It is Really Hot Outside, and It’s Only Getting Hotter

If you’re still arguing about the validity of Climate Change, you must not get outside all that often.

As Kirk Mitchell writes for the Denver Post, this is a good time to be an air conditioning salesman:

The Mile High City tied an all-time heat record in June and hovered around 100 degrees, topping out at 98, on Thursday,  according to National Weather Service forecasters.

Had temperatures reached 100 Thursday, it would have marked the third time this year that we sweltered in triple-digit heat. By comparison, temperatures only reached 100 twice between 1910 and 1920, NWS meteorologist Bernie Meier said…

…On Thursday, Denver surpassed 90 degrees for the 35th day this year, a pace slightly ahead of the hottest year in the city’s recorded history in 2012.

July 20 is typically the hottest day of the year in Denver, but it looks like we won’t be breaking a new single-day temperature mark today — not that it would be a surprise if it happened. Denver has reached temperatures as hot as 105 degrees just four times in recorded history — all since 2005 — and the last 105 degree day came on June 28 this year. NWS chief meteorologist Nazette Rydell tells Mitchell that the June 28 temperature record is “the story of the year.”

Here are a few more troubling numbers related to rising temperatures:

Already this year, eight daily high temperature records have fallen or been tied, according to NWS data. Record highs were set April 12 (79 degrees), April 29 (83), May 10 (90), May 25 (91), June 5 (95), June 6 (95), June 9 (95) and June 28 (105)…

…Denver isn’t the only location undergoing a heat wave. Much of the world had one the warmest Junes in history, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. [Pols emphasis]

No, Mr. President, we can’t “invade” the sun.

As we’ve said before in this space, arguing about the existence of Climate Change is kind of like trying to prove that water isn’t wet. The only “debate” left on the subject is about the extent to which humans are causing these extreme changes, though more than 97% of scientific experts are 100% convinced that this is absolutely a people problem.

The other three percent of scientists seem to have an undue influence with the Trump administration. As NBC News reported earlier this week:

Reports of climate science being scrubbed from U.S. government websites arrived early in President Donald Trump’s tenure. And the hits keep coming. From the Environmental Protection Agency, to the Energy Department, to the State Department and beyond, references to climate change, greenhouse gases and clean energy keep disappearing.

But even as some corners of the Trump administration sow a cyber garden fertile for the fossil fuel industry, a pair of websites funded by the federal government have proclaimed an unvarnished view of the dangers of carbon-driven climate change.

The two sites, Climate.gov and CLEANet.org, have expanded to more than 700 entries and collectively drew more than 68,000 page views in May, a more than 50 percent increase from the year before. And the lessons delivered by the two sites — about the threat posed by a planet warmed by human actions — extends well beyond that core audience. That’s because both sites are aimed at teachers, who say they use the taxpayer-supported websites to create lessons on everything from increasing CO2 levels to threatened biodiversity to the potential of solar power.

Meanwhile, people around the world are suffering from extreme temperatures. At least 14 people have died in Tokyo because of record highs. Sweltering heat is punishing Texas and the South-Central United States. California is bracing for another heat wave next week that is forecasted to create temperatures as much as 18 degrees above normal for several days. And lest we forget: There are wildfires currently burning in the freaking Arctic Circle!!!

Use lots of sunscreen, wear a hat, and drink plenty of water. And start thinking harder about supporting politicians who aren’t pretending that this isn’t happening.

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Trump’s EPA, Colorado Springs’ Pollution: Dirty Deeds Afoot?

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

A story published Friday by the Colorado Springs Independent, a frequent source for the straight dope on happenings along the Ronald Reagan Highway when the Phil Anschutz-owned newspaper of record for that city turns a blind eye, is causing considerable concern among Colorado Springs’ neighbors to the south along the city’s principal drainage Fountain Creek. It’s a situation we’re discussed a number of times as Pueblo has sought to hold the Springs accountable for unchecked stormwater and sewage pollution surging into Fountain Creek–but under Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency, the story may be taking a sinister turn:

Despite protests from fellow plaintiffs, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to revisit a possible settlement with the city Colorado Springs over alleged Clean Water Act violations caused by the city’s longterm neglect of stormwater management, according to documents obtained by the Independent.

The renewed negotiations come as U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch scheduled an August trial in the lawsuit on May 22, the day after the state’s lead attorney in the case was reportedly fired for a reason the Colorado Attorney General’s Office won’t discuss.

Margaret “Meg” Parish, first assistant attorney general in the Natural Resources & Environment Section, wrote several scathing letters to the EPA in recent months, calling the EPA’s action “shocking and extraordinary” and expressing “deep concern and disappointment” that the agency would unilaterally reopen settlement discussion without consulting co-plaintiffs. Besides the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), those include Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

The move was particularly alarming, she noted, because the state and EPA had signed an agreement in which both agreed not to communicate with the city without the presence of the other.

The EPA is a lead plaintiff in the long-running litigation over Colorado Springs’ pollution of Fountain Creek, obviously possessing resources local municipalities do not have–especially smaller, poorer communities like Pueblo versus Colorado Springs–to force polluters to work in good faith to clean themselves up. What’s happening here could be interpreted as an end run around the upcoming trial, allowing Colorado Springs to settle on terms vastly more favorable to the city than the trial would likely produce. It follows a request last year by GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn for the EPA to drop the lawsuit entirely.

What changed between the EPA working in good faith with Pueblo and other downstream communities to hold Colorado Springs accountable for stormwater and sewage pollution? Donald Trump became President, appointing the most controversially permissive EPA administrator in the agency’s history in Scott Pruitt. The recent completion of the Southern Delivery System, which pipes Arkansas River water north to Colorado Springs, facilitates future growth in Colorado Springs while increasing the treated sewage flows into Fountain Creek. And now you have the Republican city administration of Colorado Springs cozying up with this new EPA, seemingly in opposition to the parties the EPA was charged with assisting.

When Lamborn’s request to the EPA to terminate its involvement in the lawsuit agaist Colorado Springs was reported, Lamborn’s fellow Republican Rep. Scott Tipton who represents Pueblo stood up for his constituents–reminding Lamborn that “the lawsuit was filed by both the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a reason.”

Now that it appears the treachery is moving from the planning to the operational stages, it’s definitely time for Pueblo’s representative in Congress to throw down! If Tipton’s split loyalties between his constituents in Pueblo and his party allow Colorado Springs to escape accountability for polluting Fountain Creek, it’s a very serious problem for Tipton’s re-election.

However this situation resolves, it’s a hard lesson in how times have changed–and how elections matter.

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Former High-Level Employees Say Anadarko Ignored Safety Risks Prior to Firestone Explosion

In April 2017, this home in Firestone exploded, killing two people and severely injuring two others. Investigations later linked the explosion to oil and gas drilling operations.

The oil and gas industry has been spinning its wheels in the last year trying to flex its political muscle (that’s right, we just worked two cliches into one lede) as Colorado voters increasingly ignore the industry’s attempts at upgrading its image. And that was before new reports from an updated class-action lawsuit related to last year’s deadly explosion of a home in Firestone that casts Anadarko Petroleum Corporation in a particularly-evil glow.

We’ll explain how this may have a significant impact on the 2018 election in a moment. But first, here’s Blair Miller of Denver7 summarizing a growing story that was first reported by the Colorado Independent and the Denver Post:

Several former employees of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation say the company knew of safety risks involving thousands of its oil and gas wells in Colorado, but ignored the risks as it expanded operations here before a leaking pipeline exploded in Firestone, killing two people and injuring two more.

The claims were made in a November amended complaint in a class-action lawsuit filed in the U.S. Southern District Court of Texas, on which Denver7 first reported last year when it was filed.

But in the updated filing, six former employees of Anadarko, including some who worked in Colorado, claim that the company’s Colorado operations were a “ticking time bomb” and that when they told other company brass about concerns, those were brushed aside.

“I have no ax to grind. But, you know, people died, and it made everybody reevaluate whether this was the company they thought it was.”

— former Anadarko government relations executive Chris Castilian

Susan Greene of the Colorado Independent talked with several former Anadarko employees about Anadarko’s apparent negligence. Their comments are stunning. Former Anadarko government relations executive Chris Castilian — once a deputy chief of staff to Republican Gov. Bill Owens — is identified in the updated legal filing as “FE1” (“former employee #1). From the Colorado Independent:

…Castilian said the company didn’t inspect much more than “a tiny proportion” of the wells it acquired from Noble. He said executives were fully aware of the safety risks and made a spreadsheet ranking several hundred wells as risky and problematic. Even then, the complaint alleges, they were intent on keeping wells in production for financial reasons stemming partly from the fact that they lease most of the land on which Anadarko operates in Colorado. Contractually, most of those leases expire if the company isn’t using a well. So, as former employees tell it in the complaint, the company kept faulty wells in production to avoid having to renegotiate leases, presumably at much higher prices.

Castilian attended executive meetings at which these decisions were discussed and said executives overrode workers’ safety concerns by prioritizing repairs on wells and equipment that supported active production over repairing those closest to development. Citing him as a source, the lawsuit says that “A well’s potential safety risks, and whether it was located in a residential area or near a school, played no part in whether it was chosen for remediation.” [Pols emphasis]

Former Anadarko government and public affairs manager Robin Olsen is the person named “FE2” in the lawsuit, and her comments are equally damning. Again, from the Independent:

The lawsuit cites Olsen saying that one single employee was responsible for checking the safety of all of Anadarko’s flow lines in the Wattenberg Field in Weld County when there should have been 12 to 20 safety workers. It also cites her saying that she took environmental and safety concerns to her boss, Vice President for Corporate Communications John Christiansen, about 12 times between late 2016 and early 2017, warning him that there would be problems if the company didn’t address them.

In January 2017, an Anadarko well blew out of control, spilling 28,000 gallons of oil and wastewater near Hudson north of Denver. Executives blamed the spill on workers rather than on their own decisions to cut safety and repair efforts. The suit cites Olsen saying that Anadarko did not inform state regulators about key safety problems that led to the spill.

Also, according to the complaint, Olsen said Christiansen told her to “keep quiet” and that her job “was to shovel shit, and to clean up the messes” the company’s employees made. [Pols emphasis]

The Independent also talked to a former Anadarko safety manager, who wished to remain anonymous, who said “that he has struggled with anger, guilt, and anxiety since the Firestone blast, constantly wondering where else his crews didn’t have the resources to prevent disaster.” The former safety manager prays daily for the families impacted by the Firestone explosion and has often considered reaching out to Erin Martinez, a survivor of the blast.

“But what would I say? What would I tell (her)? That those tightwads in corporate couldn’t give a shit about the guys who worked on those wells or the people who lived near them?”

These are incredibly powerful comments that reflect horribly on Anadarko Petroleum and the oil and gas industry as a whole — an industry still reeling from the Firestone explosion and other subsequent spills and accidents that received plenty of press coverage. Oil and gas interests have long played a major role in Colorado politics — usually more aligned with Republican candidates — but that influence seemed to weaken after industry-backed candidates and ballot measures suffered heavy losses in the November 2017 elections (a trend that was confirmed with additional failures in April 2018).

Anadarko and Noble Energy are the primary investors in the public relations “organization” Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED), which has had a heavy-handed role in promoting oil-and-gas-friendly candidates in recent years. The industry is also putting a lot of money in support of Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Walker Stapleton, who pledged his undying support for oil and gas drilling in his campaign announcement last fall.

Christopher Osher of the Denver Post profiled CRED and the $80 million in political investments from the industry in a big story in July 2017. Castilian explained the idea behind CRED to the Colorado Independent as “purchasing a social license to operate in Colorado.” But the Firestone explosion and the subsequent lawsuits are changing the calculus for the oil and gas industry, which may now need to focus most of its attention on repairing a tattered reputation instead of trying to pull political levers.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 9)

Your taxes are due next Tuesday. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY… 

► Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress this week about the social media giant’s failures to protect against outside efforts to influence U.S. elections. From the New York Times:

When he goes before Congress this week, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, will issue a broad apology for letting the website be used as a conduit for fake news, election meddling by foreign entities, hate speech and privacy abuses, according to a copy of his testimony released on Monday.

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in comments published by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

Facebook is entering a week of intense scrutiny in Washington, with Mr. Zuckerberg scheduled to testify before congressional committees on Tuesday and Wednesday. The company is confronting a surge in criticism over how it handled the private data of as many as 87 million users that was harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm tied to President Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Zuckerberg’s testimony will likely further the storyline of Cambridge Analytica and its involvement in campaigns here in Colorado.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) narrowly avoided a Primary challenge when Roger Edwards failed to reach the 30% threshold for ballot access at Saturday’s CD-6 Republican assembly.

 

► To Trump, or not to Trump? That is the question for many Republican candidates in Colorado in 2018. It’s also a question for many Coloradans who voted for President Trump but worry now about their own business interests because of Trump’s trade war with China.

 

Republicans are growing increasingly concerned about potentially losing control of the House of Representatives in 2018 and may start directing more resources toward maintaining their thin majority in the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, Republican House leaders are jockeying to succeed Paul Ryan as Speaker amid growing rumors that the Wisconsin Republican will not seek re-election this fall.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Repealing Fuel Economy Standards–Because Trump Can!

Gas guzzlers.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan’s Jace Marmaduke reports on the latest head-scratcher from the Trump administration–a proposal from embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards:

The average Colorado household could miss out on up to $2,700 in gas savings by 2030 after a planned rollback of Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy standards, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists analysis.

Union of Concerned Scientists calculated a household’s potential savings if the standards were kept in place, even factoring in a potential increase in vehicle prices due to manufacturers updating models to meet the current federal standards.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt announced this week that he plans to relax the standards, which currently include an average fuel efficiency target of 54.5 mpg by 2025.

“The Obama administration’s determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in a press release. “Obama’s EPA cut the midterm evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality and set the standards too high.”

ThinkProgress explains the backstory:

In 2012, the Obama administration approved new auto emissions standards, with 2018 model year vehicles required to average 38.3 miles per gallon of gasoline and 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The 2025 target was set as part of a compromise reached between the Obama administration and the auto industry.

Environmental and energy efficiency groups accused Pruitt of siding with the fossil fuel industry by seeking to weaken the fuel efficiency standards…

“There’s no good reason for these standards to be sabotaged,” Evans said. The Alliance to Save Energy is a bipartisan alliance of business, government, environmental, and consumer groups that works to expand the economy while reducing energy consumption.

ThinkProgress reports that although the auto industry was good with these higher mileage standards when they were hashed out with the Obama administration, they’re just as happy with seeing them relaxed! As long as people keep buying cars, which we’re pretty sure under just about any foreseeable circumstance they will. After all, automakers won’t have to spend the money to improve their cars now. And while the oil and gas industry might say they’re all about efficiency, we suspect they’ll be just fine without it too.

Who loses? Well, who always loses when the the current generation stops caring about the next one?

But it’s okay, because Scott Pruitt–and Donald Trump–will be long gone.

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Pruitt Next To Get Pink-Slipped?

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The Hill reports, the Trump administration’s busy chopping block is once again on stand-by:

Two Florida GOP lawmakers on Tuesday called for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to either resign or be fired by President Trump.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) appeared to be the first Republican lawmaker to publicly request Pruitt’s dismissal. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) echoed his call shortly after.

In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, Curbello said Pruitt’s “corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the Administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers.”

“It’s time for him to resign or for [Trump] to dismiss him.”

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s latest strategy for beating the high cost of living reportedly involves the rental of a condo in Washington, D.C. for the decidedly sub-market rate of $50 a night. The condo just happens to be owned by the spouse of J. Steven Hart, the chairman of big-time energy lobbying firm Williams & Jensen. Especially for an administration that won office on the promise to “drain the swamp,” it’s about as swampy as arrangement as can be had.

And it’s just the latest in a series of ethical missteps for Pruitt, which included a taxpayer-funded junket to Colorado to record an ad for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in support of repealing Clean Water Act rules. Pruitt also chartered a costly private flight to Durango that he didn’t need, since Gov. John Hickenlooper was headed there in his executive Beech King Air and had offered Pruitt a seat.

In Donald Trump’s White House, the only unforgivable sin appears to be making the boss look bad. By that measure, Pruitt has got to be reaching the threshold for being put out to pasture. Replacing Pruitt is almost certain to be the environmental policy equivalent of John Bolton as national security adviser, meaning you’ll be wishing for Pruitt soon enough.

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Stay Classy, Jon Caldara (Die in a Fire Edition)

Early Wednesday afternoon, a large fire broke out at an apartment construction site in the Uptown neighborhood of Denver. It’s unknown as of yet how the fire started, but it quickly exploded into a three-alarm blaze that forced the evacuation of neighboring buildings, literally melted nearby parked cars, and resulted in two deaths and numerous injuries, including injuries to responding firefighters.

After the fires were under control, two bodies were pulled from the rubble, believed to be construction workers who were caught in the rapidly-spreading conflagration.

For some reason, Jon Caldara, the head of Colorado’s leading conservative advocacy group the Independence Institute thought Wednesday’s tragedy would be appropriate to use in a lame joke about climate change. It’s not the first time Caldara has crassly used local disasters as political punchlines, like back in 2013 when he faked an excuse about the deadly floods in September of that year to help him beat a charge of election fraud.

But once again we’re compelled to ask–who does this? And why does the entire press and political establishment in Colorado take someone who does this seriously? And don’t tell us you don’t. Caldara gets earned media on a regular basis, and local luminaries line up to appear on his mostly-unwatched cable access show.

We all deserve better, not least the conservatives for whom this asshole purports to speak.

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Mike Coffman Sure Knows How To Pick ‘Em

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports on the latest meta-scandal to hit Colorado Republicans since Donald Trump’s election–new questions about political moonlighting by locally-based appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency:

A group of U.S. House Democrats wants EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to explain why two of his employees were given permission to do outside political work while on the payroll of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The officials under scrutiny are John Konkus, who works in the public affairs office, and Patrick Davis, an EPA senior adviser in Denver and the former director of Donald Trump’s campaign in Colorado.

According to a letter sent Monday by the House Democrats, Davis was given approval in February 2017 to work as the sales director for a company called Telephone Town Hall Meeting, which does outreach for legislators, political campaigns and other causes.

Now, being a curious reader you might rightly wonder what the former Colorado campaign director for Donald Trump’s qualifications might be for the role of “senior adviser” at the EPA. After all, the EPA as it’s been known since its creation is…well, a little different than Trump’s vision. But as it turns out, you don’t have to look any further than Rep. Mike Coffman’s glowing recommendation of Patrick Davis:

In an April 17 letter to Pruitt, Coffman said Davis had applied for the job and that the congressman urged “your favorable consideration of Patrick for this important post within the EPA.”

Coffman said that Davis’ consulting work exposed him to the issues facing Region 8 and that he had built “thousands of relationships in the region,” ranging from governors and senators down to state legislators and mayors. Davis also built similar relationships in EPA due to his work as part of the beachhead team, according to Coffman.

Coffman also said Davis has “close alignment” with the Trump administration’s priorities.

“His record in this regard is well established and he is ideally suited and capable of communicating and carrying out President Trump’s and your priorities as the EPA Region 8 Regional Administrator,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

First off, knowing what we know today about Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s “priorities,” that says a mouthful!

But in Coffman’s case, Patrick Davis’ moonlighting scandal is doubly problematic. Back in 2007, then-Secretary of State Coffman stumbled into one of his more significant political scandals when his subordinate employee Dan Kopelman was found to be operating a voter data business on the side from his position as technology manager in the Elections Division. Coffman was forced to demote Kopelman under a heap of bad press, which thankfully for Coffman didn’t overly complicate his election to Congress the following year.

Doesn’t seem like Coffman learned his lesson, but each disgraced crony is a new opportunity.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 27)

Take a minute to give a polar bear a hug today. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Democrats in the State House are proposing a measure to expel Rep. Steve Lebsock from the legislature. We’ll update this story as more information becomes available.

 

► DACA recipients in Colorado are optimistic for the first time in months after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the Trump administration’s ruling from last fall. The Department of Homeland Security must continue to accept applications for DACA renewals beyond the March 5 date originally targeted as the end of the program.

 

► The United States Congress consistently polls as one of the most disliked organizations in the entire country. Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican majority:

Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress appear very wary of entering into a gun debate.

The House finishes work for the week this afternoon. The Senate GOP’s fast track effort to move a narrow, but bipartisan background check compliance bill was blocked Monday night, and the balance of the chamber’s week is scheduled to be spent on nomination votes.

Senate lawmakers in both parties are all over the map on what they want (or don’t want) to do.

Bottom line: If the first day back on Capitol Hill for lawmakers since the Parkland shooting was any indication, this time is not, in fact, different when it comes to the gun debate — at least so far.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan says that “We shouldn’t be banning guns for law-abiding citizens.” This is a completely nonsensical statement, since everybody is a law-abiding citizen until they commit a crime.

Change may not come as quickly as some might have hoped…but change is coming.

 

► As Attorney General Cynthia Coffman continues her quixotic efforts to win the Republican Gubernatorial nomination, she keeps running into more questions than answers.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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EPA Chief Says Climate Change is a GOOD Thing

The Trump administration has been blasting a firehose of bullshit for more than a year now. The sheer amount of complete nonsense emanating from Washington D.C. is so overwhelming at times that it is natural to want to shrug off a few untruths if only for the sake of preserving some level of sanity.

But not all of this nonsense can, or should, be ignored. For example, take a look at what Scott Pruitt — the freaking head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — recently told a Las Vegas news outlet about Climate Change. From the Washington Post:

Pruitt has repeatedly questioned the scientific consensus that rising levels of carbon dioxide from human-fueled activity are warming the planet.

He’s now taking a different tack: Even if climate change is occurring, as the vast majority of scientists say it is, a warmer atmosphere might not be so awful for humans, according to Pruitt. [Pols emphasis]

“We know humans have most flourished during times of what, warming trends,” Pruitt said Tuesday during an interview on KSNV, an NBC affiliate in Las Vegas.

If it gets too hot for you, just wear this hat!

Pruitt has regularly contradicted his own agency since taking over at the EPA early last year, but his comments on Climate Change have normally been about his disagreement over the role humans have played in warming the planet (nevermind that roughly 97% of the scientific community agrees that humans are causing Climate Change). But let’s set aside, for the moment, the argument over what or who is causing Climate Change; what is different here is Pruitt’s apparently growing belief that Climate Change may actually be good for humans!

Pruitt’s absurd statements on Climate Change may be largely supported by the White House, but even the Trump administration knows when one of its own has gone a bit too far off the edge. Just last Saturday, the White House withdrew the nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White to lead its Council on Environmental Quality after hearing a bit too much of Hartnett White’s claims that carbon dioxide is “the gas of life on this planet.” This probably doesn’t bode well for the hopes of another person rumored to be under consideration as the White House “science adviser.” As EE News reportsWill Happer is a strong proponent of the cockamamie theory that crops will benefit from Climate Change (though in one sense, plants probably would benefit from humans being dead).

To recap, the person in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency is saying publicly that Climate Change might be a good thing for humans. Really.

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Somebody please run against Jerry Sonnenberg

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jerry Sonnenberg is winding up his first term in the Colorado Senate. He is up for re-election in 2018, and no one has stepped up to run against him.  Sonnenberg ran unopposed for his first Senate term, and for all four of his previous House terms, until he was termed out in 2014.  No wonder he doesn’t return liberal constituent’s phone calls – he feels pretty safe ignoring their concerns. What are they going to do, run a Democrat against him?

Sonnenberg has referred to a fellow female Senator as”eye candy” and tweeted that he’d like to lube his assault rifle with “Obama tears”. He legislated against eminent domain for water pipelines, and for eminent domain for oil and gas companies. He sponsored legislation to prohibit protesting at oil  and gas sites, and he is a climate science denier.

In an excellent piece by Win the Fourth (WTF),  the author makes the case for fielding a Democrat to run against Sonnenberg.

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Annual Poll Shows Strong Disapproval for Trump Environmental Policies

From the annual Colorado College “Conservation in the West” poll.

New numbers are out from the eighth-annual “Conservation in the West” poll, which is conducted every year about this time via the Colorado College State of the Rockies Project, and the results once again show strong support for conservation/environmental policies in the Western United States.

Since it was first conducted in 2011, the “Conservation in the West” poll has consistently shown strong support for outdoor recreation and conservation policies in the Western United States. Even so, Western voters are more likely in 2018 to identify as “conservationist” than in 2016, and the poll suggests significant opposition to environmental policies enacted by the Trump administration. According to a press release:

Overall, voter approval for President Donald Trump and his administration’s handling of issues related to land, water and wildlife sits at 38 percent, with 52 percent disapproving. The administration’s approval rating on the issue was below 50 percent in every state surveyed—ranging from 34 percent in Nevada and New Mexico to 47 percent in Utah—with the exception of Wyoming.

Asked where the Trump administration should place its emphasis between protection and development, 64 percent of respondents said they prefer protecting water, air and wildlife while providing opportunities to visit and recreate on national public lands. That is compared to 23 percent of respondents who said they prefer the administration prioritize domestic energy production by increasing the amount of national public lands available for responsible drilling and mining.

Here in Colorado, 87% of voters believe that the outdoor recreation industry gives our state a significant economic advantage over other states, and 73% oppose efforts by the Trump administration to eliminate protections for national monuments. The oil and gas industry in Colorado has been getting significantly greater pushback in recent years from local communities, and last year’s deadly home explosion in Firestone might be a tipping point in that conversation as the 2018 election approaches. The oil and gas industry spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on efforts aimed at influencing local elections in 2017; by and large, those efforts were unsuccessful, which is troubling news for industry apologists as Colorado prepares to elect a new Governor.

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Outdoor Retailer Show Puts Anti-Environmental Pols on Notice

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

If this past weekend’s #PinkWave wasn’t enough to get the attention of Colorado’s elected leaders about what may be coming their way in November, let the Outdoor Retailer Show’s massive presence in Denver this week be their next reminder.

Climate change and stopping the Trump environmental roll-backs were among key issues that brought out hundreds of thousands of women, and men who support them, across America last weekend.

The outdoor industry’s primary convention—expected to draw 28,000 attendees and bring in over $50 million dollars (that’s for each of the twice-annual event)—should be a wake-up call to our state’s elected officials: Colorado cares about the environment—and we will support leaders that act to protect our public lands, rivers, clean air and water, and who act to address climate change. Others, not so much.

And this reminder is not only for our federal representatives, not only in response to the Zinke and Pruitt roll-backs as poorly as they may serve the public, and much as those may drive the national narrative. This time we are coming for every level of government–from county commissioners and state legislators, to gubernatorial candidates, and, yes, to U.S. Representatives and Senators.

That the Outdoor Retailer Show is in Denver and not in Salt Lake City is itself a shot across the bow of anti-environmental politicians. As the Outdoor Industry Association, the entity that puts on the twice-yearly show, was considering its move from Utah, it made it clear that it was driven by the hostile policies of its host state’s elected leaders.

As the Salt Lake Tribune reported about a meeting that the OIA had with Utah Governor Gary Herbert:

Colorado has been a top destination spot for outdoor adventures for over a century. The appeal of its great outdoors remains a key feature for residents too, both life-long and newly arrived.

“It is clear that the governor indeed has a different perspective on the protections of public lands from that of our members and the majority of Western state voters, both Republicans and Democrats — that’s bad for our American heritage, and it’s bad for our businesses. We are therefore continuing our search for a new home as soon as possible.”

The show’s owner, Emerald Expositions, said in a news release that it would not include Utah in its request for proposals from cities hoping to host the trade shows, which bring about 40,000 visitors and $45 million to Salt Lake City each year.

“Salt Lake City has been hospitable to Outdoor Retailer and our industry for the past 20 years, but we are in lockstep with the outdoor community and are working on finding our new home,” said Marisa Nicholson, show director for Outdoor Retailer.

The relocation of this multi-million-dollar boost to the state economy, a twice annual event, followed Utah’s relentless push to privatize public lands, gut public lands protections, grease the skids for energy development on public lands, and weaken protections for cultural and natural sites.

“Our end goal is to provide protection to Bears Ears, for example. We just don’t think a monument is the best vehicle to do that,” Herbert said.  

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Felon Elected to Greeley City Council – Opponent Sues

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eddie Mirick was just elected to the at-large seat on Greeley’s City Council.  Mirick  has a 1978 felony conviction for forgery, which he lied about when he filled out the paperwork to run for City Council.  The charter of Greeley, a “home-rule” city, specifically does not allow anyone convicted of a felony to be elected to City Council. Yet Mirick was elected, and City Council members have seated him, and are letting the court decide whether he will be allowed to serve.

Mirick’s eligibility to serve on City Council will be decided in District Court, pending the result of a lawsuit filed by the campaign manager of Mirick’s opponent, Stacy  Suniga.

Mirick (3rd from left) on Greeley for a Stronger Economy’s FB ad

The makeup of Greeley’s City Council will affect the balance of power between oil and gas interests vs. the public health of residents, in one of the most fracked cities in America.

Mirick is a veteran, and lives with physical disabilities. He is active in charities and community groups. And he strongly supports oil and gas development in Greeley.  Mirick benefitted from over $65,000 spent for cable TV ads from a shadowy Denver group: “Greeley for a Stronger Economy (GSE)*”.  Mayor John Gates, and two other candidates for Greeley City Council:   appointed member Brett Payton, who won his seat against opponent Lavonna Longwell by a grand total of 2 votes. (after recount), and Ward 3 candidate Michael Fitsimmons were also promoted by GSE advertising.

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Get More Smarter on Cyber Monday (November 27)

Today only — everything on Colorado Pols is 73% off!!! It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congress is back in session after the Thanksgiving Holiday with a jam-packed schedule waiting for them. As Politico explains:

December is shaping up to be the cruelest month for Republicans who control Capitol Hill.

Under enormous pressure for a legislative achievement, GOP senators will attempt to follow their House counterparts this week by passing a massive tax overhaul they can send to President Donald Trump by the end of the year.

At the same time, they’re dealing with Democrats to avert a Christmastime government shutdown. And that battle is complicated even further by an emotional fight over the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants…

…The to-do list, which Trump will discuss with top congressional leaders at a White House meeting on Tuesday, doesn’t end there. Lawmakers are butting heads over a third tranche of emergency aid for hurricane-ravaged areas. Key surveillance powers used by the National Security Agency need to be renewed. Funding for a health insurance program benefiting 9 million lower-income children is already long expired, with several states close to running out of cash.

 

► The Republican tax plan still winding its way through Congress is picking up near-unanimous disapproval from every group that studies the legislation. From the Washington Post:

The Senate Republican tax plan gives substantial tax cuts and benefits to Americans earning more than $100,000 a year, while the nation’s poorest would be worse off, according to a report released Sunday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Republicans are aiming to have the full Senate vote on the tax plan as early as this week, but the new CBO analysis showing large, harmful effects on the poor may complicate those plans. The CBO also said the bill would add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over the next decade, a potential problem for Republican lawmakers worried about America’s growing debt.

Democrats have repeatedly slammed the bill as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the poor. In addition to lowering taxes for businesses and many individuals, the Senate bill also makes a major change to health insurance that the CBO projects would have a harsh impact on lower-income families.

This tax proposal is absolutely awful. Period.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) throttled the GOP tax plan in the weekly Democratic address over the weekend.

 

► The next time you hear Colorado Congressional Republicans talking about how much they love wind power, remember this important part of the House tax bill. You should probably also keep in mind how Republicans are planning to screw over teachers.

Oh, and guess which sitting U.S. President stands to personally benefit from some last-minute changes to the Republican Senate tax proposal?

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (November 15)

Koningsfeest is a fun word to say. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senate Republicans have decided to push ahead with legislation to cut taxes for rich people that also now includes a repeal of the individual mandate connected to Obamacare. As the Washington Post reports, this kitchen sink tax bill is a big gamble:

Congressional Republicans are reaching for a booby-trapped bag of cash as they scramble to try to pay for their tax overhaul. 

House and Senate Republicans are moving to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate — a surprise turn that would yield more than $300 billion in much-needed revenue even as it revives the toxic politics of the GOP’s summertime drive to gut the landmark law.

Senate GOP tax writers incorporated the high-stakes maneuver into the latest version of their plan (see full text here), released late Tuesday night. They applied the new revenue to making permanent the deeply-slashed 20 percent corporate rate at the heart of the tax plan; doubling the child tax credit to $2,000; and expanding access to a deduction for pass-through businesses. But the updated bill sunsets individual rate cuts at the end of 2025 to help the package comply with strict budget rules — a move that Democrats seized on to blast the GOP for prioritizing corporate interests over working people. 

The Post notes that House Republicans are not nearly as excited about the idea of trying to repeal the individual mandate within a tax reform bill that has already been taking on water for weeks. Earlier this month Republicans were hammered for trying to insert “Personhood” language into the tax bill as well. Chris Cillizza of CNN writes that Republicans are risking the entire 2018 election on this new maneuver.

 

► “Tax reform” legislation in the House of Representatives remains on track to potentially get a floor vote as soon as Thursday, which could theoretically allow the House and Senate enough time to reconcile both versions before the end of the year. From CNBC:

The GOP aims to pass a plan to chop tax rates for businesses and individuals by the end of the year to fulfill a key campaign promise. Lawmakers argue that changing the tax code will spark economic growth and boost job creation and wages.

This week, the Senate is marking up, or debating and amending, its version. The chamber wants to approve the bill after Thanksgiving.

House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday described the current plans as a “work in progress.” He said he expects the two chambers to pass separate legislation before going to a conference committee to craft a joint plan.

In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, McCarthy contended that the House and Senate can quickly reconcile the differences and get a final bill to Trump’s desk by the end of the year.

President Trump is expected to visit Capitol Hill on Thursday to drum up support for cutting taxes for rich people.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has an idea for a real reform to the tax code that makes a lot of sense and therefore probably has no chance of succeeding.

 

► Just when you thought the saga of Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore couldn’t get any weirder…it does. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now suggesting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions could be a Republican write-in candidate in next month’s special election in Alabama. Of course, the entire reason that this special election is even taking place is because Sessions left his Senate office earlier this year to become Attorney General.

Moore continues to resist pressure to withdraw from the race, and Sessions has given no public indication that he would want to return to his old job. There’s a word for what’s happening in Alabama right now (hint: it rhymes with “Blusterfuck”).

Also, Colorado Republicans have a lot of explaining to do about embracing Moore during a visit to Denver last Spring.

 

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You Can’t Do That, Scott Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

An AP wire story today via the Denver Post saddles EPA henhouse guard fox administrator Scott Pruitt with another alleged improper use of taxpayer funds in Colorado–this time Pruitt’s visit to our state to film a video urging opposition to the previous administration’s much-vilified Clean Water Rule:

Pruitt flew to Colorado for an August event organized by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, an industry trade association representing cattle producers. While at the ranch, Pruitt recorded a video urging the group’s members to file comments supporting the repeal of EPA’s Waters of the United States rule.

The 2015 rule seeks to expand the agency’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act to include smaller streams and wetlands.

In a letter sent last week, the top Democrats on four committees with oversight of EPA asked the head of the Government Accountability Office to issue a formal legal ruling on whether Pruitt’s participation in the video violated federal rules.

They cited longstanding prohibitions against federal officials using taxpayer funds “for publicity or propaganda purposes, and for the preparation, distribution or use of any kit, pamphlet, booklet, publication, radio, television, or film presentation designed to support or defeat legislation pending before the Congress.”

This issue does involve the existing controversy over Pruitt’s costly and questionable travel arrangements, which includes a chartered private flight from Denver to Durango earlier this year that Colorado officials say could have been avoided if Pruitt had taken their offer of a ride with Gov. John Hickenlooper. This latest scandal adds the impropriety of expensive travel to Colorado to an improper purpose: attacking the Clean Water Rule on behalf of an industry lobbying group.

In short, it’s definitely a problem, and Pruitt could find himself sharing the fate of ousted HHS Secretary Tom Price if the bad headlines for the administration continue. And yes, the Clean Water Rule angle makes the “drain the swamp” humor over Pruitt’s spendthrift use of taxpayer dollars that much more biting.

Administrator, drain thyself. Preferably not into the waters of the United States.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (October 13)

Today is the second, and final, Friday the 13th of 2017. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is destroying healthcare in America. Trump signed an Executive Order on Thursday that encourages the creation of cheap and largely worthless health insurance plans for healthier Americans — the result of which will likely drive up costs significantly for everyone else.

As the Denver Post reports, Colorado’s top insurance regulator is concerned about what comes next:

Colorado’s top insurance regulator responded on Thursday to President Donald Trump’s health care executive order with concern, saying the policies endorsed could lead to flimsier coverage in the state and much higher costs for the sick.

“The limited benefits, the focus on the healthy at the expense of those with pre-existing conditions, and lack of regulatory oversight will cause problems for the health insurance market as a whole,” said Marguerite Salazar, the state’s insurance commissioner…

…In her statement, Salazar said expanding the use of these plans — and loosening the requirements around them — could pull healthy people into skimpier plans, while heaping unbearable costs on the sick.

“Premiums may end up being lower for people buying these plans, but for many, paying for services not covered by the plans will be much more costly in the long run,” she said.

 

► Thursday’s Executive Order was just the first blow in a one-two combination thrown by Trump to bury the Affordable Care Act. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump plans to cut off subsidy payments to insurers selling Obamacare coverage in his most aggressive move yet to undermine his predecessor’s health care law.

The subsidies, which are worth an estimated $7 billion this year and are paid out in monthly installments, may stop almost immediately since Congress hasn’t appropriated funding for the program.

The decision — which leaked out only hours after Trump signed an executive order calling for new regulations to encourage cheap, loosely regulated health plans — delivered a double whammy to Obamacare after months of failed GOP efforts to repeal the law. With open enrollment for the 2018 plan year set to launch in two weeks, the moves seem aimed at dismantling the law through executive actions.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the decision in a statement emailed to reporters Thursday night.

How is Trump able to just cancel these subsidies? You can draw a straight line between this pending E.O. and legislation passed by Congress in 2014 with the support of Republicans Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

Vox.com has more on how and why Trump’s actions on Obamacare create a lose-lose situation for Americans.

 

► President Trump’s decision to use Executive Orders to cripple the Affordable Care Act puts the results — which aren’t likely to be good — squarely on his shoulders. As the Washington Post explains:

This is not “letting” Obamacare fail. Many nonpartisan experts believe that these active measures are likely to undermine the pillars of the 2010 law and hasten the collapse of the marketplaces.

The Pottery Barn rule comes to mind: You break it, you own it. Yes, the plate you just shattered had some cracks in it. But if you dropped it on the ground, the store is going to blame you.

As Barack Obama learned after the Great Recession, with heavy Democratic losses in the 2010 midterms, it’s hard to blame your predecessor for problems two years after you take office. Especially when your party has unified control of the federal government. No matter how much it might be the previous guy’s fault, many voters won’t buy it. People have very short attention spans.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper calls Trump’s healthcare decisions “cruel and irresponsible.” The editorial board at the New York Times calls on Congress to prevent Trump from destroying the healthcare marketplace.

 

► In non-healthcare news, President Trump has apparently made a decision on how to proceed with the Iran nuclear deal: He’s going to punt. Instead of scuttling the deal altogether, Trump is asking Congress to fix “flaws” in the agreement that was sealed by the Obama administration. Why Trump thinks Congress can fix anything is another question altogether.

 

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Vicki Marble and the Cub Scout Tapes

State Sen. Vicki Marble (R)

State Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Broomfield-ish) is no stranger when it comes to making what we could charitably call “controversial” statements, but she really raised lowered the bar for herself this week while speaking to a troop of Cub Scouts in Broomfield.

We’ll get to that Broomfield scout meeting in a moment, but first a little primer on Marble. It is Marble who came up with the “Hateful Eight” moniker to describe her and seven of her conservative colleagues in the state senate. She has alleged that renewable energy proponents “destroyed” the town of Craig with their “maypole” windmills. She has trouble differentiating between legitimate news sources and satire sites like “The Onion.” She believes that advocates for equal pay are actually victimizing women.

And, of course, Marble was the voice behind the infamous “Chickengate” affair, in which she explained during a legislative hearing on poverty that African-Americans have a shorter life span because they eat too much chicken and barbecue; the State Republican Party practically tripped over itself trying to distance itself from Marble’s commentary on this issue.

On Monday, Oct. 9, Marble spoke to a Cub Scout pack in Broomfield and delivered a breathtaking display of craziness. Videos of Marble’s remarks showed up on YouTube soon afterward; we’ve taken the liberty of transcribing Marble’s comments so that you can better hope to understand one of the more uncomfortable diatribes we’ve come across in recent memory.

You can read Marble’s comments on a variety of subjects after the jump. We’ve also included links to the videos related to the transcription…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 11)

Today is not international fried chicken day or anything else; for once, it’s just a day. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump reportedly asked military leaders to dramatically increase the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. As NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.

Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.

According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

Trump responded to the NBC News report with his typical “fake news” diatribe, though with a new twist on his worn-out rhetoric. From Politico:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that NBC’s broadcast license should be pulled as punishment after NBC News published a report stating that the president sought a dramatic increase in the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning, equating the two TV news outlets he has most often lashed out against. “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”…

…The president’s stated willingness to potentially challenge the broadcast licenses of networks whose coverage he objects to opens a new front on Trump’s long-running battle with the media. The president has regularly complained about coverage he views as unfairly critical, labeling stories, reporters and entire outlets “fake news.”

Like most of the things Trump says, this threat is more fantasy than reality. It is extremely unlikely that Trump could somehow coerce the FCC into cutting off NBC’s broadcast license. The Politico story quotes Andrew Schwartzman, a communications lawyer with the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center, calling Trump’s grumbling “an empty threat.”

Nevertheless, Trump’s latest threat was met with a swift response from Democrats:

Bennet is also calling on the FCC to clarify that NBC is in no danger of losing its broadcast license.

 

► Congressional Republican leaders say that “failure is not an option” when it comes to tax reform. Of course, they said similar things before failing repeatedly to repeal Obamacare.

The New York Times examines how a tax reform plan similar to the one being championed by President Trump was enacted in Kansas — and quickly repealed by lawmakers after disastrous results:

With the state hemorrhaging government revenue, Kansas lawmakers rolled back the tax law this year, but congressional Republicans and President Trump are trying to take the experiment with pass-through preferences national, beyond Wichita and Topeka to cities with residents who measure incomes in seven, eight or nine figures.

The Republican tax rewrite unveiled this month aims to jump-start economic growth in part by establishing a 25 percent tax rate on small businesses and other firms that operate as pass-through entities, a cut from the top rate of 39.6 percent that such business owners pay now.

But the abandoned experiment in Kansas points to how a carve-out intended to help raise growth and create jobs instead created an incentive for residents, particularly high earners, to avoid paying state income taxes by changing how they got paid.

 

► Colorado politicians — those not named Cory Gardner, anyway — continue to criticize the Trump administration’s War on Clean Energy, which took a new turn on Tuesday when EPA Chief Scott Pruitt ended the Obama-era “Clean Power Plan.” Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) do agree that a proposed tariff on the import of solar panels is a bad idea.

 

► Massive wildfires in California are straining emergency response systems.

 

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AG Coffman Loves Leadership (Except When She Doesn’t)

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

The energy industry-funded Western Wire celebrated yesterday with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman the decision by the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency to repeal the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan–a plan Colorado was already well on the road to complying with, but Coffman nonetheless fiercely opposed:

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman (R) welcomed Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency would sign papers “to withdraw the so-called Clean Power Plan of the past administration.”

Under Pruitt, the EPA argues the Clean Power Plan exceeded the EPA’s regulatory authority.

“The EPA’s decision to repeal this rule clears the way for a new rule making process that addresses the legal deficiencies in the old rule and thoughtfully considers input from various stakeholders, including States,” Coffman told Western Wire via email. “The goal should be a federal-State partnership that gives States a meaningful role in setting achievable emission standards without dictating how States manage their power grids. Colorado has been a national leader in establishing clean energy standards, and we continue to prove that the States can develop and implement sound environmental policy within the bounds of the law.”

Coffman sparred with Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, who challenged the legality of Coffman’s participation in the lawsuit against the Obama-era rule. The Colorado Supreme Court declined Hickenlooper’s petition.

Because of renewable energy standards passed a decade ago as well as a major agreement to replace numerous coal-fired power plants in Colorado with natural gas power production, Colorado was already on course to meet the standards established by the Clean Power Plan. That’s why the decision by Attorney General Coffman to join the lawsuit against the administration in 2015 was broadly perceived to be a political stunt.

Of course, that was before Donald Trump became President! Now the lead attorney general in the lawsuit Coffman joined without the Governor’s consent is the head of the EPA, and the Clean Power Plan is headed for the history books at the federal level. Don’t expect Coffman to suddenly become a champion of tougher state standards, either–one need look no farther than her threatening local communities who try to enact drilling protections that exceed the status quo to see both ends of the pro-industry squeeze play. It’s a lot like the duplicitous arguments from state legislators who tried to repeal the Connect For Health Colorado insurance exchange this year, saying it wouldn’t be a problem because the federal exchange would continue to operate–except for the small detail of Republicans in Washington simultaneously working on the repeal of the federal exchange.

In short, the only people this situation should make happy work for the fossil fuel industry, who readers already know wield a disproportionate amount of influence in Colorado politics. Despite that heavy influence Colorado remains a leader in moving toward a clean energy economy, and is more likely to remain so now with further progress among the states becoming even more uneven. Continuing that record of progress versus rolling back Colorado’s model renewable energy standards is set to be a key issue in next year’s gubernatorial elections.

If that’s Cynthia Coffman’s long-term angle, she’d better hurry up! With Walker Stapleton having dedicated his campaign to supporting oil and gas industry, the people most likely to reward Coffman’s unswerving fealty could get taken off the market.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 5)

The Colorado Rockies made the playoffs this year, but you missed it if you didn’t catch Wednesday’s game in Arizona. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Tens of thousands of Colorado children are in serious trouble if Congress does not renew funding for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program that expired at the end of September. The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday took the first step toward renewing CHIP funding with a bill sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

 

► Today is the last day for DACA recipients to renew permits before the process is closed under a policy shift announced last month by the Trump administration.

 

► Colorado Senate Republican leaders pledged not to do their jobs when the legislature convened for a brief session to fix an unintentional legislative error this week, and they succeeded in doing nothing once again. But the decisions of Republican leaders such as Senate President Kevin Grantham are looking even worse with the news that legislation to fix SB-267 would have passed in the Senate had a floor vote been permitted.

State Sen. Chris Holbert is among those Republican leaders whose reputations took a hit this week. Holbert was quoted by the Denver Post saying that he “did not swear an oath to uphold the opinion of a court” and preferred to follow his constituents’ interpretation of the State Constitution rather than, you know, facts.

 

► Former Judge Roy Moore, who easily defeated Sen. Luther Strange in a Republican Primary in Alabama last month, showed up unexpectedly in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and caused quite a stir. As the Washington Post reports, Moore apparently met with NRSC head Cory Gardner, despite the best efforts of both men to pretend othewise:

Rather than meeting with McConnell, Moore was on the House side of the Capitol on Wednesday. In a brief interview as he left the office of Rep. Robert B. Aderholt in the afternoon, Moore said he had no meetings set up with McConnell or members of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate majority’s campaign arm, which spent millions trying to defeat Moore in the primary.

“Nothing confirmed,” he said casually, as an aide tried to head off questions. Asked why he decided to come to Washington, Moore simply replied: “Beautiful place.”

In the evening, Moore met with the NRSC chairman, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), according to a Republican close to Gardner and a second Republican familiar with the talk who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the closed-door session. Moore’s campaign declined to comment.

The meeting appeared to be hastily arranged, given Moore’s afternoon remark and Gardner’s uncertainty earlier in the day, as he and other Republicans struggled to save face.

“I haven’t looked at the schedule — I don’t know that yet,” Gardner said around midday, when asked whether he planned to meet with Moore.

The entire story is worth a read; Republicans who feared Moore and his right-wing supporters seem to have plenty of reason to be nervous. Moore’s Senate campaign was also a referendum on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom the Alabama nominee has openly criticized.

 

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Trump EPA Budget Threatens Colorado Health, Economy, and Environment

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Based on his record as Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt has never cared much for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it seems. And he is running the agency that way now for the Trump administration. Pruitt has moved quickly to strip authority and expertise from the agency, and to install the foxes inside the hen house.

Pruitt seems to be intent on attacking science, weakening environmental oversight, and rolling back protections, reworking the EPA’s primary purposes to coordinate and implement the public health and environmental protections included in the variety of federal laws.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes U.S. EPA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States which was created for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.

Meanwhile, even as Pruitt is proposing draconian cuts to programs and staff, he has been spending lavishly on his own behalf, joining the other swamp critters in the cabinet, who have also been jetting around on the taxpayers’ dime as a matter of convenience, if not from a sense of entitlement.


While in Oklahoma City that day, Pruitt was interviewed by The Oklahoman on several topics, including his travel. The interview came soon after a report claimed Pruitt spent 43 out of 92 days from March to May in Oklahoma or traveling between Washington and Oklahoma. Pruitt dismissed the allegations as overblown claims by activists aligned with former President Barack Obama.
The Oklahoman, Sept. 29, 2017

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Get More Smarter on Friday (September 22)

Welcome to the first day of Autumn. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Arizona Sen. John McCain appears to have torpedoed the last best hope for Republicans hoping to repeal Obamacare before a budget reconciliation deadline of Sept. 30. From the Huffington Post:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Friday that he doesn’t support the latest Obamacare repeal bill, all but ensuring Republicans’ last-ditch effort to gut the Affordable Care Act is dead in the water.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” McCain said in a statement.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” he said. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full [Congressional Budget Office] score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”

As multiple news outlets are reporting, McCain’s statement of opposition to the Graham-Lindsey healthcare bill all but ensures the legislation’s demise. The major flaws in Graham-Cassidy were too much for McCain to ignore. While this is another blow to Senate Republican leadership, it also provides a convenient exit strategy for Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who had absurdly claimed that he was “undecided” on the legislation when he is more worried about angering major Republican donors.

Coloradans such as Sarah Metsch can also exhale — for the moment, anyway.

 

► Colorado Republican opposition to a “special session” called by Gov. John Hickenlooper is getting more and more ridiculous by the day.

 

► The Washington Post reports on escalating rhetoric between President Trump and North Korea. If you’re looking for a silver lining here, at least Americans are learning a new word.

 

► The Trump administration is making changes to its “Don’t Call it a Muslim Travel Ban. From the New York Times:

President Trump’s ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, officials familiar with the plans said on Friday.

The new restrictions, aimed at preventing security threats from entering the United States, could go into effect on Sunday after the conclusion of a 90-day policy review undertaken as part of the administration’s original travel ban. Though the restrictions would differ for each country, people living in the targeted nations could be prevented from traveling to the United States or could face increased scrutiny as they seek to obtain a visa.

As part of the review, administration officials said that the Department of Homeland Security initially identified more than six nations that were failing to comply with security standards that could block terrorists from entering the United States. Officials notified the governments in those nations that travel to the United States could be severely restricted if they did not increase those standards. It was not clear which countries would be targeted under the new restrictions or exactly how many would be affected.

 

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