Brauchler Surprised that “Water is a Huge Issue” in Colorado

So, tell me more about this…water.

Many of the 17 dozen candidates for Governor in Colorado descended on the annual “Club 20 Fall Conference” in Grand Junction over the weekend. Candidates from the Front Range may not be exposed to all of the issues that are critical to Colorado’s Western Slope, but Republican gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler was a bit too candid in his comments. As the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports:

As the current district attorney for the 18th Judicial District in the Denver metropolitan area, the Republican knows much about public safety issues, from the courts to law enforcement.

But being governor necessitates more than just a rudimentary understanding of other issues, something he’s learned while campaigning on the Western Slope in the crowded race for the GOP nomination for governor.

“The one issue that I did not anticipate, but appreciate more than any of the other (issues), is water,” Brauchler said Friday shortly after meeting with the Grand Junction Economic Partnership about business issues. “On the Front Range, the water issue is when I turn on my tap, is it there? Getting around the state as much as I have over the past five months, water is a huge issue.” Brauchler said his lack of understanding about water issues prompted him to meet with numerous water experts, including those with the Colorado River District. [Pols emphasis]

His main takeaway, which is still under development, is more storage and more conservation.

Whhaaatttt???

It’s hard to overstate the weirdness of Brauchler’s comments here. Water policy has been among the most important issues in Colorado since…well, since before Colorado became Colorado. We have a Statewide Water Plan in Colorado, for crying out loud. Water policy in Colorado is extremely complicated, as this briefing document from the State of Colorado outlines, so candidates can be forgiven for not knowing all of the details. But not knowing that water is a big issue in general is a flabbergasting acknowledgment from a serious gubernatorial candidate.

This bizarre admission is a terrible look for Brauchler — and no doubt something that will haunt him in the months to come. It is an inexcusable mistake that Brauchler was not better-briefed before he grabbed the microphone in Grand Junction.

If you’re not familiar with Colorado water issues, you probably shouldn’t show up at a “Club 20” event. For that matter, if you’re not familiar with water issues, you probably shouldn’t be running for governor of Colorado.

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GOP Lawmakers Troll Well-Plugging Plan, Because Of Course

Sen. Ray Scott (R).

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb reports–a few weeks ago, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced measures intended to prevent the recurrence of an explosion inside a home in Firestone that killed two people and leveled the structure, an explosion later determined to be caused by methane gas seeping into the home’s foundations from an improperly abandoned well nearby. Flowlines from that well allowed the gas into the home, calling attention to a major statewide problem of abandoned oil and gas development infrastructure. Hickenlooper’s announced fixes have been debated as a potentially too-small response to a problem that will only get worse as the urbanizing Front Range expands into current and formerly drilled areas.

But as the Sentinel reports, a pair of energy biz-friendly GOP lawmakers is pushing back even against Hickenlooper’s small-scale proposed fixes:

State Sen. Ray Scott and state Rep. Bob Rankin are asking Colorado’s top oil and gas regulator to justify why more funds are needed to pay for plugging abandoned wells.

The two made the request in a letter written Wednesday to Matt Lepore, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

They wrote it after Gov. John Hickenlooper made several recommendations for new laws or regulations in response to the April home explosion in Firestone that killed two men and was linked to gas flowing from an abandoned flowline from a nearby well. One recommendation was the creation of a nonprofit fund to plug and abandon orphan wells and provide refunds for in-home methane monitors. Orphan wells are ones for which no owner or operator can be found, or the owner or operator is unwilling or unable to plug and properly abandon it.

“We are writing to request your assistance regarding the size and scope of the abandoned well situation in Colorado,” Scott and Rankin said in their letter to Lepore. They pointed to what they called Hickenlooper’s suggestion that “the abandoned well problem is so vast in scope that new taxes and fees are necessary to stand up a new organization to address the problem.”

Even Matt Lepore, Gov. Hickenlooper’s rather infamously pro-industry director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, says that the amount of money oil companies are required to bond for plugging old wells is inadequate, having last been increased almost a decade ago and to a level still not enough to cover the need.

But apparently even Hickenlooper’s limited actions in response to the Firestone explosion are too much for Republicans in the legislature! Politically, questioning these baby steps as potential “overreach” following such a high-profile disaster is incredibly tone-deaf–if not for the Western Slope “gaspatch Republicans” in this story, then certainly for Republicans who have to answer to worried suburban homeowners along the Front Range.

At some point, public safety has to come before private profit. Doesn’t it?

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Get More Smarter on Friday (August 25)

Keep your fingers crossed and your thoughts and prayers on south Texas this weekend.  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…

► Hurricane Harvey is on track to make a devastating landfall in south Texas sometime this evening — the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Meteorologists are already predicting rainfall totals that will be measured in feet rather than inches. As the Washington Post reports, Hurricane Harvey will be another big test for President Trump:

Storms like this can define presidencies. George W. Bush’s presidency never recovered after Hurricane Katrina 12 summers ago. George H.W. Bush’s 1992 reelection hopes were hurt by his botched response to Hurricane Andrew because it cemented the narrative that he was detached from domestic problems and unconcerned about acting swiftly to help regular people back home…

Major damage will also draw public attention to severe budget cuts Trump has proposed.

Trump has pushed for a 6% cut for the National Weather Service and a 16% slash to the budget of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The latest estimates on the power of Hurricane Harvey are sounding pretty dire. From CNN:

The outer bands of Hurricane Harvey have begun swiping the Texas coast as 35 inches of rain and “catastrophic” storm-surge flooding is predicted following landfall late Friday or early Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said.

The combination of heavy rain, “life-threatening” storm surges, flooding and strong winds could leave wide swaths of South Texas “uninhabitable for weeks or months,” the National Weather Service in Houston said. Such daunting language hasn’t been seen by CNN’s experts since Hurricane Katrina, which left more than 1,800 people dead in 2005.

 

► Could Governor John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) run for Vice President in 2020 on a “unity ticket” with Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) as the lead dog?

[sigh]

No. But it is fun to say “Kasichlooper.”

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 22)

If you didn’t blind yourself by staring at the eclipse on Monday, enjoy these words. 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…

The dust is settling in Jefferson County following Monday’s news — first reported by Colorado Pols — that Rep. Ed Perlmutter has decided to seek re-election in 2018 after initially saying he would not be a candidate for any office next year. Democratic candidates Andy KerrBrittany Pettersen, and Dominick Moreno have all publicly announced that they are ending their campaigns in CD-7 and endorsing Perlmutter for re-election.

 

► President Trump will be in Phoenix, Arizona tonight for a campaign-style rally that has Republicans nervous for a whole host of reasons. As A.J. Vicens (formerly of the Columbine Courier) writes for Mother Jones, there’s a lot of buzz that Trump might use the occasion of his speech in Phoenix to pardon Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

Arpaio was recently convicted of contempt of court for disregarding a judge’s order to stop his discriminatory anti-immigration patrols, and he now faces up to six months in jail, with sentencing scheduled for October.

The president told Fox News on August 14 that he was “seriously considering” pardoning Arpaio…

…The White House didn’t respond to a question about whether Trump was planning to issue the pardon, and Arpaio said he hasn’t heard about an impending pardon but would be “honored by the potential pardon” and would accept it, according to the New York Times. Arpaio told Politico that he’d be available for the Tuesday night rally if called upon.

Republicans are also concerned that Trump may be planning to use his Phoenix trip to continue his aggressive attacks on Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump faces a decision on Tuesday evening with profound implications for his already strained relationship with the GOP: whether to attack a vulnerable Republican senator on his home turf.

White House officials won’t say exactly what’s on Trump’s agenda when he holds a campaign-style rally here. But it’s widely expected he will go after GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, a loud critic of the president who recently published an anti-Trump manifesto, “Conscience of a Conservative.”…

…In the days leading up to Trump’s Arizona trip, Senate GOP leaders have implicitly warned Trump that attacking Flake, who faces a treacherous path to reelection, would only serve to further rupture his relationship with a congressional GOP wing that he’s grown increasingly isolated from in recent weeks. It came after Trump, in a tweet after the Phoenix event was announced, called Flake “toxic.” The president had earlier threatened to spend as much as $10 million to take out the incumbent Republican.

Flake has received full public support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chair Cory Gardner. It’s hard to say if this is good news for Flake, since McConnell is sporting some amazingly-low approval ratings (with Gardner not far away).

 

► Governor John Hickenlooper announced plans for a state response to dealing with oil and gas companies following a home explosion in Firestone in late April. Cathy Proctor of the Denver Business Journal has the details on Hick’s 7-point plan.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Rep. Ken Buck – Still lying, but nicely

Representative Buck is a good communicator. His conversational skills were on display in his Sterling Town Hall on July 29, 2017.  He does not always tell the truth, and his point of view is limited to what one would expect from one of the ten most conservative members of the House of Representatives, and proud member of the ultra-right wing Freedom Caucus.  I’ve listed Buck’s lies and lies by omission below.

Buck handles these town halls well – he doesn’t get flustered when confronted, and  stayed in control with a crowd that was at least 50% Democratic and progressive. The impromptu town hall in Longmont got a little rowdier, but Buck still kept his cool.  I’d call the overall tone of the Sterling meeting “polite but firm” , for all parties involved.

Over the course of the  one hour town hall meeting, Buck and his constituents discussed the budget process, the health care bills past, present, and future, education, water law, Bitcoin and “crypto-currency”, renewable energy, constitutional convention, the VA hospital, and civility in politics. I’ve highlighted some of the places in which Representative Buck strayed from the truth.

  • At 22:59, during a renewable energy discussion , Buck said that he’s against mandates, not renewable energy, even though Colorado now gets 24% of its electricity from wind and solar, and wind turbine jobs are the fastest growing job category in the country. . He was unable to justify his statement that renewable energy is hurting Coloradans and costing them money.
  • At 30:00 Buck says he’s against unfunded mandates in education, but doesn’t commit to fund them.
  • At 39:00, Buck lies about how much ACA coverage cost in 2014. (ACA = $1800, wife’s plan =$108 – but not mentioning that the  Federal Government subsidizes all congressmembers health at 90%, so his remaining 10% cost would have been $180/mo). If you recall, Cory Gardner  tried to scam voters with this same BS, and was never able to show any proof that his ACA payment was more expensive than his private plan.
  • At 40:00 Rep. Buck says he wants to drive down costs of premiums & deductibles, but neglects to mention that the House AHCA bill would have driven those way up for consumers.
  • At 49:45 , he says we should encourage people to be healthier and drive down health care costs that way (but the bill he supported would have eliminated ACA’s preventative medicine coverage).
  • Buck told a LIE again at 51:13 when he said that the GOP congress “never attempted to repeal and replace” Obamacare. The GOP Congress voted over 50 times to “repeal the ACA, and Buck personally voted 3X since he was elected in 2014 to repeal the ACA.
  • Again, at 53: 00 when Buck is asked what can be done about the lack of civility in DC, he blames the media for publicizing sensational stories, not a Republican administration which refuses to work across the aisle, nor a President who models terrible and uncivil behavior.
  • At 53:30, Buck is asked about his book Drain the Swamp, and  if it is true that he wants to change the Constitution. He replies that he would like to have a Constitutional Convention, but only to get a balanced budget and term limits. Whew. It’s not like there are any Koch brothers or nuts out there who want a Con-con just to repeal the last two centuries of progress.

Ken Buck apparently also has access to the Trump White House connection to Breitbart public relations  services. Buck’s humorous “Cut the Debt” video

features Trey Gowdy, Mia Love, Ted Cruz, and other Congress members, and promotes his point of view that cutting the national debt is an urgent priority. It was a front page Breitbart story on 3/15/2017.

Ken Buck is still one of the most conservative members of Congress. People running against him need to confront him on policy and votes. He’s not stupid or undisciplined – he’s not going to curse anyone out or get into a sex or money scandal. He’ll be a formidable foe not least because he is so “nice” and “personable”. Candidates running against him need to be prepared to confront him on votes, policies, and facts, stay polite and respectful, but call his lies out when necessary.

Representative Buck has other town hall meetings scheduled. See his website for updates.

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Clueless Climate Alliance Clamor Continues

We wrote earlier this week about Republican gubernatorial candidates who reacted with over-the-top anger to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s decision to join the U.S. Climate Alliance–a group of states committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Accords despite President Donald Trump’s unilateral pullout of the United States.

Since then, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg has joined the pile-on in his own colloquial way:

We don’t know who Mark Train is, but we assume he doesn’t drive an electric car! Bah-dum-tish!

Ribbing aside, this is another chance to remind readers that we’ve never understood the intensity of the clamor against renewable energy from groups like the Independence Institute and their Republican message surrogates. The scientific consensus regarding human-caused climate change is really only challenged by a small subset of non-mainstream voices, who are almost always are revealed under scrutiny to be funded by interests with a financial motive to deny the overwhelming consensus.

This description sums up the Independence Institute pretty well.

What we’re trying to say here is that the only people who rage against renewable energy this much are paid to–or in the case of politicians like Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, supported politically by those who are. If you don’t have a financial interest in the fight against clean energy, there’s just no reason to badmouth it. Not even as price-sensitive consumers, since the cost of power from renewable sources has been dropping, steadily eroding that once-decisive factor. Consumers understand the benefit of using clean energy over fossil fuels, and are excited about new technologies to make them practical.

In all cases, whether it’s the GOP’s candidates for governor or the fossil fuel industry’s paid surrogates, these are extremely weak arguments, that the next generation will find laughable as they routinely set out for the West Coast in their electric cars and power their homes with renewable generation. Unless you’re already primed for these anti-renewable energy arguments by immersion in the Fox News/talk radio infobubble, in which case you’re the choir the Independence Institute is wasting time preaching to, it simply doesn’t work. It sounds stale, strained, and above all contrived.

Like the real Mark Twain once said, “do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.”

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GOP Gubes Slobber Selves Trying To Ding Hick Climate Order

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D).

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Ernest Luning reports–Republican candidates for governor are lining up to criticize Gov. John Hickenlooper’s decision to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states who remain committed to mitigating the effects of human-caused climate change despite President Donald Trump pulling our country out of the Paris Climate Accords:

“When I am elected [g]overnor, I will repeal this misguided order on Day 1,” wrote entrepreneur and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell in a Facebook post. “We all want clean air, but Hickenlooper’s rogue mandate is not the answer. It will cost Colorado jobs and hit every consumer in the wallet. And all this harm for unknown benefits. Say NO loudly to this politically motivated action by our lame duck [g]overnor.”

Doug Robinson, a former investment banker and Mitt Romney’s nephew, also said he would rescind Hickenlooper’s order if elected.

“Everyone wants to keep Colorado pristine, but this smacks of political grandstanding,” Robinson told Colorado Politics. “As Gov. Hickenlooper correctly points out, market forces are already driving the development of cleaner technology. And that’s exactly how it should work. The government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in any industry.”

George Brauchler, the 18th Judicial District attorney, belittled Hickenlooper’s declaration as ineffectual and wrong-headed…

One of Hickenlooper’s goals, Brauchler said, jumped out as particularly ridiculous. “We have seen such a lack of leadership over the last 10 years of funding the upkeep and expansion of our roads, when I read about these ‘charging corridors’ for electric cars,” he said and then interrupted himself with laughter. “Our roads are in such disrepair, we’re going to push more and more electric cars onto them? You can actually charge your car now while sitting stuck in traffic along (Highway) 36 or (Interstate)-25.”

Polls show that a solid majority of Coloradans are worried about the effects of climate change, so politically this isn’t a position that will gain Republican candidates traction outside a GOP primary. We’re no fans of the state of Colorado roads but we have no idea how you charge an electric vehicle while “sitting in traffic,” so we can’t award George Brauchler any points for accuracy there. As for a “rogue mandate” as Victor Mitchell refers to Hickenlooper’s order, we assume that refers to the states in the Climate Alliance “going rogue” against Trump.

The problem is, in abandoning the Paris Accords, Trump “went rogue” against the entire world.

We know which side we’d want to be on in any election.

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WOTD: Electric Utility Death Spiral

WOTD: Electric Utility Death Spiral

Partial Grid Defection: Produce 80-90% of your own electricity using your solar panel and backup batteries. Stay connected to the grid only for 24/7 reliability. This becomes cost effective by 2020.

Full Grid Defection: Produce 80-90% of your own electricity, and add diesel generator for emergency use. This becomes cost effective by 2030.

From Vox.com: Batteries are going to make rooftop solar invulnerable.

Utilities don’t make money selling electricity, they make money on their infrastructure. Customers pay a flat rate to cover both electricity and infrastructure.

WHEN A CUSTOMER INSTALLS SOLAR PANELS, IT HURTS THE UTILITY IN TWO WAYS. 

One, it reduces demand for utility power. Utilities generally don’t want lower demand. To justify building stuff, they need to be able to project higher demand.

Two, the more solar customers reduce their utility bills by generating their own power, the more utilities have to charge other, non-solar customers more, to cover their costs-plus-returns. This pisses the other customers off. And it incentivizes them to install solar themselves!

Cheap batteries neuter utility attacks on rooftop solar

Rooftop solar can be staved off temporarily with fees and rate tweaks, but as batteries get cheaper, those strategies will stop working. More and customers are going to generate, store, and manage more and more of their own power.

“In a low-cost storage environment,” McKinsey writes, the rate structures utilities are monkeying around with “are unlikely to be effective at mitigating load losses.” In other words, customers are still going to keep generating more of their own power.

That’s because batteries allow customers to circumvent utilities’ two primary tools for slowing the spread of solar.

If I look at my own situation, rooftop solar may be socially conscious  but it isn’t really economical unless my electrical needs were to increase (electric car?)
 

  • For one, the City of Fort Collins runs the electric utility and our prices are 20% or so less than the average in Colorado. 
  • For two, For about $10/month added to my bill, I can purchase solar electricity directly from the City Utility
  • For three, my electric use is already a quarter of average. I don’t have a TV or microwave, nor electric heaters or air conditioner. My whole-house fan runs on low & I have a new, energy-star refrigerator. Those are probably my biggest consumers of electricity.
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Good news! July 1-7, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine, and categories often overlap.

Attorneys General across the country (including Colorado’s Coffman)  are claiming that they will check Big Pharma’s pushing of opiods, “clear the swamp”, ensure fair voting, and protect transgender people. AGs be aware – people will check to see that you follow through on your promises.

Voting rights roundup

flag with I voted

Image by debaird on flikr

Fourth of July, Fireworks, and the Franchise – what could be more patriotic? Voting seems to be on everyone’s minds right now.

Alabama seeks to inform felons of restored voting rights in jail

Kentucky also ordered the voting rights of 284 felons to be restored.

Kris Kobach, Vice-Chair of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity,  requested that all 50 states send him their voter information by July 14 so that the Commission can create a national voter registry to prevent what he claims is rampant voter fraud.

Unfortunately, rather than creating a process to make it easier for voters to register and vote, the Commission’s goal appears to be to selectively disenfranchise voters. The good news is that 45 states now have refused to provide part or all of the information requested. President Trump is not pleased, and has let us know this in his usual way.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, KY Secretary of State said that there is  “not enough bourbon in Kentucky” to make  Trump’s request seem sensible.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann suggested that, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from…”

Floridians are also petitioning to restore voting rights to felons.

Colorado’s Secretary of State Wayne Williams is trying to have it both ways  –  comply with Trump’s request, while still protecting the privacy of Colorado voters by supplying only publicly available information. Many voters are choosing to keep their data confidential by filing a form and paying $5 at the Secretary of State’s Office.

Voters seldom commit fraud in Colorado – but when they do, they are usually Republicans.

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Good News! June 23-30, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine.

This week, it’s all about healthcare and the resistance to the BCRA Wealthcare bill.  We’ve come too far to give up now. Keep our eyes on the prize:  A public healthcare system like every other industrialized country has.

Healthcare, the ACA, and the Senate Wealthcare bill

The Senate Democrats fought hard to keep the BCRA, aka Trump’s Wealthcare bill, from being voted on without hearings or public input. It was good to see some Senate backbone on display.

Hawaii’s Maisie Hirono led  filibustering on the Senate floor.

Our own Senator Bennet spoke at length,  outlining what’s at stake in this health care bill.

But – we don’t know what Cory Gardner really thinks about the Senate healthcare bill he supposedly helped to draft. Right now, he looks to be in the “Yes on BCRA” camp, because he pretends that insurance costs will go down with the Senate bill.  However, Cowardly Cory will not give his constituents the courtesy of in-person meetings or town halls to discuss his position. Even when said constituents try really, really hard.

To keep the heat on, keep contacting

Senator Bennet: Contact Us

Senator Gardner: Contact Cory*

More good news about healthcare in Colorado: we get to keep all of our insurance brokers next year, said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar. No Colorado counties will be without an insurance provider, according to the Summit Daily News.

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Good News! June 16-23, 2017

(Because Lord knows we can use some – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This was a hard week to write “Good News” for. Still, there was some.

Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine.

This week, it’s all about the heat, voters, immigrant rights, cannabis, and beer. Farmer’s markets. Buying local. No sports news, because the only sports I halfway understand are basketball and baseball. Anything else, I’m the one looking at you to see when to stand up and cheer.

Environmental / energy

It’s freaking hot in Colorado, especially on the western slope , down south, and in Denver, but the head of the EPA won’t say if climate change is a hoax, although his boss says it is.

Good news: It’s not as hot as Phoenix’s 119 degrees . Even AZ Sen. McCain thinks this global warming thing is the real deal.   Plastic mailboxes are melting in Arizona – it’s that hot.  (Photo from reddit, via Buzzfeed)

 

MacGregor Ranch is piloting a program to work closely with the NRCS to cut underbrush and mitigate wildfire risk, since it is so freaking hot in Colorado. Drought and wildfires are the two main hazards Colorado experiences from climate change. Here’s the video from the pilot project.

Virgin Mobile and several other big retailers are planning to conserve energy by running their trucking fleets more efficiently.

Coal India, the world’s largest coal mining company, will shut down 37 of its mines that are no longer economically viable. The lost energy will be replaced mainly with solar.

Clean energy jobs remain the fastest-growing employment sector in Colorado  – with 62,000 added last year.  65% of those jobs are in energy efficiency.   This all helps Colorado to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 2.3%.    Rates for youth under 24 were at 6%, and for Hispanics at 5%, still lower than most other states.

There’s still some good fishing around Colorado. Get’em while there’s still water enough to fish in.

And you can drive to your fishing spot on roads you won’t have to pay an extra tax on, per the Colorado Business Coalition. Amendment 267 passed, funding $3 Billion for road repair and maintenance; however, $10 billion was needed. Where will that come from?

The “Dog Days” are  approaching. If you see poor Puddles panting in a hot car, you can break in to save the pet – but not legally,  in Colorado, until August.

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Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine. And that’s fine. Something I’m missing? Add it in the comments.

LGBT:

Massive Marches may move us, but the  biggest and gayest parade this year in Colorado will be Pridefest, this Sunday June 18. Civic Center Park will host the celebration all weekend. For your daily minimum requirement of fabulousness, go to Pridefest Denver. (Photo from 2016 Pridefest, Wikipedia Commons)

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

LGBT hero: One of the Capitol Police agents wounded in the recent terrorist attack in DC was Crystal Griner, a married lesbian woman. Griner and her fellow officers, including David Bailey , rushed the shooter, taking him down and preventing a massacre.

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Jared Polis Shakes Up 2018 Governor’s Race


Big news this Sunday morning from the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews: Congressman Jared Polis of Boulder will run for governor of Colorado in 2018, setting up the biggest Democratic primary in Colorado politics since…well, Polis’ last primary in 2008:

Congressman Jared Polis plans to join the crowded race for governor this week, and in doing so, the Boulder Democrat will advocate a vision for Colorado that tests how far to the left the state has shifted politically in the last decade.

In an interview with The Denver Post, the fifth-term lawmaker said his platform will focus on three initiatives: getting Colorado to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, ensuring parents can access free, full-day preschool or kindergarten for children age 3 and older, and encouraging companies in the state to provide stock options to employees.

“This is a campaign of big, bold ideas, and I’m trying to make them happen,” Polis said. “We want a Colorado that works for everybody.”

Rep. Polis’ run has been anticipated by Democrats for some time, but the final go/no-go was kept pretty close to the vest until this past week. It’s a decision that Polis surely didn’t make lightly, and most certainly reflects polling he’s done showing this race to be winnable for him.

Polis’ great wealth gives him a built-in advantage in any race, but there’s more to a primary between Polis and nominal frontrunner Rep. Ed Perlmutter than who can raise the most money. Polis’ bold campaign theme of 100% renewable energy could resonate with a segment of the Democratic base that’s been discontented for a number of years in Colorado as the battles over oil and gas development along the urbanizing Front Range have escalated. Polis has been a leader in that complicated and fractious battle, and if he retains the trust of the environmental left going into this race it could be a crucial edge.

Obviously, Polis’ entry into the 2018 gubernatorial race forces all of us to reset our calculations here. But the biggest takeaway for today is the fact that Democrats are feeling very good about 2018, and there’s going to be healthy competition for what could be the fruits of an historic victory. Between Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter, Democrats have a choice of two of the biggest names in Colorado politics–and that’s got to feel better than a primary between a district attorney and a couple of unknown rich guys.

Game on, folks.

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Good News! Week of June 3-June 10

(Get More…Gooder! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary, which I hope to publish every Friday, will be all about small victories in the big battles: People doing the right thing for the right reasons. Stories of bravery, generosity, caring, and integrity. Where possible, I’ve connected this to Colorado politics and stories.

This is a selfish project for me – I need to see those small victories and uplifting stories just to keep going as an activist. Without them, it’s too easy to be overwhelmed by the flood of bad news and attacks on democracy and civil rights, and simply stop trying to keep politicians accountable.

There are many “good news” items I haven’t covered; more possible categories for good news are: Race, discrimination, justice, bizarre news, animals, marches, town halls, community organizing, “the resistance”. Where another organization such as ProgressNow Colorado reports on “How to fight back this week”, I’m not going to duplicate coverage. As always, add your own “good news” stories and commentary.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 6)

Do not cuddle up with your chickens. 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…ugh. From the New York Times:

President Trump thrust himself into a bitter Persian Gulf dispute on Tuesday, claiming credit for Saudi Arabia’s move to isolate its smaller neighbor, Qatar, which is a major American military partner.

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” Mr. Trump said in a morning post on Twitter. “Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”

On Monday, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen broke diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar, citing its support for terrorist groups. Mr. Trump, who made the cutting of terrorist funding a centerpiece of his trip to Saudi Arabia in May, said he was responsible…

…Mr. Trump’s Twitter messages also appeared to contradict that of the American ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, who tweeted earlier in the week that Qatar had made “great progress” in curbing financial support for terrorists. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been previously accused of support for extremist militants.

At the Pentagon, some Defense Department officials said they were taken aback by Mr. Trump’s decision to thrust the United States into the middle of a fight with its close partners, particularly given the American military’s deep ties to Qatar.

We can’t even…

 

 If the Super Bowl and Election Day were held at the same time, it might approximate the level of coverage you can expect to see on Thursday when former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. All of the major television networks will cover the Comey hearings LIVE, and you can be sure that there will be many hours worth of follow-up news coverage throughout the rest of the day. Corey’s testimony is scheduled to begin at 8:00 am (MST) on Thursday.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will have dinner tonight at the White House with “Two Scoops” Trump. From the Denver Post:

President Donald Trump plans to discuss foreign policy — including his first overseas trip as chief executive — during a Tuesday night dinner at the White House with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and five other congressional Republicans…

…The dinner also could provide a platform for Gardner to talk about his own overseas travels, including a controversial meeting with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte that Gardner said last week included a discussion of Duterte’s brutal crackdown on drug dealers and users that’s left thousands dead. Trump has praised that bloody approach and has invited Duterte to the White House in the future.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall for this dinner meeting…So, Cory, how about that Duterte fellow?

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 5)

Don’t forget the sunscreen, friends; Climate Change doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. 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 totally winning…the award for most unpopular President ever. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

Trump finds himself in the midst of his worst extended poll run of his presidency. Starting on May 28 when Gallup put his job approval at 42%, Trump has been sliding downward. The latest Gallup track on June 3 put Trump’s job approval at a dismal 36% — a single percentage point away from the lowest ebb of his time in the White House. (On March 28, Trump’s job approval was at 35%.)

The Gallup numbers are no anomaly. A Quinnipiac University poll released in late May put Trump’s job approval at 37%. A Monmouth poll conducted in mid-May put Trump’s job approval at 39%.

Where Trump’s numbers do stand out is compared to his presidential predecessors. President Obama was at 61% in the Gallup tracking poll in early June 2009. George W. Bush was at 55% in Gallup at this time in 2001.

Former President Bill Clinton was polling at 37% in June 1993, which was the lowest mark of his Presidency. Things got better for Clinton after June — his first-term approval ratings averaged out at 50% — but it’s probably more likely that Trump continues his downward trend for the foreseeable future.

 

 Senate Republicans are not encouraged by the prospects of coming up with some sort of healthcare legislation to compare to the nonsense bill produced by the House last month. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among the Senate Republicans tasked with drafting some sort of compromise legislation, which apparently isn’t as easy as just complaining about Obamacare.

 

► It has been nearly seven months since the 2016 election, and there is no sign of waning interest from protestors upset with the Trump administration. As the Denver Post reports:

A few hundred people showed up for Denver’s March for Truth rally at Commons Park Saturday, calling for greater transparency regarding President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia.

The protest was a mix of politically charged speeches, a march through the streets and a concert as protesters sang newly created activist songs, such as “Let the Country See Your Taxes” to the tune of “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” and “We Shall Find the Truth” to the tune of “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

“March for Truth” events were held throughout the country on Saturday. In a separate event in Colorado Springs, about 100 people showed up over the weekend to protest President Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.

 

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Syria, Nicaragua, the United States of America

UPDATE: Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver blasts the decision:

“Pulling out of the Paris Agreement won’t happen overnight, but this announcement’s impact will be immediate: It signals that the United States cannot be counted on to stick to its promises and is prepared to cede leadership in yet another area that is crucial to our future. After ridiculing international trade agreements, failing to stand up firmly for NATO’s Article 5 commitments and treating our traditional alliances with scorn, the president evidently is willing to renege on an accord to which all countries but Syria and Nicaragua have agreed. Why is he looking to alienate the United States? ‘America First’ is turning into ‘America Alone.’

“This step defies scientific consensus about the effects of climate change. It will imperil future generations. And it will empower other countries that honor the Paris Agreement, leading them to create opportunities for innovation and a surging clean energy sector while our country is left in the dust.”

Colorado’s U.S. Senators disagree via Denver7:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D)

“The President made a catastrophic mistake by putting a misguided campaign promise before the needs of our economy and the credibility of American diplomacy. Before this decision, the United States was on track to achieve energy independence, reduce its carbon footprint, and create good-paying jobs in rural communities—with Colorado leading the way. Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement attempts to undercut the progress we have made.

“In Colorado, we will continue working to meet the carbon emissions targets set in the Clean Power Plan. The administration should reverse this shortsighted decision and work to protect our planet, economy, and national security.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R)

“The last Administration never submitted the Paris Climate Agreement to Congress and acted unilaterally. When Congress is bypassed, a president’s orders can be reversed by a future presidential action. The American people deserve to have a say in our energy future and Congress is the appropriate place to debate these important issues. I will continue to work with my colleagues to grow the economy, create jobs, and protect the environment for future generations of Coloradans.”

—–

Take that, world!

President Trump announced today that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement originally finalized in 2015. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump announced Thursday afternoon that he is withdrawing the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement, a move that honors a campaign promise but risks rupturing global alliances and disappointing both environmentalists and corporate titans.

But Trump said he would seek to negotiate a new climate deal that is, in his view, “fair” to America’s interests…

…The U.S. exit from the climate pact could raise doubts about the commitment of the world’s largest economy to curbing global warming and make it more difficult to hold other nations to their environmental commitments.

All but two countries — Nicaragua and Syria — signed onto the 2015 accord, which was a signature diplomatic achievement for President Barack Obama. [Pols emphasis]

Trump was preparing to make his decision official in remarks from the Rose Garden at the White House. The atmosphere was celebratory, with a military band performing “Summertime” and other jazz hits as Cabinet members, White House staffers, conservative activists and other Trump supporters took their seats in the garden under the warm sun.

As David A. Andelman writes for CNN, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement has repercussions well beyond Climate Change:

“America First” is becoming increasingly America alone. Somehow, Donald Trump has managed, with a single, desperate and ill-conceived stroke, to sever the United States from the rest of the world.

I was astonished 18 months ago to witness at the Le Bourget conference center outside Paris the extraordinary spectacle of nearly 200 countries actually agreeing on one central aspect of life on our planet — the need to control the pollutants that are wreaking havoc on our decaying atmosphere and our climate.

Suddenly, now, it’s the United States against everyone else on Earth.

Syria. Nicaragua. The United States of America.

And everybody else.

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New Firestone Findings, Second Explosion Deepen Gaspatch Crisis

Two new and concerning stories going into Memorial Day weekend promise to keep the controversy over oil and gas drilling in proximity to homes and other surface development in Colorado red-hot–the first being a frightening update from the Firestone neighborhood where a home exploded last month after unrefined gas from a leaking flowline seeped into the structure:

Two high concentration pockets of flammable methane gas have been found underneath a street in Firestone’s Oak Meadows neighborhood, where one house already exploded, according to the state’s vapor test findings.

Mitigation is underway, with PVC venting and extraction systems set up in both locations, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission spokesman Todd Hartman confirmed.

“Monitoring point data indicate that methane in soil is not migrating to occupied residences,” a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission presentation says…

Both sites are located along a flow line attaching the oil and gas well linked to the house explosion and its production collection battery to the west.

The presence of additional seeps of methane in the immediate area of last month’s home explosion could be seen as confirmation of residents’ worst fears–mitigated by the fact that authorities are already on the scene dealing with the previous disaster, which could be the only reason these new seeps were detected. Testing continues to determine if other gas seeps are present in the area, and to what extent they could threaten the neighborhood built over the wells.

The second story? Another fatal explosion yesterday, this one just a few miles north of Firestone at an Anadarko-owned storage facility, as the Colorado Independent reports:

One worker was killed and three injured near Mead when an oil tank battery exploded [Thursday] afternoon.

The facility, which stores extracted oil and gas awaiting transport, is owned and operated by Anadarko Petroleum, which also owns the improperly abandoned gas flowline that investigators say caused the deadly house explosion in Firestone last month…

Mountain View Fire Battalion Chief Roger Rademacher said three workers working near the tank battery were injured and transported by ambulance. One has serious injuries and the two others are moderately injured. Sheriff’s officials confirmed early this evening that a fourth worker was killed in the blast.

By 6 p.m., police cars had blocked all access roads to the facility. A family, accompanied by a man in a hardhat, could be seen weeping near a road next to the site of the blast. They asked to be left alone and not to be photographed.

The unfortunate fact is that accidents involving oil and gas workers are much more common than disasters like last month’s home explosion in Firestone. Each year there are fatalities from accidents like the one at Anadarko’s storage facility in Mead yesterday. But coming so quickly after the Firestone home explosion and relatively close by, yesterday’s fatal explosion only adds to a freshly growing sense of unease among the public.

Against the backdrop of these events you have an energy industry working overtime to contain the public relations damage, and to mitigate possible regulatory responses that could impact profitability of energy producers. Energy industry PR responses to these events closely parallel lobbying by the gun industry following mass shootings: affected sympathy for victims, followed by expressions of futility in preventing such accidents.

To which we can only say, much like in 2013 when horrific mass shootings finally motivated Colorado lawmakers to take action on gun safety, there comes a point when the body count overcomes the lack of political will.

And that day may be fast approaching.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 16)

Greetings, comrades! Let us commence with today’s lesson plan. 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’s administration is crumbling faster than Cory Gardner can flee a constituent. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, news that Trump passed highly-confidential information to the Russians just might be the proverbial back-breaking straw on this here camel:

In a number of conversations Monday evening with Republican House members and GOP strategists, there was a widespread feeling that this time Trump might have gone too far…

…consider the following five things Trump has done since coming into office: 1) Twice failed to enact a travel ban 2) Engaged in an extended argument over crowd size at his inauguration 3) Falsely accused then-President Barack Obama of wire-tapping Trump Tower during the election 4) Took 18 days to get rid of national security adviser MIchael Flynn after being informed Flynn was compromised by the Russians 5) Fired Comey, even as he was overseeing the Russia investigation.

Any ONE of those are the sort of thing that would be a major slip-up in any other administration — and might lead to defections from within the president’s own party.  All five of them — plus the new revelations regarding classified information being shared with two top Russian officials — is something close to an avalanche of political malpractice.

How much more can — or will — congressional Republicans take?

If you’re looking for answers as to why Trump would have divulged such sensitive information to the Russians, there aren’t a lot of plausible answers.

If you’re looking for a response to this growing crisis from Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)…well, good luck with that. But Gardner has certainly painted himself into a corner with his previous bold declarations about national security.

Actually, if you’re looking for a response from any Colorado Republicans, you’re not alone.

 

► Things would have to improve at the White House before you could even begin to use the word “disarray.” From the Washington Post:

This time it did not even take 24 hours for Donald Trump to throw his staffers under the bus and contradict their denials.

The president revealed highly classified (code word) information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador during an Oval Office meeting last week, potentially endangering a coveted intelligence asset, compromising a crucial alliance and undermining the war effort against the Islamic State.

After The Post broke the story, senior White House aides quickly denied it. “I was in the room. It didn’t happen,” said national security adviser H.R. McMaster. “This story is false,” added Dina Powell, his deputy.

Then, on Twitter this morning, Trump essentially acknowledged that The Post’s reporting is accurate, defended his decision to share the information and complained about the leak that allowed what he’d done to get out.

Working for Trump at the White House certainly appears to be nothing short of awful. It can’t help that Trump’s approval ratings continue to drop and the public is demanding a special prosecutor to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia.

 

► Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, also the second-longest-serving Attorney General in Colorado history, is apparently no longer on a short list to become the next FBI Director. We’re sure Suthers is absolutely (not) despondent to learn that he won’t be next in line to manage this particular shit show.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 11)

Humpty Dumpty done fell off the wall. 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 and White House officials are falling all over themselves trying to explain away Tuesday’s surprise firing of FBI Director Jim Comey. As Greg Sargent writes for the Washington Post:

For all the talk about the unusual nature of President Trump’s decision to fire James Comey, it actually fits comfortably into a well-established pattern that has defined this presidency from its very first day. Trump makes an emotional, impulsive assertion or decision — and then his underlings are forced into a wild scramble to produce a rationale or justification for it.

In this pattern, the decision or assertion often originated in the same place — deep in the recesses of Trump’s entangled megalomania and sneaking dread of the illegitimacy of his presidency. And the Comey firing, it turns out, may not be an exception to this.

This conclusion is bolstered by some great new reporting this morning on the Trumpian thought processes (if you can call them that) leading to the firing of the FBI director. The reporting reduces the White House’s original spin on the firing — that Trump decided to fire Comey after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, presented a case rooted in his handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails — to a pile of smoking rubble. [Pols emphasis]

Meanwhile, media accounts are increasingly portraying President Trump as isolated and trapped in his own “cable TV news bubble,” which is probably not good.

Here’s another indication of how bad this thing has become: Press Secretary Sean Spicer is literally hiding in the bushes outside of the White House.

 

► Arizona Sen. John McCain said after the Comey firing that he expected “more shoes to drop,” and the footwear indeed appears to be falling. As Politico and other news outlets are reporting, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made a surprise appearance on Capitol Hill today:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was seen arriving at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s secure office spaces Thursday afternoon. Sources told POLITICO Rosenstein had requested to meet with the Intelligence Committee leaders, Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), who both hastily left an open, televised committee hearing for what Burr said was a meeting “we can’t push off.”

Rosenstein’s request for the meeting came after President Donald Trump unceremoniously fired FBI Director James Comey, citing a three-page letter from Rosenstein questioning the director’s fitness to serve. It also came amid reports that Rosenstein, a well-regarded federal prosecutor, was furious over the White House’s characterization of his apparent recommendation and even threatened to quit.

That sound you hear is the collective tightening of sphincters at the White House. It’s hard to see how this entire situation doesn’t get worse for Trump and defenders like Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). At the very least, Comey’s firing has sucked all of the oxygen out of the room for Republicans trying to talk about anything else.

 

► The 2017 Colorado legislative session is complete. Er, finished. You know what we mean. As John Frank and Brian Eason report for the Denver Post:

The bipartisan agreements included measures to preserve the hospital provider fee program, avert potentially catastrophic cuts to rural hospitals, find new money for highway construction, increase per-pupil education spending, and make it harder to sue for construction defects.

For each bill, the final result is less than what lawmakers hoped to accomplish but represented significant progress after failing to reach accords for years.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 9)

Golfball-sized hail is just God cleaning out his ice maker. 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…

► Legislation introduced last week that would seek to compel oil and gas companies to provide public records of “flowlines” — pipelines that carry natural gas from wellheads to a collection point — has been defeated in the state legislature after a Republican filibuster. House Bill 17-1372, sponsored by Reps. Mike Foote (D-Lafayetter) and Steve Lebsock (D-Thornton), was essentially killed when House Republicans extended their arguments toward a midnight deadline for the bill to move along to the State Senate.

 

► State Sen. Jim Smallwood (R-Parker) officially killed his own legislation intended to eliminate the Colorado Health Exchange. As Ed Sealover reports for the Denver Business Journal:

The move was met by applause from Democrats on the Senate floor and groans from Republicans.

Smallwood said afterward that he wanted to spend the summer working on the bill in ways that could bring meaningful change to the state-chartered exchange, which has struggled financially. That could mean finding a way to garner bipartisan support for the measure, or it could mean finding a way for Connect for Health to attract more insurers and to make more significant steps in slowing the growth of health-care costs in Colorado, he said.

Senate Bill 3 was introduced early in the 2017 legislative session as a priority for Senate Republicans, but the GOP made little effort to actually move forward with the bill after encountering still opposition from vocal Coloradans amid Congressional blundering on repealing Obamacare.

 

► The Director of the FBI, James Comey, has apparently stepped in the mud (again). As CNN reports:

FBI Director James Comey erroneously told Congress last week that former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin “forwarded hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop — and the bureau is looking for a way to clean up his error, according to officials familiar with the matter.

According to Comey, Clinton’s emails had been forwarded to the computer of Abedin’s husband, former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner. But US officials told CNN last fall the majority of the thousands of emails reviewed by the FBI got to Weiner’s computer via a backup system for Abedin’s phone.

In Comey’s testimony, however, he suggested “hundreds and thousands” of emails had been deliberately sent directly from Abedin to Weiner’s computer. While some of those emails may have been sent directly from Huma in order to be printed, officials told CNN, the number was far fewer than the amount Comey described.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (May 1)

If someone left a bouquet of May Day flowers on your front door today, we want to hear about it. Seriously. 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 has come to agreement on a budget proposal that will keep the federal government funded through September. As the Washington Post reports, President Trump got absolutely rolled on the negotiations:

Perhaps the best negotiators are not the people who tell everyone that they are the best negotiators.

A spending agreement was reached last night that will keep the government funded through the end of September. This will be the first significant bipartisan measure passed by Congress since Donald Trump took office.

The White House agreed to punt on a lot of the president’s top priorities until this fall to avert a shutdown on Friday and to clear the deck so that the House can pass a health-care bill…

…But Democrats are surprised by just how many concessions they extracted in the trillion-dollar deal, considering that Republicans have unified control of government.

 

► Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are casting this week as the last real chance to approve a potential plan to repeal Obamacare. The White House is taking its usual blustery stance about having enough votes from Republicans to pass a bill out of the House, though the outlook is not so rosy when you ask Congressional leaders. It is unclear whether House Republicans have enough support from moderates to pass something along to the Senate, and there is little reason to believe that any potential legislation could move at all if it were to land in the Senate.

The main sticking point in the current healthcare negotiations revolves around pre-existing conditions. Trump maintains that any new Obamacare repeal “will be every bit as good on preexisting conditions as Obamacare.” But in order to gain the support of right-wing Republicans, such as the Freedom Caucus, Congressional Republicans are actually trying to gut protections for pre-existing conditions.

 

► By the end of the day today, there will be little evidence left of a weekend snowstorm in the Denver metro area. But it did snow — quite a bit, in fact — and the weather didn’t stop a huge crowd from turning out in Denver in support of efforts to combat Climate Change. Thousands of people showed up at Civic Center Park on Saturday to take part in a march and rally that was also happening simultaneously in more than 300 cities around the world.

 

► Republicans in the State Senate are crowing about a new budget proposal in an effort to pretend that they are actually interested in governing. From John Frank of the Denver Post:

Colorado’s top lawmakers are negotiating a far-reaching measure in the final days of the legislative session that is designed to save hospitals from major budget cuts, generate $1.8 billion for road repairs and lower the state’s spending cap.

Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, unveiled the details early Monday after days of closed-door negotiations with top Democratic lawmakers. But moments after he announced an agreement on the legislation, an aide passed him a note from Democrats that declared no deal.

We don’t doubt that many Democrats aren’t happy with this latest funding proposal, considering some of the nonsense included in Sonnenberg’s bill:

The latest negotiations include requiring the maximum federal co-pay for Medicaid, the government-funded health care program for people with low-income, as well as a cut to the business personal property tax for small business owners, up to $25,000. Other provisions would change how TABOR refunds are issued and funnel more money to rural schools.

Republican lawmakers continue to insist that there is plenty of money hidden away in government coffers that could pay for everything if they could just move some decimal points around here and there. Note also how Republicans would include a tax cut for businesses alongside a big new financial burden for low-income Coloradans.

 

 

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“Snow Globe” Climate March Draws Thousands

As the Denver Post’s Hayley Sanchez reports, a little April snow can’t get Colorado down:

Dressed in snow boots and ski clothes, demonstrators chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go,” and “This what democracy looks like.” The messages on some signs dripped in the wet snow but others’ stayed legible and said, “The U.S. must deal with climate change,” and “I’m with her” with arrows pointing to a picture of the Earth…

Denver’s march was just one of 300 sister marches planned across the world and in cities like Los Angeles, Dallas, and Washington, D.C., where more than 100,000 protested in near-record heat. People also used the demonstration to protest President Trump’s environmental policies on his 100th day in office.

“Where do I even start?” said Kate Paradis, a resident of Boulder, thinking about how concerned she was about Trump’s new policies and holding a giant banner with her husband, David Paradis, that read, “We stand with Standing Rock.”

“These giant corporations and the fossil fuel industry, the GOP and politicians, they’re all working together,” she said. “Trump was right when he said (Washington, D.C.) was corrupt, but he’s not helping us get out of the swamp. I feel climate change is urgent and if we don’t take action now, we’re doomed.”

Several thousand demonstrators arrived in Civic Center Park yesterday morning despite about six inches of snow on the ground. Locals are of course well aware that it routinely snows in April in Colorado, even after one of the mildest winters anyone can remember as we had on the Front Range this year. Nonetheless, climate science deniers coast to coast used the supposed irony of a “climate march in the snow” to distract from, among other things, the hundred thousand or so who marched in sweltering 90-degree heat in Washington yesterday.

This is where we remind everyone again that the weather on any given day does not tell you enough about the climate, or climate change, to crack wise–especially a day of weather in Colorado. It can snow in April in Colorado and climate change is a reality. There is nothing mutually exclusive about it.

Also, turning out in bad weather is a sport for Coloradans. Ask any Broncos fan.

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Denver To Trump: Back Off Man, We Like Science


Denver Post reporting, but you were probably there from the look of it:

Thousands of scientists and science supporters joined the March For Science through downtown Denver Saturday in the city’s largest rally since the Women’s March in January.

In cities across the globe — as close as Boulder and as far away as Washington D.C. and a German scientific enclave in Antarctica — marchers showed support for evidence-based and science-based public policy, protested potential cuts to federally-funded research and expressed disappointment with the White House’s response to climate change…

Marchers were a mix of younger and older people who traveling from across Colorado, including Boulder, Durango and Bailey. Some were scientists and teachers while others were students and science enthusiasts.

The Colorado Independent’s Kelsey Ray:

President Donald Trump has been notably outspoken against climate change and environmental research. His budget blueprint, essentially a wish list for budget boosts and cuts, proposed slashing EPA funding by 30 percent and reducing funds for environmental research agencies like the National Oceanic and Environmental Administration.

In the lead-up to the march, numerous editorials questioned the premise of scientists acting as activists. Is there a place in science for activism? Should scientists speak about political issues? Perhaps fearful of backlash and further cuts, most government-funded research agencies have forbid their employees from talking about politics.

Many of those at the march, particularly the career scientists, had considered these questions. But they ultimately decided that recent political attacks on climate science were too worrisome not to show up.

We haven’t seen a reliable crowd estimate for yesterday’s march in Denver, but it was certainly in the tens of thousands, and as reported easily the biggest protest march since the Women’s March held a day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Much like the Women’s March, we’ve seen some attempts by Trump supporters to argue the march had no specific target, and that Trump supporters would have had as much reason to attend a March for Science as anybody else.

Against the backdrop of Trump’s huge proposed cuts to federal scientific research of all kinds, and especially research into climate change, this notion is preposterous–as much as claiming the Women’s March wasn’t a direct result of the fact that a man who bragged about sexual assault is now President of the United States. Here in Colorado, home to such a large number of critical federal scientific research facilities, we know very well what the threat is, and who is behind it.

And it looks like the whole rest of the world knows, too.

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Lamborn would “probably” vote to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO Springs) told a conservative talk-radio host Monday that he’d “probably vote” to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency, if he had the opportunity, even though he does not think it’s currently “in the cards to get rid of EPA completely.”

“But right now, it’s not in the cards to get rid of EPA completely.  And I would probably vote for that, because I trust states like Colorado to step in and do it anyway,” Lamborn told KVOR radio host Doug Lamborn April 10. “But while we have the EPA, at least have them not destroy jobs, and have multiple layers of bureaucracy, like Waters of the U.S.  That’s a job killer.”

“We had Gina McCarthy of EPA come in front of us,” Lamborn said on air. ” And I told her, ‘You know, in my district and in my part of the world, my part of the country, Gina, people despise you and the EPA. ‘What are you doing wrong that they despise you?’  And she just said, ‘We’re just doing our job.’ She didn’t even understand.”

Lamborn mentioned the Gold King disaster, but he’s also upset over an EPA and Colorado Department of Health lawsuit alleging stormwater violations.

“There is this weird lawsuit that EPA brought against Colorado Springs, even though we’re doing our best to mitigate the storm water issues that affect Pueblo and other downstream users of the water,” said Lamborn, not mentioning the health department’s participation in the suit.

“And, in fact, there are plans – we don’t have a final plan, but there are plans to spend maybe hundreds of millions of dollars to be responsible there.  And yet the EPA sues us, which means money that could have gone to that is going to be tied up with lawyers and paying fines, perhaps.  It doesn’t help solve the problem!”

But Colorado Springs wasn’t adequately addressing the problem itself, according to the he EPA suit, which found longstanding and repeated violations.

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