs. Coxs’ earlier comments on TV and flatly informing her that the Town of Palisade does not view Colorado Alternative Health Care in the same light as she. In so many words, he essentially told her, “we don’t want to hear it, Diane”.

After the presentation (and numerous rounds of hearty applause for the Loughmans) the TV cameraman followed Mr. Loughman outside for an interview. With no TV camera to assail during the required public comment period and a room full of unsympathetic ears, Ms. Cox folded her tent and went away quietly.

What Mrs. Cox encountered was a community of people who are not buying into the kneejerk point of view that casts Cannabis as some sort of “evil” thing. Of course, there have been a number of “dope dealers” who opened store fronts to deal drugs. They have been and will continue to be weeded out as groups like CCHPAA (Cannabis Consumer Health and Patient Advocacy Association) continue to work with responsible caregivers and health professionals to design the models that will best serve Colorados MMJ patients.

It is always gratifying to see loud-mouthed zealots put in their place. The steadfast support of the people of Palisade and the town government for the Loughmans’ and their business managed to shut up one of the most vociferous critics of this rapidly growing industry. It will take years and many good minds to transform the Medical Cannabis industry into a mature, well-designed, and consistent enterprise.

The hyperbolic, unfounded criticisms and attacks dished out by truly ignorant sycophants like Diane Cox are not helpful. And in Palisade, at least, not well tolerated.

update: as an afterthought to this diary, I thought it appropriate to establish that I attended the trustees’ meeting at the recommendation of and in the company of the president of the above mentioned group, CCHPAA. I will be happy to be recognized as a shill for the organization and its’ mission.

Medical Cannabis patients are caught between the free market and the black market. The only leverage they have are grass roots activism and sympathetic communities. It will take many organizations on the grass roots level to support the lengthy process of building a responsible delivery system for medical Cannabis. The ignorance and archaic attitudes displayed by those who resort to name calling and fear mongering should be ignored. They are from the 1930s. Time to give it a rest.

     

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Oh, What a tangled web we weave…

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

As I walked over to the counter I immediately spotted it lying there . It was a response from congressman Scott Tipton to a letter sent to him by my wife. It was, in sum, a gratuitous, patronizing piece of claptrap.

She had written him asking him to support landowners, small communites, and water drinkers in general, by supporting legislation that would require natural gas and oil companies to reveal what they are injecting into the ground during the hydraulic fracturing process. Unless you just flew in on the midnight flight from Mars, you know that the poisonous soup some companies use (in prodigious quantities, I might add) to facilitate their profit picture is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act…and the Clean Water Act…and a number of others. They don’t have to reveal anything to anyone.

By the time I had finished the second paragraph, the familiar old “you lying jerk” response had started  to kick in…well, you decide for yourself;

Environmental stewardship is one of my top priorities, and I encourage the EPA to carry out this task in a responsible manner.

For one thing, I didn’t know “stewardship” was a synonym for “exploitation”…live and learn. And I guess he just forgot to include the rest of that last phrase;

“I encourage the EPA to carry out this task in a responsible manner”…after I cut their budget in half.

The rest of the letter was filled with the usual corporatist rhetoric Tipton is instructed to use. A few tasty samples:

…common sense has been lost in a regulatory process that has become politicized and wrought with bureaucracy and overlap.

maybe that should say…”wrought with bribery and overreach”

job killing regulation of carbon emissions

I guess he believes the only thing in this country that doesn’t kill jobs is tax cuts for the rich.

EPA regulations run counter to free market principles…

but massive subsidies and no bid contracts don’t?

cannot continue down this path of overregulation.

Well…that’s just stupid.

It was, though, in the third paragraph of the letter that I read the item that set me off and prompted this diary and the title. The letter says;

According to a 2010 Small Business Administration report, the economic burden of regulation on the American people totals 1.75 trillion dollars annually. That number piqued my interest. “How the hell do they know that”, I wondered? Sooo..I did a little checking.

That number comes from a report written by Nicole V. Crain and W. Mark Crain, who are professors at Lafayette College in Easton Pennsylvania. Their report is evaluated by Sidney Shapiro of the Center for Progressive Reform who says:

Upon examination, it turns out that the estimate is the result of secret calculations, an unreliable methodology and a presentation calculated to mislead.

comparing the SBA report to the 2009 report from the Office of Management and Budget, he states:

The 2009 OMB report, based on data from federal agencies under the Bush and Clinton Administrations, found that in the ten years ending in 2008 annual regulatory costs ranged from $62 billion to $73 billion (converted from 2001 into 2009 dollars).

The Crains only overestimated by $1,677,000,000,000.

Mr. Shapiro goes on to eviscerate the Crains’ report:

A new report today by the Center for Progressive Reform (Setting the Record Straight: The Crain and Crain Report on Regulatory Costs) shows that much more is at work than that.   In areas where the OMB and Crain and Crain calculations overlap, Crain and Crain use the same cost data as OMB, but, unlike OMB, which presents regulatory costs as a range, Crain and Crain always adopt the upper end of the range for inclusion in their calculations. More significant, Crain and Crain’s calculations for the regulations not covered by OMB’s report appear to be based largely on a decidedly unusual data source for economists – public opinion polling, the results of which Crain and Crain massage into a massive, but unsupported estimate of the costs of “economic” regulations.  Because Crain and Crain have refused to make their underlying data or calculations public.

 I recommend you read the entire article at the CPR website;

   http://www.progressivereform.o…

But now…to the fun part.

As I continued my investigation, I discovered the Crains’ cite a study by Joseph M. Johnson, among others, the googling of which leads to the American Enterprise Institute…surprised? It gets better.

The name that comes up at the link I googled was Veronique de Rugy, a right wing mouthpiece for, among other groups, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. It seems Mr. Johnson also has a long affiliation with the Mercatus Center. The Mercatus Center is a hard right wing think tank that has received, since 1997, nearly ten million dollars from…wait for it…Koch Industries. Charles Koch is a board member.

 

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Scott Walker…Class Warrior.

Yesterday, I commented on another thread, calling Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, “mealy-mouthed”…among other epithets. Lest some readers think this an unfair evaluation of Gov. Walker, I submit the definition of the word:

avoiding the use of direct and plain language

I will give him this. He is an automaton when it comes to staying on message. Here is the man who would be king, an ideological warrior with a raging fire in his belly. This is an ego out of control. Can you say “megalomaniac”? It is not uncommon that ambitious zealots will kick honesty and integrity under the rug with their toe without hesitation. Walker is such a zealot. He is focused.

“Here’s our problem” he confidently states. His unshakable certitude leading the way into a lecture about the inability of government to survive the “cost” of collective bargaining. He speaks with assurance and determination. He knows that, if he keeps repeating his misdirection, many will grow to believe him. But what he says doesn’t really address the problem. It isn’t designed to do so. It is a script designed to demonize unions and collective bargaining.

As is typical of a “Republican Robot Message Machine”, he repeats some of his well rehearsed talking points several times. The “real issue” he says, is the Democratic Senators that have fled the state. This, of course, is not the real issue, it is simply another red herring.

The real issue is whether or not he can fulfill his stated mission of breaking the public unions, while simultaneously changing the rules of government to allow him sole discretion to sell public property to anyone he chooses for any amount. Won’t the Koch brothers be grateful for a rock bottom deal on all those power plants?

But the give-away of Walkers’ core mission came out somewhere deep into the interview, tossed out casually by Walker…and completely missed by NBCs’ David Gregory.

While rattling through an indictment of the missing Democratic Senators, Walker let slip this intention (loosely quoted):

After the Democrats come back and do their duty, within three weeks we will pass an aggressive bill that will tell the world that Wisconsin is open for business.

“Open for business” is a catch phrase that means…”gut regulations, cut all corporate taxes, cut taxes for the wealthy, slash public spending on social programs, enrich the private sector with no-bid, “sweetheart” deals…everything you would expect from your garden variety corporate toad.

Here lies your “real” issue. The swashbuckling, free market pirate that now sits as governor of Wisconsin, is determined to be a leader in the extremist conservative movement that intends to hobble government and its’ ability to tax and regulate the corporate plutarchy. His delusions of being the next “Reagan” are almost scary. He is a dangerous man.

The relentless movement by the multinational corporations (as represented by political groups with billions to spend on elections) aims to move this nation to third world status. This is class warfare by the uber-rich, make no mistake about it. And Scott Walker wants to be their champion.

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HB1223: Have henhouse…need fox.

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Recently elected Colorado representative Ray Scott, in keeping with a tradition among western slope Republican legislators, has now performed his first rite of passage. He has introduced his first “whatever the oil and gas industry lobby wants me to do” bill. His dance partner in the senate is the ever dapper, “King of the double dip”, himself, Senator Steve King.

HB1223 would revert the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to the make-up that existed before the passage and implementation of HB1341, back in 2007…effectively repealing that bill. In effect, the Republicans are trying to give the keys to the henhouse back to the fox, by recreating an industry dominated panel.

The current make-up of the commission includes voices from several different stakeholders. Only three of the nine members of todays’ panel may be employed by the industry. One must represent local communities. Another is an environmental specialist. Yet another, a rancher with mineral rights.

When you include the directors of both the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, you get a pretty balanced point of view. Senator King and Rep. Scott would have you believe that balance is a bad thing…but it is not.

The previous commission was made up of seven members, five of whom were REQUIRED to be involved in the O&G business. The voices represented by all the other stakeholders ,mentioned above, were, when rarely heard, routinely ignored. The COGCC amounted to little more than a country club for O&G guys and the legislators that carry their water.

The natural gas industry has been taking it on the chin a bit lately due to the amazing greed with which they have overproduced their commodity. Natural gas prices are still languishing near $4.00/mcf, while oil prices continue their rapid ascent, further dulling incentive to “drill the living daylights” out of Colorados’ gas fields. Even so, natural gas production has increased the past three consecutive years, as have permit application numbers. The industry is healthy.

This bill yearns for the “good ol’ days when the O&G industry was allowed to do “whatever is reasonable”…and they decided what was reasonable. To my knowledge, there have been no significant complaints about the fairness and balance of the present commission and I trust Governor Hickenlooper will not forget those “other” voices that have a stake in Colorados’ energy future. Voices of the wind, the waterfall, the wild Elk and the Sage Grouse. The voices of our childrens’ children.

Thousands of Coloradoans worked and sacrificed to create a truly exceptional set of O&G development regulations and crafted a balanced and efficient board to implement them. Leave it like it is, it ain’t broke.  

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A Change of Heart?

( – promoted by redstateblues)

Is it a change of heart… or just a change of tactics? On Thursday, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), in a joint press release with the Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), announced they were withdrawing their lawsuit against the new oil and gas rules. For the people, communities, and environment of Colorado, this is really good news. It means the oil and gas industry has finally given up on “repealing” the new guidelines.

From the beginning, there were voices within the oil and gas industry that did not join the howls of protest emanating from the oil and gas lobby and the Republican Caucus. Those voices were from those who could see that companies which were already using “best management practices” could actually benefit from the new regulatory process, while the “wildcatters” and the companies with a penchant for pollution would be held accountable. It is to the credit of those moderate leaders within COGA and the Colorado Petroleum Association (CPA) that they seem to have finally understood that a rejection of the rules in their entirety was not going to happen.

The well-groomed and well-paid army of O&G lobbyists, and the legislators that serve them, will continue, I am certain, to assault the rules and the commissioners on a piecemeal basis, and whenever possible, they will spend millions to unseat any politician who opposes their agenda. Some things never change, but this announcement is important because it signals a shifting of tactics by the natural gas industry.  Facing overwhelming public support for the new rules and an apparently resolute Democratic Governor and Senate, not to mention a very weak case in court, the O&G folks have decided to bank their hopes on convincing America that natural gas is, somehow, an environmentally responsible, “clean” fuel. That, of course, is not true.

Tisha Conoly Schuller, the new President and CEO of COGA includes in the press release a comment concluding, “the importance of Colorado natural gas in reducing air pollution,”…well…not exactly. While it is true that natural gas burns cleaner than coal, she does not take the massive amount of methane, nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and a host of other noxious gases introduced into the atmosphere where the gas is taken from the ground.

While, as a result of last years’ Clean Air, Clean Jobs bill (HR1365), the front range may benefit from reduced emissions at three power plants, the gas patches that produce the gas will see dramatically elevated levels of pollution, including elevated levels of ozone.

Consider the following from a Propublica article released recently;

“The EPA’s new analysis doubles its previous estimates for the amount of methane gas that leaks from loose pipe fittings and is vented from gas wells, drastically changing the picture of the nation’s emissions that the agency painted as recently as April. Calculations for some gas-field emissions jumped by several hundred percent. Methane levels from the hydraulic fracturing of shale gas were 9,000 times higher than previously reported.

When all these emissions are counted, gas may be as little as 25 percent cleaner than coal, or perhaps even less.

Billions of cubic feet of climate-changing greenhouse gases-roughly the equivalent of the annual emissions from 35 million automobiles-seep from loose pipe valves or are vented intentionally from gas production facilities into the atmosphere each year, according to the EPA. Gas drilling emissions alone account for at least one-fifth of human-caused methane in the world’s atmosphere, the World Bank estimates, and as more natural gas is drilled, the EPA expects these emissions to increase dramatically.”

These findings, along with the work done by Dr.Robert Howarth, an environmental biology professor at Cornell University, indicate the rosy picture painted by natural gas advocates (and investors) is significantly in error.

“Dr.Howarth used research from the United Nations to calculate that if methane’s potency were more appropriately considered over 20 years, rather than the100 years used by the EPA, it would be 72 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in terms of its warming potential.

Figured that way, the climate effect of methane from natural gas would quickly outpace the climate effect of carbon dioxide from burning coal. Howarth’s research is incomplete and has been criticized because at first he failed to figure in methane emissions from coal mining. But he said that after correcting his error, the emissions from coal barely changed, and the data still showed that the intensity of methane could erase the advantages of using natural gas.

“Even small leakages of natural gas to the atmosphere have very large consequences,” Howarth wrote in a March memorandum [2], which he says is a precursor to a more thorough study that could begin to scientifically answer these questions. “When the total emissions of greenhouse gases are considered … natural gas and coal from mountaintop removal probably have similar releases, and in fact natural gas may be worse in terms of consequences on global warming.”

With the help of millions of dollars to buy non-stop television ads touting everything from drilling techniques to algae farms, the O&G industry is working to convince America that our future is safe in the hands of the people who brought you the Deepwater Horizon disaster, among many others. Misleading the public with vague generalities and, sometimes, flagrant mendacity has been the modus operandi of the American Petroleum Institute (API) for a very long time. A case in point is the most recent claim by the “lady in the black pantsuit” that the natural gas industry “fuels” 9.2 million jobs. Fuels? An intentionally vague term, meaning just about anything the industry message jockeys want it to mean.

The fact is, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people employed in both oil and gas extraction, as of Jan 2011, was 161,500; a far cry from the 9.2 million the industry supposedly “fuels”. If you include the waitresses  and supermarket clerks in every gas industry town in the nation, throw in all the refinery workers, truck drivers, and associated jobs you can imagine…you might get to a million or so. That is certainly a significant number, but apparently, the message managers at the API don’t think that number is impressive…so they lie.

The desperation that drives them to such prevarication is their burning desire to create a bigger market for the product they habitually over produce. One thing they don’t lie about is the abundance of natural gas…the stuff seems to be almost everywhere. They know the profits that await when natural gas hits $12/mcf (12 dollars per thousand cubic feet). But in order to drive up the price, they need to expand their market.

From the Propublica article:

“The natural gas industry…has pressed hard for subsidies and guarantees that would establish gas as an indispensible source of American energy and create a market for the vast new gas reserves discovered in recent years. The industry would like to see new power plants built to run on gas, automobile infrastructure developed to support gas vehicles and a slew of other ambitious plans that would commit the United States to a reliance on gas for decades to come.

But if it turns out that natural gas offers a more modest improvement over coal and oil, as the new EPA data begin to suggest, then billions of dollars of taxpayer and industry investment in new infrastructure, drilling and planning could be spent for limited gain.

“The problem is you build a gas plant for 40 years. That’s a long bridge,” said James Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, one of the nation’s largest power companies. Duke generates more than half of its electricity from coal, but Rogers has also been a vocal proponent of cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Rogers worries that a blind jump to gas could leave the country dependent on yet another fossil resource, without stemming the rate of climate change.

“What if, with revelations around methane emissions, it turns out to be only a 10 or 20 percent reduction of carbon from coal? If that’s true,” he said, “gas is not the panacea.”

To continue to subsidize and expand markets for this dirty, finite fossil fuel over other, clean, sustainable options is complete folly. The next industries to provide Americas’ energy future should utilize those sources of energy that can sustain us as long as the sun shines and the winds blow. We have no time to waste.

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Dear Governor Hickenlooper,

(Quite moving – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Dear Governor,

Congratulations on becoming our new governor, and thank you for stepping up to the task. Your job as the states’ new CEO must be as rewarding as it is challenging. The opportunity to help our fellow citizens is an honor, and you have a chance to profoundly affect the future of Colorado and its’ people.

I chose the term “CEO” for a reason. You have made it clear that one of your priorities as governor is to let the Chamber of Commerce know that you are, if not their BFF, at least “friendly” to them. I suppose it was this eagerness to appear agreeable to the captains of industry that led you to use the expression “drill the living daylights out of” when discussing your plans for natural gas exploration in Colorado. I am confident I don’t have to explain what that rhetoric means to the people living in Colorados’ many gas patches.

Governor, you are a petroleum geologist. The impact that natural gas extraction has on the world around us is something you know quite well. But how much time have you spent getting to know the people who subsidize this giant industry with their land values, their health, and their hopes and dreams? There are many winners in a gas play. But there are also losers. It is for those losers I wish to speak.

We want you to get to know us. We want you to come and walk where we walk and see what we see and smell what we smell. We want you to experience the thrill of a close encounter with a speeding water truck…or a well fire within a few hundred feet from our homes.  Let us show you some of the “well sites time forgot”. Come and taste our water.

Colorado has a “natural capital” that is inestimable. It will, if protected, provide for countless generations of Coloradoans to come. Our beautiful state also is blessed with a “human capital” that has always given Colorado an ability to be reflective and resilient on its’ path into the future. The intrusion by natural gas development on our wildlife, our clean water and air, the health of our citizens, and the quiet enjoyment of our private property is well documented. The need for common sense protections for these fundamentals of a quality lifestyle is obvious. The question is…will you continue to protect them?

The policies and initiatives of Governor Ritter have been under attack by special interests since he took office. But Governor Ritter decided to stand with the powerless, to speak for the helpless, and to care for those who were harmed by the relentless rush of this invasive industry. The new GOGCC regulations are a watershed accomplishment. Restructuring the makeup and balance of the new commission has proven to be an invaluable step toward achieving equity and justice in the gas field, all while the natural gas industry continues to grow.

The new rules, the legislature that demanded them, the people who worked so hard to design and implement them…even the commissioners that are charged with enforcing them…are there because the people of Colorado needed and wanted them. The ranchers, the sportsmen, the fishermen, the small town mayors, the outdoor enthusiasts, the split estate land owners, the thousands and thousands of Coloradoans who spoke up for our land, our water, our health…our future.

I have a simple request, Governor Hickenlooper. Please, don’t forget us.    

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Can’t catch a break? Try whining.

(see “market” and “externality”

also NIMBY, IMBY, and, of course “mitigate” – promoted by MADCO
)

Things are really heating up in Garfield County.  It appears the O&G industry has decided that now is the time to counter-attack against the liberals who managed to fight off some of the excesses of the Princes of Petroleum.

Local attorney, Scott Balcomb, whose law firm represents Antero Resources, is also a developer of subdivisions, gravel pits, and has significant interests in natural gas where Antero is drilling. Scott is the latest industry toad singing that same tired old song about regulations running the industry out of town.

Now that they will have a friendly audience, with the replacement of Tresi Houpt by yet another Republican “good ol’ boy”, you can bet that the Garco commissioners hearing room will light up with rig-huggers weeping and gnashing their teeth in horror at the burden of the new COGCC rules, Garcos’ intervention in Anteros’ spacing request (they want to quadruple density on Silt Mesa)  ..and then there is that thing in Battlement Mesa (more later on that).  

Mr. Balcomb minced no words, claiming the O&G industry will not return until the governments involved back off and get out of their way. The county has requested formally of the COGCC that it require Antero to mitigate any negative impacts, if it allows the density increase.

This simple phrase…”mitigate any negative impacts”…drives the industry money boys wild, the cost of that mitigation coming out of their pockets.  

It is their firm belief that negative impacts of Anteros’ activities should be borne by those affected…not the mutli-gazillion dollar company making the profit.

The other issue that has Anteros’ collective panties in a giant wad, is what to do about Battlement Mesa. A fiery group of Battlement Mesa residents are standing up to Antero, the county, and those at the state who still seem to take their plight a bit too casually.

Antero, in their desire to drill 200 gas wells within the town limits, probably did not anticipate the intelligence and backbone possessed by the folks from the Battlement Concerned Citizens group. They are putting up a hell of a fight.

All in all, Antero resources just can’t catch a break. Everywhere they want to go to crap on somebody elses’ life for profit, someone seems to object.

What’s a poor corporation to do? Try whining…that might work.

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How much longer?

(Bumped from Tuesday’s diaries – promoted by Colorado Pols)

I just got an e-mail with an interesting story from John Colson of the Glenwood Springs paper.

A family on Silt Mesa, near the town of Silt Colorado, has become the most recent case of serious medical issues suffered by people in close proximity to natural gas drilling. Beth Strudleys’ doctor told her that she should take her family and leave their home. A few weeks ago one of her children started suffering nosebleeds, rashes and began having blackouts.

Now other family members are starting to have similar symptoms. Recently, her doctor told her he suspects exposure to chemicals is the cause.

How much longer is this going to continue before the people of Colorado put a stop to this, once and for all? This system of denial and lack of accountability will continue until the voters of Colorado make it clear to the COGCC, the Governor, and the legislature that the public has a right to know what chemicals are being put into the ground. The O&G industry has always hidden behind the mantle of proof…which cannot be accomplished because the government doesn’t make them tell us WHAT they pump into the earth.

 My wife and I left Silt Mesa three years ago. I knew a little bit more about what was coming than most folks. I tried to warn our neighbors… but, money talks louder than reason.

The event that settled our decision was the letter we received from our family doctor, informing us he was moving his family to Vermont because he didn’t think Rifle would ever again be a healthy place to live. I guess he reasoned there isn’t much gas to be found in granite.

In her comments to the Garfield County Commissioners, Mrs. Strudley brought up the recent death of former Rifle resident, Chris Mobaldi, who died a few weeks ago from her third pituitary tumor. Many people, including the Mobaldis’ physician, believe Chris was sickened by a poorly maintained gas well across the road from their house.  

I have made no secret of my anger and outrage at the callous treatment of Colorados’ citizens by some, I repeat, SOME, of the players in this gas patch. Antero, at one time, seemed to be on a path that led to a better relationship with the Rifle/Silt/ New Castle Community. I am disappointed in their response.

But it was the response of the Garco commissioners that is most telling about the way the Rig-hugging Repubs of Garfield County handle such things. They chose to not say a thing…except… NEXT!

 

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please…

I guess the purpose of these diaries is to express our thoughts and feelings in order to share and discuss them with others…

This isn’t necessarily political…but then, it might be.

I am currently visiting my mother, who lives in Texas. She remarked to me yesterday that this was “the best Christmas I can remember”. The reason for her particular joy was the realization of a long standing prayer… All five of her kids were with her in her church for services on Christmas day. What a joyous time.

My mom is 78 years old, so this a big deal to her. And to be with all my siblings at once is a very rare treat for me, as well.

But this early morning, as I sit alone while the rest of my family sleeps, I cannot help but contrast that joy with the sorrow contained in the simple comment the open thread by Pols user “nancycronk”, regarding the fatal auto crash in Texas.

What an awful tragedy. One of countless others but all the more notable, perhaps , because it comes at a time of year when we are most hopeful for happiness and peace. Incidents like this remind us all of the fragility of our lives.

I must admit to being a bit overcome with emotion myself as I contemplated Nancys’ heartfelt statement. In the last few days, I have been listening to some very sad stories from my extended family about their struggles with survival in “the New Corporate Economy”. It is deeply troubling.

Taken altogether…it can be overwhelming. The world doesn’t seem to make sense. Fear…selfishness…anger…wars…disasters…and on and on. It seems, sometimes, as though there is no hope for us…That pain and suffering and economic decline are inevitable. That peace is impossible…that happiness is vanishing from the landscape.

But then, I recall the glow on my Moms’ face, standing in the pew with ALL of her children…the easy laughter of my brothers and sister as we wasted an evening playing poker at Moms’ kitchen table. The outpouring of welcome and generosity from my Moms’ friends and neighbors.

And so…now that I have regained my composure, I want to ask each of you to consider one simple request…

please…

just love one another…please.  

 

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