Rural Endorsement: Mark Udall For US Senate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ten years ago we went to the ballot box and passed the first-ever citizens-initiated renewable portfolio standard in the nation, Amendment 37.  Under the leadership of its bi-partisan co-chairs Mark Udall and Lola Spradley, the initiative put a solid foundation under what would emerge as Colorado's 'New Energy Economy'.  Today, Colorado enjoys the second-highest RPS in the nation, a 30% goal by 2020 (which will be met early).  Today, an estimated 4,000 Coloradans are employed our wind sector – almost 200 times more than the promised 22 permanent jobs that would be created by the Keystone pipeline – with nearly six billion dollars invested in wind projects across rural Colorado.

The net effects of those investments touch the lives of both rural and urban Coloradans each and every day: rural areas enjoy the bounty of the increased tax base, offering the opportunity to both lower local property taxes overall, and to provide new revenue streams for local economic development.  Urban consumers benefit from ever-decreasing costs of wholesale power to their investor-owned utility.  Rural counties are re-energized with the wind farm developments.

As an early supporter of the national agricultural alliance, "25x'25", Udall was instrumental in adding a 25% national renewable goal in to The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  In the headwinds of conservative opposition to clean energy (including Congressman Gardner on ideological principles), Udall now champions a national renewable standard, "25x'25", which would create an estimated 300,000 new jobs, mostly in rural America,  provide $13.5 billion to farmers, ranchers and other landowners in the form of lease payments and add $11.5 billion in new local tax revenues.

It's important to understand the merits of good public policy, and Mark Udall is at the tip of that spear.  Wind energy is the cheapest form of renewable energy today; in the case of the expanding Cedar Point wind farm near Limon, the Vestas turbines stand tall; "Made in Colorado" turbines, planted on the Colorado Prairie, creating rural jobs while simultaneously generating Xcel Energy's cheapest power.  Being an early adopter of clean energy coupled with our successes in the Ritter Administration's  "New Energy Economy",  Colorado is well-poised to meet the proposed EPA emission standards with ease.

It's a Win(d)-Win(d)-Win(d) situation.

So when our state newspaper of record asks, "What has Mark Udall done for us lately?", it's as simple as looking at your utility bill – or the revenue statements from your county treasurer.   It would be hard to find a single, political initiative that has touched the daily lives of more Coloradans in a more positive way.

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If “Dr. Chaps” Is “Center Right,” We Are All Screwed

FRIDAY UPDATE: We can't explain the Gazette's milquetoast profile (below) of Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, but reporter Megan Schrader has reported quite a bit of Klingenschmitt's craziness over the last few months–and posted this latest one late yesterday:

Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Colorado Springs state House candidate who has gotten attention from making controversial statements, told three members of the Colorado Springs lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community he would only meet with them after the election and only if his "security staff" screened the attendees first to determine whether or not it would be a "safe meeting."

Who would be unsafe here, exactly? And are we the only ones who consider it a little freaky that a guy like Klingenschmitt has, you know, "security staff?"

—–

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

The Colorado Springs Gazette published a profile of the HD-15 race today, which as our readers know is a longshot bid by Democrat Lois Fornander against the winner of the GOP primary to succeed Rep. Mark Waller in this heavily GOP district, Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt. Even before, but especially since winning his primary, Klingenschmitt has made national press for over-the-top extreme views expressed on his Youtube video program–such as his belief that Obamacare "causes cancer," and the FCC is allowing "demonic spirits" to "visually rape your children." Most recently, Klingenschmitt's claim that Rep. Jared Polis was about to "join ISIS in beheading Christians" provoked condemnation from both sides of the aisle–but no push from Republicans for Klingenschmitt to exit the HD-15 race.

From the read of today's Gazette profile, it looks like the plan is now to sanitize Klingenschmitt, not push him out:

The competition for Colorado House of Representatives District 15 features two newcomers who say their opponent is too extreme…

"He does not represent this district," [Fornander] added. "I don't understand how people can support him."

Voter support, however, looks to be in favor of her challenger [Pols emphasis] for the seat now held by Rep. Mark Waller, a Republican who is not seeking re-election.

…Klingenschmitt, an Air Force Academy graduate, believes his views represent the district, which includes eastern Colorado Springs and Peterson Air Force Base.

He believes local control in education, lower taxes and less regulation for businesses and a protection of constitutional rights are the biggest issues in the upcoming election.

"My opponent is far more extreme on the left than I am in the center right," Klingenschmitt said. [Pols emphasis]

The profile does mention in passing Klingenschmitt's remarks about Rep. Polis, but nothing else from the long list of other objectively crazy things "Dr. Chaps" has said on his show. It's very difficult to take Klingenschmitt's claim that he is part of the "center right" seriously if you know the things he very routinely says. But short of a detailed exposure in the media of those statements before the election, it's just as hard to imagine how Lois Fornander can win in a district with more than twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats.

If that's how it plays out, the real disaster for Republicans may be when "Dr." Chaps is sworn in as Representative Chaps next January.

Gardner’s Debate Disaster, Part 3: Just Answer Yes or No

The New Republic's Rebecca Leber reports on another brutal moment for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner at this week's Denver Post debate–in which Gardner was unable to give a simple yes-or-no answer to the question of humanity's role in global climate change.

Tuesday, Gardner refused to answer a yes or no question on whether humans are causing climate change. Insisting the response would be too complicated, he told a (reportedly) pro-Democratic crowd that, "I believe that the climate is changing, I disagree to the extent that it's been in the news." And Gardner isn’t the only Colorado Republican struggling with these issues. During a debate in late September, Mike Coffman, a congressman seeking reelection, got into trouble answering the same question of whether climate change is real. First he said, “No,” then he said, “Don’t know,” during a round of rapid-fire questioning…

As tedious as it may seem to keep reminding Republicans that climate change science really isn’t such a mystery, it’s important that candidates are getting asked for their views. It reveals just how hard the GOP politicians are trying to sound reasonable, even as they reject science. For a while, the clichéd Republican response was “the climate is always changing.” Later it became, "I'm not scientist." Tomorrow it will probably be something else. Reporters should keep asking these questions, and watching Republicans tie themselves into such rhetorical knots. At some point, hopefully, the voters will notice.

Gardner's attempt to "gum to death" what should have been a straightforward answer, in a debate marked by repeated attempts to bluster past questions central to Gardner's campaign like his Obamacare "cancellation" and support for measures that could ban birth control, helped cement the impression in the audience that Gardner just doesn't feel any need to be straight with voters. Gardner's non-answers to specific questions about his health insurance policy were plainly meant to evade, and we've already gone into detail about Gardner's disastrous attempt to "Jedi Mind Trick" his continuing sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act–an abortion ban bill that could have the same consequences for certain forms of "abortifacient" birth control as the state Personhood measures he claims to no longer support. Here we have a case of Gardner trying to evade the damage that a simple yes or no answer would do–but his decision to bicker with the moderators instead of answering the question only makes him look worse.

It's another situation where, for all of Gardner's alleged oratorical skill, he comes off looking like a say-anything weasel. We'll freely admit that the failure of Gardner to defend himself under scrutiny, now that the press is finally asking him the hard questions, surprises us. 

However you feel about the issues, we honestly thought Gardner was better at the argumentation. But he's not.

Gardner’s Weasely Flip-Flop on Human-Caused Climate Change

Was that what you wanted to hear? Good.

Was that what you wanted to hear? Good.

Politico's James Hohmann reports from yesterday's debate between Sen. Mark Udall and GOP challenger Cory Gardner, moderated by Manu Raju:

“Carbon pollution is real,” said Udall. “We’re prepared to put a price on carbon … I support putting a price on carbon.”

Gardner repeatedly pressed Udall to say what exact price he would put on carbon, but the senator declined. The Republican acknowledged that humans play a role in global warming and said he supports trying to reduce carbon emissions, but he said it cannot be done in a way that kills jobs.

“There is no doubt that pollution contributes to the climate changing around us,” said Gardner… [Pols emphasis]

As Huffington Post's Sabrina Siddiqui notes for the record and our readers know well, that's a big change from what Cory Gardner has said in the past about humanity's impact on global climate change:

Democrats were quick to point out that in January of this year, Gardner voted against an amendment that would have explicitly stated that climate change is real. The measure, which failed to clear the House Energy and Commerce Committee, stated that "Congress accepts the scientific finding of the Environmental Protection Agency (contained in the proposed rule referred to in section 4(2)) that '[g]reenhouse gas (GHG) pollution threatens the American public’s health and welfare by contributing to long-lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment."

Gardner also rejected the theory of man-made climate change as a Colorado state representative in 2010. "I think the climate is changing, but I don't believe humans are causing that change to the extent that's been in the news," he said at the time. [Pols emphasis]

Much like when Gardner was caught red-handed lying to voters about his record on renewable energy, we assume there's some kind of semantic interpretation of his exact words that will allow Gardner's campaign to claim this is not the wholesale reversal on this issue it plainly appears to be. When cornered with the fact that the bill Gardner claimed he "cowrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry" had failed to result in a single renewable energy project, you'll recall his campaign responded that the ad says he wrote the bill "to launch," not "that launched" the industry. The tacit admission in their defense that the entire premise of the ad was false didn't even faze the Gardner campaign, and the ad continued to run for weeks afterward. To us, this seems like a very odd way to run for office, but Gardner has kept this race competitive close all summer. So clearly it's a tactic that has worked in the short term.

Unfortunately for Gardner, that only works so many times. With only very few exceptions, the press has stopped buying Gardner's reversals uncritically, and the fact that he's objectively not being honest is finally sticking in the public consciousness. And now, adding climate change to a growing list of issues, Gardner has gifted Democrats the means to defeat him–by living up to the charge that he will say anything to get elected.

Durango Herald Rips Gardner In Powerful Udall Endorsement

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

'Tis the season for newspaper editorial board endorsements. As always, we want to make clear that we won't be posting links to every endorsement published by every newspaper in Colorado, despite the perennial requests we get each election cycle to do so. There's far too many, and frankly, most of them are not newsworthy. But we did want to bring attention to the Durango Herald's endorsement of Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall this past weekend, which struck us as notable for its unusually strong words about GOP opponent Cory Gardner:

Udall has been relentlessly beating up his opponent over Gardner’s support for “personhood” legislation – similar to Amendment 67 – which would give 14th Amendment rights to each “preborn human person” and in the process ban all abortions and some forms of birth control. Udall’s attacks are becoming repetitive, but the offensive is understandable. Gardner gave him the stick.

The congressman has backed away from Amendment 67 and previous state personhood efforts and has been trying to deny his support for a similar federal push. But he remains a sponsor of the federal Life Begins at Conception Act and his insistence that “there is no federal personhood bill” earned him FactCheck.org’s “Whopper of the Week” award.

Gardner’s dogged support for personhood says one of two things about him. Either his position on women’s rights is far out of the Colorado mainstream or the congressman will say anything for a vote. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner’s appeal is his youthful exuberance – he turned 40 in August – and what Newsweek called “his likeable personality, which helps insulate him from his conservative record in Congress and in the Colorado Legislature before that.” The fact is, though, people espouse extreme ideas, such as “personhood,” either because they are ideologically committed or because they are deeply cynical. Colorado needs neither.

Often it's the case that newspapers will offer consoling words to the candidate they choose not to endorse, especially in a race that's very close–after all, editorial boards think of themselves as representative of the community they serve, and any endorsement in a close race are certain to upset a good percentage of one's readers. Remember also that in most cases, these endorsements are written by editorial boards who have sat down with the candidates and asked them about whatever they think is important. Endorsements represent, among other things, the conclusions of those face-to-face meetings.

We get the feeling reading this that Cory Gardner really failed to impress the Durango Herald editorial board.

Over the last few weeks, Gardner's trustworthiness has taken an enormous hit as the media finally arrived at a consensus that he is not telling the truth about his position on abortion and birth control. Exposure in multiple outlets of both Gardner's continued sponsorship of federal legislation that would have the same effect as the "Personhood" state initiatives he publicly abandoned right after getting into the Senate race, and his broken-record denial "there is no federal Personhood bill" that no one–not even the bill's authors–will back Gardner up on, has created a story that's bigger than the issue of abortion. This is now a story of how voters can't trust Cory Gardner no matter where they stand.

In this long and costly Senate race, many themes have been tested and discarded. Udall's campaign and allies have hammered away at Gardner's position on abortion and birth control, even to the point of criticism, because Gardner opened himself to a devastating attack: first by "acknowledging" a problem, Personhood's potential effects on contraception, that had been known for years, and to many proponents wasn't a problem at all. Then, Gardner's failure to remove himself from federal legislation that everyone except Gardner says is equivalent to the state Personhood abortion bans in its effects, left him vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy–or worse, that his original act of disavowing Personhood was nothing more than a contrivance.

Bottom line: the damage attacking Gardner relentlessly on abortion has done with women voters is critical, but it segues into an even bigger point Democrats need to drive home right now: Gardner's untrustworthiness in general. The recent embarrassing debunking of an ad from Gardner on renewable energy, in which he claims to have "cowrote the law to launch our state's green energy industry" when in fact the law he "cowrote" was repealed in failure having not funded a single project, was a very similar exposure of Gardner just flat-out lying to voters. In the end, it is a general sense that Gardner simply can't be trusted on any issue that could spell his doom on Election Night more than any individual issue. Over the next few weeks, Democrats have a golden opportunity to turn the asset of Gardner's Dealin' Doug smile into his biggest liability. The stage is set.

And if they do that, Udall wins this thing.

Redstate: Women love security, Climate Marchers are Evil, 6/9 of tossup Sen states lean Dem in 10/5 Yougov poll

I like to know what conservative pundits are saying to each other about politics. When conservatives talk to liberals, it tends to be so hostile, condescending, and designed to provoke emotional responses, aka trolling, that it isn’t very useful for discerning actual thinking and points of view. 

Hence, I listen to Redstate’s weekly briefings, and distill them here for you. In this one, Redstate host Aaron Gardner, bloggers Joe Cunningham, Caleb Howe, and Thomas LaDuke discuss national Senate races, agree that Islam is an evil religion, and that the quest to find moderate Arabian allies is futile, and most of all, enjoy mocking and insulting the 400,000 people who participated in the recent Climate Marches.

September 28 Weekly Update

Much of this hour-long chat hosted by Redstate's Aaron Gardner, was about Senate Races. These conservative pundits and bloggers are slightly more upbeat about their chances for taking the Senate this week.

Moe Lane says that Jodi Ernst will win her contest in Iowa, and that GOP will pick up 53 seats in the House. Oh joy.

At 4:46, Cunningham, talking about the Landrieu/ Cassidy LA race, says that “It depends on what magic Sarah Palin can run” -  seriously…

Aaron Gardner says that Colorado is "looking good" for Senate and Governor.  Really? I can see Senate being close, but Governor?

In North Carolina, in spite or perhaps because of their best voter suppression efforts, Kay Hagan is up 3 against her opponent, Tillis.  Hagan's hubby, and Tillis,  took stimulus money, but Hagan's hubby's stimulus-taking is obviously more evil b/c she's a Democrat.

In Arkansas, Cotton is up 7 against his Democratic opponent, Mark Pryor.

A caller named Omar Hasan asked about the war in Syria and Iraq. Aaron Gardner refused to answer his question because he didn't like Hasan's Arabic name, but then, the group spent half of their time discussing a workplace beheading by a Muslim man.

They started to have an interesting discussion about where workplace violence ends and terrorism and hate crimes begin, but derailed into a "Islam is an evil religion with no redeeming social value" diatribe. Yup, that attitude will sure win moderates to your side in the Middle East conflict.

Interestingly, these conservatives are all for a Congressional vote to authorize military force, although they didn’t go so far as to criticize Boehner for not calling for such a vote.

At around 18:00 in the video, Gardner cites a PPP poll to discuss Latino and female voter loyalty to each party in Colorado. He says that Hispanics still like Obama, although they don’t like Obama’s policies??? He also claims that the new “security issue” for women is ISIS. He expects to see women flocking to the GOP side because of fears about ISIS and Ebola. Yes, women are so freaking gullible, we just flock to where a big strongman (or a posturing chickenhawk) makes us feel marginally safer.

 

Redstate bloggers anti-science ideology was on stunning display, as they discussed the recent People’s Climate March.  Note: these bloggers are relatively young men, not old fogies brought up to believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. That age would put most of the oil and gas men in Colorado out of work – you need millions of years to compost ancient dinosaurs and plants into gas and oil. So I guess “young Earthers” are the true “No Oil and Gas Jobs in Colorado for you!” proponents. But I digress.

Huckster or Do-Gooder? No other choices for 400K + Climate Marchers

At 44:24, Gardner derides the “hypocrisy” of the Climate March, mocking celebrity leaders such as Leonardo de Caprio, and Robert F Kennedy, Jr.  He especially doesn’t like the statement that “It’s better to vote for a democrat than change your light bulb”. (Realistically, voting for Democrats will likely have more of an impact on mitigating climate change, so this is a true statement.)  Per Gardner: It’s a cult activity, it’s not science.” At 51:00, all the bloggers attack popular cable TV scientist Neil Degrasse Tyson. Tyson has vigorously defended the scientific point of view on climate change, and has come under considerable attack from climate change deniers because of it.

Gardner devotes the next five minutes to quoting someone else to explain that climate change is because of “changing winds”, not any human activity.

Then the bloggers get down to serious namecalling. “These people are evil”. “They are mad,  because they worship the creation, not the creator.” “There are only 2 types of people in the left wing factions: the corrupt huckster leader, and the naïve do-gooder.”

At 59:00, Thomas LaDuke has a strange logical moebius strip explaining away climate change. His “logic” seems to be that dinosaurs lived in a warm climate. Therefore ice caps were smaller. Therefore, global warming wasn’t caused by humans.  So we shouldn’t worry. The dinosaurs survived global warming, and severe climate change, didn’t they? Didn’t they?????  

 

Ask your nearest raptured raptor. But if someone sees you talking into  to your gas tank, blame it on Redstate. Stay tuned.

 

Oct 5, 2014

 Redstate Weekly Briefing  This was a much more scattered and silly Redstate briefing. However,  the conservative panelists analyzed today's Yougov poll, and decided that 6 out of 9 of the tossup states lean Democratic. The rest of the time was spent on a discussion of ISIS, ridiculing the contribution of climate change and drought to ISIS recruitment efforts, and discussing Ebola, leading up to Aaron Gardner warbling "My Ebola" to the tune of "My Shorona". Sensitive way to take impending plague deaths of 20,000 people seriously, Gardner.

According to the latest yougov poll, 46 states are solid Republican, 45 states are leaning Democratic, and the following nine are tossups:

  1. Colorado – Udall is up 3 over Gardner. Redstate's Aaron Gardner is still rooting for Cory G.
  2. Alaska , the Republican is up 3 over Begich
  3. Arkansas Cotton (R) is +4,
  4. Georgia Nunn (Dem) is +1
  5. Iowa – Ernst ("Make 'em squeal") R is up 2 over Braley, but polls differ
  6. Louisiana – Landrieu (D)  is up 4 over Cassidy, but there may be a runoff in December after the general election
  7. KS +10 for Orman, the Independent who will caucus with the Dems. Aaron Gardner, sore loser, calls Pat Robertson, the mainstream R candidate, an "old fool" at 15:00, but remarks, "As long as he votes what we tell him to vote, once he's in there…" to general yuk yuks.
  8. New Hampshire Shaheen (D) is +7 over Scott Brown,
  9. NC Hagan (Dem) is  +1

 

 

 

Beauprez Climate Change Denial Gets National Stink-Eye

Bob Beauprez (right).

Bob Beauprez (right).

National progressive blog Think Progress picks up GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's comments about climate change from this week's Denver Post debate–so far overshadowed by the controversy over Beauprez's ill-advised statements on "abortifacient" IUD birth control from the same debate, but remarks we nonetheless expect will further damage Beauprez with moderate voters:

In Colorado, a state with a recent history of severe drought, epic wildfires and historic floods, the Republican candidate for governor is not backing down from his stance denying the role of humans in driving climate change.

In a debate with incumbent Democrat John Hickenlooper Tuesday night, GOP nominee Bob Beauprez was asked whether humans are contributing significantly to climate change and whether we can reverse it. No and No, answered Beauprez.

Five years after he characterized those who are concerned about climate change as religious zealots, Beauprez said “powers bigger than us” are in control of Earth’s fate.

“But are we going to end or alter the path that Earth’s evolution is going to take? I don’t think so,” Beauprez said in the debate hosted by the Denver Post. “I think the Earth’s already figured that out and powers bigger than us have figured that out.”

Which contrasts markedly with the opinion of Gov. John Hickenlooper:

Hickenlooper, for his part, said humans are contributing to climate change that to reverse it will take “a concerted effort, not just on the part of the United States, but worldwide.” Of course, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that human activity is driving recent global warming.

Think Progress also notes Beauprez's 2009 book A Return to Values, in which he says flat-out that climate change is "at best a grossly overhyped issue and at worst a complete hoax foisted on most of the world."

The intensity of opinion on the issue of global climate change, and mankind's contribution to it, does not register quite as high in public opinion surveys as other issues like the economy, foreign policy, and women's reproductive rights. With that said, there is near universal scientific agreement, and solid majority view among the public, the human-caused climate change is occurring and needs to be addressed. Hickenlooper may not be the left's best messenger on climate and energy policy, but as you can see, he's much closer to mainstream consensus on this issue than Beauprez will ever be.

Once again, the contrast between the reasonable middle and the fringe of the issue is very clear in this race.

Is Mike Coffman Oil Rigged?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mike Coffman.

Mike Coffman.

In the September 23 Denver Post Congressional debate, Mike Coffman was asked if he believed humans contributed to climate change. He said No.

The audience laughed.

There’s a reason for that. Even though most Coloradans accept and understand climate change – we all remember the terrible wildfires of 2012, and our ski industry is weather-dependent – Coffman has continued to take money from Big Oil and oppose renewables. Colorado is a top-5 producer for advanced biofuels.

According to an analysis by Fuels America, in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District the renewable fuel sector, including conventional and cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, and advanced biofuels and their suppliers generates $377.1 million of total economic output annually. The renewable fuels sector supports 1,322 jobs and generates $87.8 million in wages annually in CD6.

Statewide, Colorado drivers now spend nearly $3 billion per year on foreign oil—enough money to send every graduating high school senior in Colorado to Harvard for a year.

 If graduating students would prefer to stay close to home, this $3 billion dollars spent on foreign oil is more than enough to send them to the Colorado State University or the University of Colorado for four years. This $3 billion drain on Colorado’s economy—roughly a third of which goes to OPEC nations like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya and Venezuela—could get even higher this fall under a proposal to sharply reduce the amount of American-made renewable fuel in the nation’s gasoline supply.

(more…)

Studies show: Protecting Greater Sage Grouse is good for Colorado Jobs & Economy

One of the West’s iconic birds, the Greater Sage Grouse includes among its historic home and heritage significant lands in Northwest Colorado. Now a new study shows that protecting that habitat could secure a $50,000,000 and growing input into the Colorado economy. 

The findings of the report which came out yesterday (September 30) are backed by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Western Values Project

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT LATEST NEWS WIRES

$1 billion recreation spending fueled by sagebrush, study says

$1 billion in recreation spending helped boost economies in 11 Western states and helped efforts to protect greater sage-grouse habitat last year, according to a study commissioned by Pew Charitable Trusts. The $1 billion in recreation spending came mostly from hunters, campers, fishermen, and others.

…The study is the first of its kind to examine the direct and indirect economic impacts of recreation spending tied to U.S. Bureau of Land Management property with habitat for sagebrush-dependent species, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Hunters, campers, fishermen and others spent more than $623 million directly within 50 miles of Bureau of Land Management property in sagebrush ecosystems across more than 61 million acres, said the report by ECONorthwest, an economic consulting firm founded in Oregon in 1974.

The findings are also supported by another study, backed by the Nature Conservancy, University of Wyoming, the University of Montana, and the US Geological Survey (among others) that was getting reported the day prior: that protecting lands in the Upper Green River Basin in Wyoming for the Greater Sage Grouse is also good for the area’s prized mule deer herds, and that’s good for hunters and local communities alike. 

Conservationists long have speculated that protective measures for sage grouse also benefit the more than 350 other species that inhabit sagebrush ecosystems, but this study is the first to quantify the “umbrella” benefits of those actions for migratory mule deer. Those measures include Wyoming’s sage grouse “core area” policy, which limits development in the state’s key grouse habitat, as well as conservation easements, agreements with private landowners to limit development.

“This study underscores the simple idea that keeping sagebrush habitats intact through Wyoming’s core area policy and conservation easements will have additional benefits for mule deer habitat,” says Holly Copeland, a research scientist with The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming and lead author of the paper.

…Both sage grouse and mule deer, two iconic species of the American West, have seen significant population declines in recent years, as a result of drought, energy and residential development, and other habitat fragmentation. 

The benefit of protecting sage grouse habitat as a way to strengthen the economic activity supported by the public lands is due in part to its value in protecting this range of habitats for numerous species, as the CSM article notes:

Biologists consider the greater sage grouse to be an indicator species whose population numbers signify the health of the entire sage brush ecosystem that supports a wide array of wildlife.

These benefits of protecting our wildlife and wild places ought not only be measured in dollars and cents.  Certainly there is room for the wisdom that embraces  an inherent place for the other species of our world.   But the numbers, if crunched, are clear and compelling as well.  Protecting public lands in Colorado necessary for the survival of wildlife—including the greater sage grouse and big game herds, along with over 300 other species—also secures jobs. 

And that makes it a triple win.   

Conservation Colorado Endorses Gov. Hickenlooper

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

A press release this morning from leading environmental advocate group Conservation Colorado announces the endorsement of incumbent Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for a second term:

Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith, released the following statement endorsing John Hickenlooper for Governor of Colorado today.  

“John Hickenlooper has played an important role in achieving several conservation gains during his time in the Governor’s office. He signed a number of important pieces of legislation into law including increasing Colorado’s renewable energy standard and championing first in the nation air protections to reduce ozone pollution and directly reduce methane pollution from oil and gas facilities. The Governor and his staff also engaged productively in discussions regarding protections of critical open space and wildlands like the Thompson Divide and sage grouse habitat in Northwest Colorado…

We have had disagreements with Governor Hickenlooper over policies of his which have put the interests of the oil and gas industry over the health and environment of Coloradans. Even given those differences, it is the case that under a Governor Hickenlooper administration, Colorado’s air, land, water, and our open spaces have a much greater chance of being protected than if Bob Beauprez were governor. [Pols emphasis] We also believe Governor Hickenlooper will do a significantly better job of promoting our State’s leadership in clean wind and solar energy than Beauprez would.

Conservation Colorado endorses Governor Hickenlooper and we look to the Governor to lead in his second term on the most pressing environmental issues of the day – climate change and safeguarding what we love about Colorado – clean air, water, scenic opens spaces and our unique quality of life.”

Though it's not unexpected, the endorsement of Conservation Colorado is very important to Hickenlooper for shoring up the Democratic base ahead of the November elections. It's no secret that Hickenlooper's relations with environmentalists have not been a strong point. With that said, Hickenlooper can credibly point to agreements like the Air Quality Control Commission's new emissions rules, and the compromise brokered with Rep. Jared Polis to work on legislation aimed at enhancing local control of oil and gas drilling. These and other examples from Hickenlooper's first term show a different side of the proverbial coin: when Hickenlooper's ability to bring opposing parties to the table was key to making any kind of progress.

Recognizing that this may not be quite enough for all of their constituents, Conservation Colorado invites you to consider the alternative:

Coloradans face a clear choice. The Governor’s opponent, Bob Beauprez, has returned to his extreme right wing roots promoting an anti-conservation, anti-clean renewable energy agenda. Beauprez has stated that climate change is a hoax, he has mocked efforts to address citizen concerns around drilling and fracking, and he supported a failed referendum to boost transmountain water projects that would have further damaged Colorado’s rivers and streams. Disturbingly, Beauprez has recently aligned himself with far right wing, anti-government ideologues who are calling for the state to seize control of America’s public lands. This is a costly proposition for the State and could fence off Coloradans from areas they have long enjoyed for camping, fishing, hunting, and hiking.

When the question is between someone who agrees with you 80% of the time or not at all, the answer is pretty simple.

Big Line Updates: Democrats Appear to Have Slight Advantage

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we're updating The Big Line on a weekly basis. Remember: Percentages listed indicate our view of the win/loss outcome only (we are not attempting to guess margin of victory).

You can always access the full Big Line 2014, but below we provide a bit more detail about our thoughts on various races.
 

U.S. SENATE
Mark Udall (62%)
Cory Gardner (38%)
Senator Mark Udall has seen his momentum slow down of late, but that probably has more to do with the natural tightening of this race as October draws near. Public polling in Colorado has become about as reliable as a Ouija Board, though if the final outcome is within the general margin of error of most voter surveys, the data is largely irrelevant anyway. For Congressman Cory Gardner, the one thing that has yet to change remains his biggest problem: He just has too many bad votes on too many important issues. Gardner's campaign also seems to have no idea how to go after Udall effectively; they've been changing tactics like the rest of us change socks.

When all is said and done (or insert cliche of your choice), we always come back to the same question: If you had to gamble everything you had on predicting the winner of this race, would you really choose Gardner?

Neither would we.

 

GOVERNOR
John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

This race continues to be one of the stranger contests we can remember because of its relatively low profile. Republican Bob Beauprez hasn't run a particularly strong, or interesting, campaign thus far — but perhaps it's enough to ask that his campaign doesn't crater as completely as it did in 2006. Governor John Hickenlooper, meanwhile, has been largely invisible for the last few months. No matter how you look at the race, it's hard to envision Beauprez actually ending up in the Governor's Mansion.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL
Cynthia Coffman (51%)
Don Quick (49%)
We've had Quick at the top of the Line for a very long time, so what's different? Nothing, really. In fact, it will be hard (post-election) to explain the outcome of this race no matter what happens in November. If this race were taking place in a bubble, we'd give the edge to Quick. But if Democrats win seats for Senate and Governor, history suggests that voters will split their ballot and pick Republicans for other statewide spots.

 

CD-6
Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)
There may still be a "Coffman" in elected office come January; for the first time in 25 years, we don't think it will be Mike. In their third debate of the campaign, Democrat Andrew Romanoff completely demolished Congressman Mike Coffman. One debate does not a campaign make (or something like that), but the momentum in this race is unmistakably on the side of Romanoff. Coffman's campaign has been insisting that their guy is ahead in internal polling numbers — just don't ask for proof.


Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.

 

VIDEO: Mike Coffman Rejects Climate Change

We discussed this during our Live Blog of last night's CO-6 debate between Rep. Mike Coffman and Democrat Andrew Romanoff, but you really need to see the video yourself as a visibly-uncomfortable Coffman rejects the issue of climate change outright. Coffman's answers came during the "Yes or No answer" segment of the debate:

Here's the transcript of the exchange:

MODERATOR #1 (Denver Post reporter Jon Murray): Mr. Coffman, do you believe humans are contributing significantly to Climate Change?

COFFMAN: Um…No.

MODERATOR #1: Mr. Romanoff?

ROMANOFF: Yes

MODERATOR #2 (Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett): Mr. Romanoff, do you think we can reverse Climate Change?

ROMANOFF: Yes

MODERATOR #2: Mr. Coffman?

COFFMAN: Don't know.

MODERATOR #2: Um, what? Sir?

COFFMAN: [long pause] No.

Coffman's answers to these two questions were not entirely unpredictable, but the Congressman was definitely uneasy — and a bit unsure of himself — in giving his answers. It was a strange way to answer a couple of questions that any pre-debate preparation should have covered repeatedly, so why was Coffman caught so off-guard?

Google Dumps ALEC, Crickets In Colorado

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The Center for Media and Democracy claims another huge win in their years-long campaign to persuade American corporations to stop funding the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)–an organization with deep ties to Colorado Republicans that has somehow managed to evade scrutiny in local press even as nationwide controversy rages about the group's improper influence in state legislative policy.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt said Monday that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is "literally lying" that climate change is not a reality, and that its membership in ALEC "was some sort of mistake."

ALEC stated that it is "unfortunate to learn that the company had ended its membership." Over 80 companies have dropped their membership in ALEC since the Center for Media and Democracy launched ALECexposed.org in 2011…

"I'm curious to know if Google is still supporting ALEC," a caller to the show asked, given the group's promotion of climate change denial and Google's purported commitment to environmentalism.

"Um, we funded them as part of a political [campaign] of something unrelated," Schmidt replied. "I think the consensus within the company was that that was some sort of mistake and so we're trying to not do that in the future…"

"Well, the company has a very strong view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts — what a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we should not be aligned with such people — they're just, they're just literally lying." [Pols emphasis]

ALEC has faced growing scrutiny and criticism in recent years, with a nationwide campaign launched against the group in the aftermath of the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin–whose killer escaped justice, drawing attention to a law pushed by ALEC in Florida called "Stand Your Ground." ALEC's role in a broad variety of Republican legislation, from "right to work" schemes to school vouchers and everything in between, has further stoked controversy as stakeholders in many states discover how many bad ideas that have become law began life as ALEC "model legislation."

Here in Colorado, ALEC enjoys what we can only call protection, or at least deference, from a local media which has been convinced for whatever reason that ALEC "isn't a story." That bias in the local press has forestalled coverage of ALEC's large footprint in the Colorado General Assembly, even as protests against ALEC raged across the nation and major corporations renounced their ties to the group. Despite all of that, Republicans in Colorado serve proudly in key ALEC positions, once in awhile dubious ALEC model bills even attract Democratic support–and nobody says anything.

This is something we really think ought to change.

Republican “Study Committee” Heads For The Border (Again)

UPDATE: Bonus round–check out this photo from 2010's "fact-finding tour" and tell us how many guns you see.

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From left: 2010 House candidate Chris Holbert, then-Rep. Kent Lambert, Sen. Scott Renfroe, then-Rep. Laura Bradford, 2010 House candidate Janak Joshi, then-Rep. Randy Baumgardner.

A press release this week from the arch-conservative Republican Study Committee of Colorado, a social club for the more right-leaning among Republican legislators in this state, announces they are taking another field trip to the Mexican border. In 2006 and 2010, both years like 2014 when immigration was in the headlines, a gaggle of Republican elected officials and candidates undertook similar border "fact-finding tours."

The Republican Study Committee of Colorado (RSCC) has planned a fact-finding trip to Texas to gain firsthand knowledge of the situation with respect to U.S. border security in southern Texas. In just a few weeks (October 5-7), Colorado legislators plan to meet with representatives from the Texas State Legislature, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Military Forces (Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard, Texas State Guard), and perhaps even some local citizen groups during a brief three-day visit.

"With all of the information and misinformation that we see on the topics of immigration and border security, and what they mean to Colorado citizens, we thought that the best approach would be to go gather some real-time information for ourselves," said RSCC Chairman and State Senator Kevin Lundberg, representing Colorado Senate District 15. 

No taxpayer funds will be used for the trip. 

Republican legislators have a history of traveling to the southern border, having made similar visits in 2006 and again in 2010. For legislators, there have been some things that have changed dramatically, and some that haven't changed much at all. The 2010 trip revealed a porous border, some unsettled locals, increasing criminal activity, and frustrated officials. Local ranchers, veterinarians, and others who used to work regularly with their neighbors on the border had seen a dramatic shift in the nature of activity over the years. 

For some legislators, the place to start is to define just what the issues are. "When people talk about immigration', I think it's important to define what we're talking about. Does that mean Naturalization and citizenship? Does it refer to the movement of labor and capital? Does it refer to national security? Does it refer to criminal activity, particularly in drug, slave or sex trafficking? Does it refer to the availability of entitlement programs? Defining and parsing out the issues is an important place to start before we can craft good policy for Colorado," stated Senator Lundberg.

During their 2010 trip to Arizona, RSCC members were "briefed" on that state's new anti-immigrant law SB-1070 by its principal backer, then-Sen. Russell Pearce. Pearce enjoyed brief popularity for his role in passing SB-1070, but within a few years his political career had completely unraveled. Pearce was ousted from his seat in 2011 is Arizona's first-ever successful recall of a sitting legislator. Then just this week, Pearce resigned as vice chairman of Arizona Republican Party after saying this on a local radio show:

"You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I'd do is get [female recipients] Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations,” Pearce said, according to the Phoenix New Times. “Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job."

We assume the RSCC will not be meeting with Mr. Pearce during their trip to the Texas border. With that said, RSCC members who took the trip to see Pearce in 2010 introduced numerous pieces of legislation the following year–both mimicking Arizona's SB-1070 anti-immigrant law, along with other ideas they had heard about on their "fact-finding tour." In the summer of 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down most of SB-1070 as unconstitutional in the landmark case of Arizona vs. United States.

And of course, in the fall of 2012, Democrats retook the Colorado House from the GOP, crushing that party's single-seat, single-term majority in the one chamber they had managed to wrest control of in 2010–and helping lock down what has been the state of affairs in the General Assembly for going on a decade. Immigration wasn't the only factor in the GOP's significant legislative defeats in Colorado last election, but we can safely say that the Colorado GOP's image was not helped by the RSCC's antics in any way. Whatever disappointment Latino voters feel with Democrats for being unable to pass immigration reform, this is the stuff that reminds America's fastest growing bloc of voters who their enemies are in the starkest possible terms.

So, you know, take lots of pictures in Texas.

A Rising Tide in the Sage Brush Sea – Saving the Sage Grouse is Good for Wildlife

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This time of year the color comes out in Colorado, and it’s not only the golden aspen in the high country or rusty scrub-oak on south-facing slopes.  Blaze orange is also in full display in western Colorado as communities put out banners, and the hunters don’t disappoint—for the arrival of the fall hunting season

The Piceance Basin has been called, at various times, Colorado’s ‘mule deer factory’ and a ‘national sacrifice area.’  One is an apt description of biological fact—the Piceance is home to the largest migratory deer herd in North America and the other an unfortunate description of what too many think: that developing the area’s abundant fossil fuel deposits ought to take precedent over everything else.  Including the wildlife

This isn’t meant to be a soapbox: a lot of lands are already leased or controlled by energy companies in Northwest Colorado, more drilling is coming.  But unlike where the shale is getting drilled and fracked on the East Slope, out in Weld County for instance, gas in the Piceance isn’t worth as much for a variety of reasons and companies are mostly sitting on their large reserves—for now.

This gives Colorado’s wildlife a bit of a time out, and we shouldn’t waste it.  Because it’s not just the mule deer, or the elk, it’s all the wildlife that relies on humans not being reckless with their habitat just to suit our purposes.  That includes the Greater Sage Grouse.  And that’s a reason for everyone to come to the table and figure things out quick. 

Which gets back to the hunting season.  Hunters need animals, and animals need habitat.  It’s as simple as that, and that’s why hunters have long been counted among America’s original conservationists.  The Sage Grouse is in the news lately because its habitat needs are not being met and its headed for a listing under the Endangered Species Act.  Lots of different folks would like to avoid that—including many conservation groups if the bird’s habitat can be protected and enhanced so the grouse’s decline can be reversed. 

But the State of Colorado needs to act fast to put real and strong protection in place that protect the bird’s habitat.  That means doing more to protect habitat in the Piceance Basin, which is also where the Greater Sage Grouse occurs in Colorado.  That’s good for all the animals.  And hunters.  

Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) Displaying on a Montana Lek from Ronan Donovan on Vimeo.