Steyer Money Swings Into Action Against Gardner

Tom Steyer.

Tom Steyer.

​FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

NextGen Climate Colorado, the group founded and funded by San Francisco billionaire and climate change activist Tom Steyer, is hitting Colorado’s airwaves for the first time Tuesday with a new TV ad attacking GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner…

The spot taking aim at Gardner, R-Yuma, features a number of people shutting doors and drawing down window-shades; the message to Gardner: “Keep out.”

“He thinks he knows better than the scientists, NASA and the U.S. military on climate change,” a female narrator says over sinister images of a window being closed and a door being pulled shut.

On the screen, text reads: “Denies the science of climate change.”

But the narrator moves right on to highlight a number of other issues: Gardner’s opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for personhood and additional legislation to restrict access to birth control.

As promised, billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer is wading into the Colorado U.S. Senate race to support a conservation minded incumbent Democrat against a GOP challenger who has publicly expressed doubt about humanity's role in global climate change. It's a good hit on Cory Gardner, with polling on the issue showing his climate change skepticism to be a minority view. But having made the decision to target Gardner because of his views on climate change, as you can see, Steyer's group has a broad menu of hits to attack Gardner with.

Does Steyer's investment in Colorado's U.S. Senate race make a hypocrite of Democrats who attack Republican out-of-state funders like the Koch brothers? Maybe a little, although Democrats will argue a, you know, qualitative difference on the issues.

Pragmatic Democrats may be more inclined to shut up about the Kochs until November and let fire fight fire.

Selling Fracking–With Xenophobia?

There's a new "guerilla marketing" campaign underway in Colorado on behalf of the oil and gas industry, produced by a group calling itself Friends of Safe Energy, which has no filing we can find in the Colorado Secretary of State's website either as a political committee or a business. The campaign is circulating well-produced viral videos like the one you see above–so well produced, in fact, it's a dead giveaway that this is not a "grassroots" effort of any kind. In addition to the videos, the campaign is putting up wheatpaste posters like this cluster we found on East Colfax in Denver today:

putinwheatpaste

It's easy to see what they're getting at, but this campaign openly deceives on crucial details–like the fact that the United States is already a net exporter of petroleum products, or that more of our imported oil comes from Canada, Venezuela and non-OPEC nations today than either the Middle East or Russia.

Also, we're pretty sure that money spent on imported petroleum does not ipso facto go to fund terrorists getting ready to execute a fair-skinned hostage.

This campaign's ability to nail just about every xenophobic Arab stereotype in only one minute of video shows you've got an ad agency that really managed to think outside the proverbial box. Perhaps only for the purpose of offending people, but in the right focus group, that's more than enough. Perhaps at some point we'll find out who paid for this campaign, and whether they like having their names publicly linked with it.

In the meantime, just sit back and enjoy the jingoism we guess.

Randy Baumgardner: Native Americans Liked their Water to be Burning

FireWater

Hooray!

The Western Conservative Summit in Colorado is an annual event hosted by Colorado Christian University in which conservative Republicans of varying degrees of partisan fame descend on Denver to say weird things about important issues. The Summit never fails in producing gems of ridiculousness, and the conversations and events that take place in Denver are so multi-layered that they often provide stories for the media and blogs long after the event has ended.

It is from July's Western Conservative Summit that we bring you, via Raw Story, this absurd discussion between State Sen. Randy "The Mustache" Baumgarder (who was an honest-to-goodness candidate for U.S. Senate for a time) and Republican activist (and likely the newest Representative from HD-15), Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt. Baumgardner was a guest on Dr. Chaps' "Pray in Jesus' Name" radio show, and this happened:

“I’ve been doing a lot of the fracking seminars,” said Baumgardner, “and if people haven’t been, then they really don’t understand it.”

“They talk about methane in the water and this, that, and the other,” Baumgardner went on, “but if you go back in history and look at how the Indians traveled, they traveled to the ‘burning waters.’ And that was methane in the waters and that was for warmth in the wintertime.” [Pols emphasis]

“So a lot of people,” he said, “if they just trace back the history, they’ll know how a lot of this is propaganda.”

Randy Baumgardner.

Randy Baumgardner and Mustache

Um, what?

We're not sure what this particular line of "thinking" has to do with fracking, but it is one of the dumbest things we've heard on the topic in quite some time. Sure, maybe the "Indians traveled…to the 'burning waters,'" but what the hell does that have to do with fracking? The fracking argument is primarily about the safety of DRILLING for oil and gas on lands that are surrounded by homes and schools, which has nothing to do with Native Americans and burning lakes and whatever else The Mustache is talking about.

What is most disturbing here is that we have an elected State Senator (and former State House member) who is wandering around Colorado talking about 'burning waters' and 'Indians.'

Why is Baumgardner doing "fracking seminars" when he obviously has no idea what he's talking about?

Or did we just answer our own question?

Tom Steyer’s Mission To Stamp Out Climate Denialism

steyer

A story from FOX 31's Eli Stokols looks in detail at billionaire Tom Steyer, who was in Aspen yesterday for the American Renewable Energy Day summit conference–talking about his ambitious plans to aggressively take on politicians in 2014 and beyond who deny the general scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to global climate change:

Steyer’s plan mirrors that of mega-donors on the right — leveraging his personal fortune on behalf of candidates who support his agenda: supporting Democrats who will push for action to combat climate change and going after Republican incumbents who deny climate science…

Steyer, who has come under fire of late amidst disclosures that much of the fortune he amassed at Farallon Capital Management came in part from investing in companies that operate coal mines, is supporting Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in his reelection bid against Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, who has denied that climate change is impacted by human activity.

“We tried to go into states where there is a big difference between the candidates,” said Steyer, who explained that the 2014 strategy is more about turning out pro-environment voters than persuading swing voters to care more about the issue of climate change.

“A lot of people who support pro-environment candidates like Mark Udall are some of the likeliest drop-off voters. [Pols emphasis] So we are focused not so much on TV ads but on the things that will be old-fashioned, 18th- century politics, trying to get local people to talk to local voters and citizens and why it’s important enough for them to get off the couch and go down to the polling place in the second Tuesday in November,” Steyer said.

As Stokols reports, Tom Steyer has announced his intention to spend $50 million this year to elect pro-environment candidates who acknowledge the role of industry and carbon energy sources in global climate change. Objectively speaking, compared to the amount of money conservative mega-donors like the Koch brothers have invested in American politics over the years, this isn't that much. Liberals also have many other well-established channels for aggregating and strategically spending money like the national Democracy Alliance. What makes Steyer's push different is the electoral focus on the environment. Not to change minds on the issue, but to motivate voters already responsive to the issue to get to the polls.

What Steyer wants is simple: for the voters who turn out in presidential election years to show up this November. Obviously, all Democrats are looking for the key to doing just that: it could help put a stop to the damaging recent cycle of political representation in the United States swinging drastically from left to right between presidential election years and midterm election years. In the polling done by backers of this year's abortive local control ballot initiatives showing enduring public support for locally regulating oil and gas drilling, you can see the electorate Steyer wants to reach clearly. It's a major reason why we believe those measures could not only have passed, but could have helped Democrats at the polls even if Democratic politicians steered clear.

Bottom line: Colorado environmental liberals who are upset by the resolution to the local control debate this year are about to see the issue clarified in the form of a straight-up climate change denier, GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner. The intra-Democratic debate over fracking in our energy producing state will take an inevitable back seat to a much more fundamental question: does Colorado want to be represented in the U.S. Senate by a man who simply rejects out of hand the overwhelming scientific consensus that humans are contributing to climate change?

That message, with a few million dollars behind it, could honestly be a game-changer.

Say it ain’t so, Andrew, say it ain’t so!

Oh boy, the thoroughly discredited and Colorado-Tried-and-Failed strategy whereby a Colorado Dem tries to run and govern like a Republican will never die:

So which is it? Are Dems tacking left or veering right? The answer isn’t clear yet. But Isenstadt offers some worrisome anecdotes. He points to several Democratic candidates who are recycling Republican rhetoric, even in districts that went for Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

Isenstadt highlights, for example, a campaign video and accompanying material from Colorado Democrat Andrew Romanoff. Romanoff’s video is indistinguishable from a Republican’s, complete with a Paul Ryan-style graph of “soaring” federal debt and admonitions that “you don’t buy things you can’t pay for.”

Andrew Romanoff was one of the few candidates I've given money to the last few years. D's just can't seem to quit this congenital need to pretend they are Republican, or to pretend that some kind of High-Minded Bipartisanship will be met with the same by our Tea Party counterparts. 

RJ Eskow is really an excellent writer, and here's a bit more of his analysis regarding our good friend Andrew:

The game plan for candidates like Romanoff appears to be: Adopt your competition’s failed economic agenda, make yourself your opponent’s pallid shadow, and base your campaign on issues, positions and priorities that have little or no support among voters.

That’s not just a bad strategy. It will also be very difficult to execute. As will inevitably happen in many Democratic races, the National Republican Congressional Committee pointed to Romanoff’s past support for the stimulus and said, “It’s dishonest for Andrew Romanoff to criticize the mountain of government debt he helped create.”

The “government debt” canard is a silly critique, one that Romanoff could easily refute – if he hadn’t already abandoned his ideological post by running away from much-needed government investment. The stimulus didn’t create debt. It helped reduce long-term debt by spurring modest growth and offsetting the job losses caused by the financial crisis. What’s more, its objectives were consistent with the electorate’s priorities. Its only problem, as any good economist will tell you, is that it wasn’t large enough.

Candidates like Andrew Romanoff could choose to campaign on jobs and growth. That would be a winning approach, even in red districts, with voters who are fearful of the economic future. But when they choose to echo Republican messaging instead, they leave themselves defenseless against attacks like the one Romanoff is facing.

It won't work. He might get elected, as Salazar and Markey did, but if he carries it through a bland and unproductive first term, he'll end up exactly as they did.

And Harry Truman's aphorism will remain as true today as the day he said it:

Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time.

- Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States and Homespun Political Genius

Where Divesting from Fossil Fuels was born

There is a lot of news about Colorado lately, but I bet this story is still under the Radar.
I interviewed John Powers who is the founder and visionary for the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and found out that the idea of Divestment from University Portfolios from Fossil Fuels was birthed at a place made to find Energy solutions, the Alliance Center. (a movement needed internationally for Low Lying Islanders)

On the Divestment movement at 3:28 in the video

“There’s a movement now Divest – Invest, I want to go on record that this idea was conceived on the 3rd floor of this building. Here at the Alliance Center, a group called “As You Sow” and other folks happened to be meeting here… they came up with the idea that you have to divest. Take your investments out of fossil fuels and then you have to invest them into something alternative.”


Read on for John Powers’ views on the problem with Natural Gas as a ‘bridge fuel’, the future of Renewable energy, warning about the future of our energy portfolio, and changing the model on which businesses operate from the ground up.

Colorado recently has been in the midst of a fight between pro-fracking and anti-fracking ballot measures that were pulled as ‘compromise’ which left environmentalists upset.

From John Powers:

“When you are talking about a ‘bridge fuel’ (Natural Gas), a bridge starts at some place and ends some place. We are putting all this infrastructure for Natural Gas…
That infrastructure is money we should be putting into demand side and most benign supply side energy (Renewable Energy)
And now Utility scale Solar is the cheapest form out there.
Colorado and the U.S. has the chance to provide the leadership to take these steps…Colorado has the the potential to be a leader internationally.”

On that subject, John knows what he is talking about. He built a coalition to pass the ground breaking Amendment 37 in 2004, which required our State utility, Xcel to make their energy portfolio include renewable energy.

On the Climate forecast of Storms, Droughts, and Floods:

(Question) What things have we seen in real time, the example I want to use is the (Colorado) Flood of September 2013…. When is that point when 50 plus 1 gets that something has changed?

“We can either anticipate what’s coming at us, which is irrefutable, or we can wait for these crises to mount, (if that’s the case) there’s going to be a lot of heartache, sorrow, and economic pain.
People in the short term say that economically, we cant afford to these controls…
I’m saying economically long term if you don’t do them now, you’re TOAST

And on the Grand Re-opening of an even more Energy Efficient Alliance Center on August 14th:

The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado was founded to bring points of view together to find long term solutions. When you are part of creating solutions, you are more likely to implement those solutions. (The Building Remodel) We tend to think in terms of costs in a building per square foot. Instead of per square foot, the deeper more sophisticated question is how much is this building going to cost per worker? This is a model we are looking for people to implement in existing buildings, and IT’S PROFITABLE!

Thanks to John Powers for being the visionary for the Alliance Center and to all the people who are part of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado for helping navigate the way in which we plan our Renewable energy future.
And come to the Grand Reopening of the Alliance Center August 14th!

Frackapalooza 2014: Losers

Fracking operation in Greeley.

Fracking operation in Greeley.

News broke on Monday that Gov. John Hickenlooper had reached a deal to avert dueling ballot measures related to fracking, and since we are a political blog and all, we had to swoop in and rank stuff.

Tuesday, we gave you our "Winners" from what we are calling Frackapalooza 2014, which culminated in the removal of four initiatives from the ballot (two backed by Polis, and two backed by the oil and gas industry) in exchange for the formation of a humongous "blue ribbon commission" that will make recommendations to the legislature.

Is this a good deal for Coloradans? A bad deal? As always here at Colorado Pols, we limit our analysis to politics while leaving the policy debate to others. Which leads us to…

Frackapalooza 2014: Winners, Losers, and Lessons

In the interest of both time and space (relative though they may be), we're going to break this up into three separate posts. After the jump, check out our "Losers" from Frackapalooza 2014 (you can find the "Winners" here):

(more…)

Winners, Losers, and Lessons from Frackapalooza Deal

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

​News broke late yesterday that Gov. John Hickenlooper had reached a deal to avert dueling ballot measures related to fracking — and not a moment too soon. Yesterday was the final day to submit signatures to the Secretary of State's office for certification to make the November ballot. The deal has apparently met approval with Rep. Jared Polis, oil and gas executives, environmentalists, and even some Japanese tourists on 16th Street Mall (okay, we made that part up), and will culminate in the removal of four initiatives from the ballot (two backed by Polis, and two backed by the oil and gas industry) in exchange for the formation of a humongous "blue ribbon commission" that will make recommendations to the legislature. So, instead of ballot measures, the State will appoint 18 people to continue arguing about fracking long after Election Day.

Is this a good deal for Coloradans? A bad deal? That depends on who you ask, of course, and here at Colorado Pols, we sort of avoid the question because we focus our analysis on the pure politics of the deal. As always here at Colorado Pols, we limit our analysis to politics while leaving the policy debate to others. Which leads us to…

Frackapalooza 2014: Winners, Losers, and Lessons

In the interest of both time and space (relative though they may be), we're going to break this up into three separate posts. So up first, after the jump, are the big Winners from Frackapalooza:

(more…)

BREAKING: Hickenlooper/Polis Deal Averts Fracking Ballot Measures

UPDATE #4: Sen. Mark Udall weighs in with congratulations:

Colorado has served as a model for the nation on finding the right balance between protecting our clean air and water, safely developing our abundant energy resources, and safeguarding our communities and our public health. I have been proud to champion efforts to strike that balance by bringing together Democrats, Republicans, the oil and gas industry, conservationists, and citizen groups.

From the beginning, I have pressed everyone involved to find a balanced way forward and to work toward a collaborative solution. I am proud this engagement yielded results, and I applaud Governor Hickenlooper and Congressman Polis for reaching this compromise. 

—–

UPDATE #3: Conservation Colorado's statement:

Conservation Colorado believes local governments have a historical right and responsibility to protect the public health and environment of their communities from land use impacts of industrial activities like drilling and fracking. We applaud Congressman Polis’ strong advocacy for his constituents and on behalf of many other Coloradans concerned over the impacts of oil and gas drilling on Colorado communities.

We congratulate Congressman Polis and Governor Hickenlooper for working diligently to bring this complicated issue to a good public policy result. No Coloradan should have to wake up and see a drilling rig over their back fence and worry that their families health or quality of life will be adversely impacted.

—–

UPDATE #2: Gov. John Hickenlooper's statement announcing the new task force to recommend legislation for 2015:

“Colorado is fortunate to have an abundance of energy resources, and we have an obligation to develop them in a way that is safe for our residents, supports jobs and the economy, respects private property rights and protects our environment,” Hickenlooper said.
 
“The work of this task force will provide an alternative to ballot initiatives that, if successful, would have regulated the oil and gas industry through the rigidity of Constitutional amendments and posed a significant threat to Colorado’s economy. This approach will put the matter in the hands of a balanced group of thoughtful community leaders, business representatives and citizens who can advise the legislature and the executive branch on the best path forward.”

…Hickenlooper expressed confidence in Colorado’s existing set of regulations as developed and enforced by the COGCC and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Those agencies have undertaken four major rulemakings addressing oil and gas development since 2011. That included a year-long public process to develop a new setback standard, which took effect last year.

“Recognizing the value of energy and our environment, and managing that balance, can be difficult but it’s something we’ve always been able to do in Colorado. Collectively, we have one of the strongest regulatory approaches in the country, and we will continue to build on that record to protect our world-class environment while providing the flexibility necessary to develop our important energy resources,” Hickenlooper said.

—–

Rep. Jared Polis speaks at a press conference with Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Rep. Jared Polis speaks at a press conference with Gov. John Hickenlooper.

UPDATE: Full statement from Rep. Jared Polis after the jump. Excerpt:

In 2011 I visited with concerned parents in Erie who were distressed over plans to locate several fracking rigs next to Red Hawk Elementary School. They asked for my help, and I immediately called upon the operators to reconsider the location of those wells. For weeks I sent letters, I had conference calls with oil and gas executives and I plead with them to not move forward with these ill advised plans to place fracking rigs dangerously close to children's elementary school. In the end my pleas and the pleas of these concerned parents for reasonable setbacks from their kids elementary school fell on deaf ears. I told those parents and my constituents that I would not give up the fight, that I would continue pushing for responsible regulations that protect them and I have devoted a considerable amount of my time doing just that ever since.

I believe today's announcement is a victory for the people of Colorado and the movement to enact sensible fracking regulations. I know for many today's announcement will not go far enough, but I believe it's just the beginning of next chapter.

—–

lion-lamb

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports, a press conference at the Colorado Capitol is getting underway now:

Environmentalists and the governor's office struck a last-minute deal to withdraw all proposed ballot initiatives to restrict fracking for the November election, defusing a political time bomb that had driven a wedge between liberal and pro-business Democrats…

The deal does include some immediate concessions to environmentalists to avoid the Polis-backed initiatives.

The governor's office has agreed to withdraw the state from a lawsuit against Longmont over the city's voter-enacted ban on fracking.

In addition, the governor has committed to more rigorously enforce a 1000-foot setback, the distance that must separate oil and gas drilling from existing buildings.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Polis has also requested that the industry withdraw two of its own initiatives: Initiative 121, which stipulates that communities that limit oil and gas activity would be prohibited from receiving state severance tax revenues from oil and gas development; and Initiative 137, which would require the fiscal impact of each initiative be estimated earlier in the process and included in the Colorado Blue Book.

Backers of those initiatives submitted signatures ahead of Monday’s deadline but may be willing to drop them before the ballot is finalized in September.

At first blush, it does appear Rep. Jared Polis has extracted significant concessions from Gov. John Hickenlooper as part of this agreement–withdrawing the state from the suit over Longmont's fracking moratorium, and better enforcement of setbacks between drilling and other developments like homes and schools. Bigger setbacks for drilling was one of the two ballot measures Polis was working on. Polling from supporters of Polis' ballot measures showed they had a solid and enduring chance–even after opponents' arguments against–of passing this November. Today's agreement allows Polis and conservationists to claim victory without that long and costly ballot fight, which some Democrats worried could be divisive for the general election.

Instead, Polis comes out a winner with tangible deliverables resulting from his effort–and Hickenlooper shows his remarkable knack for making the lion lay down with the lamb yet again. We'll update after today's press conference with more coverage and details.

(more…)

Politifact Skewers Gardner Over Bogus Keystone XL Claims

mostlyfalse

We've talked a few times about the well-funded efforts by the oil and gas industry to make an electoral issue in Colorado out of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline–a shortcut from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada to Oklahoma and petroleum export terminals along the Gulf Coast. The industry and allied Republican politicos have expended tremendous time and effort into firing up the public to demand construction of this pipeline begin immediately–before environmental reviews are complete. That's not the way they characterize the issue, of course, but that's the bottom line.

Here in Colorado, despite the industry's insistence in paid advertising that the Keystone XL pipeline represents an essential battle for American freedom, there's never been much to get agitated about either way. The Keystone XL pipeline won't pass through our state, and Colorado already has pipelines connecting Commerce City to the oil sands region in Canada. Studies indicate that, far from an economic benefit to our state, completion of the Keystone XL will increase gas prices in the central United States including Colorado, since we'll be competing with export customers for Canadian crude oil.

We've discussed all of this in previous posts, but the fallacious arguments for Keystone XL from Colorado Republican politicos go on unabated. Yesterday, Pulitzer Prize-winning fact checker Politifact ripped GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner for claiming again, as he has many times, that Keystone XL would create "thousands of jobs in Colorado."

In the Colorado Senate race, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall recently voted against Congress fast-tracking the pipeline, but said the administration’s review process should continue. His likely Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, has called for swift approval, insisting it would be an economic boon to the state…

"The Keystone Pipeline would create good-paying jobs," Gardner said. "Not only where the pipeline is being built, good-paying construction jobs, but manufacturing and service opportunities in Colorado along with the Keystone Pipeline. We would create thousands of jobs in Colorado, if the Keystone Pipeline were to be built."

Cory Gardner.

Cory Gardner.

​As Politifact explains, that isn't anywhere near accurate. Early estimates of "job creation" from Keystone XL reached into the totally ridiculous hundreds of thousands, figures which Politifact reports not even industry proponents use anymore. According to the State Department's latest analysis, if the construction of Keystone XL lasts two years, roughly 8,000 temporary construction jobs would be created. Adding reasonable multipliers for indirectly created jobs from that economic activity results in something like 40,000 "job years," or individuals employed for a one-year period as a direct or indirect result of the project–with some 30,000 of those outside states where the pipeline will be located.

The bottom line is, "multipliers" to account for "indirect job creation" are a major fudge point for political prevaricators. But for argument's sake, let's say they're right. How many jobs, direct or indirect, would Keystone XL create in Colorado?

Ian Goodman, who co-authored a Cornell University study of the pipeline, said it’s unlikely that Colorado’s chunk of those 30,000 jobs would reach the thousands…In a rosy scenario, Goodman estimated that at most 1,400 additional jobs could be created in Colorado, but more likely it will be less, perhaps closer to 500. [Pols emphasis]

As we’ve noted in the past, too, almost all of these jobs are not permanent, as is often the case with construction projects. The State Department found the pipeline would create 35 permanent jobs and 15 temporary jobs once it went into operation.

So yes, there would be some number of temporary jobs created in Colorado by the construction of Keystone XL. Colorado has a robust petroleum services sector, with plenty of qualified workers who could supply the construction effort. But it's nothing earth-shattering for our state's already booming oil industry, and to say that "thousands of jobs in Colorado" are riding on the Keystone XL is simply not true. And if you really want to get into the weeds about it, are 500 temp jobs worth as much to Colorado's economy as the higher gas prices forecast by Keystone XL's completion will hurt?

There are plenty of arguments worth having in Colorado this election season. Keystone XL isn't one of them, but it may prove valuable for snaring Gardner in another demonstrably false statement.

The Importance of the Colorado Water Plan

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Most politicians from the Western Slope run on a platform of “not one more drop.” That’s because 80% of Colorado’s water falls on the western slope, yet 87% of the population lives on the other side of the Continental Divide. To solve the problem and get more water to the Front Range of Colorado, in the 1930’s Colorado began building tunnels and water storage facilities that divert water from the Colorado River Basin to the Front Range. Over time Western Slope water users became concerned that too much water was being diverted, hence the mantra about not one more drop.

Today there are 30 completed water diversion projects in the State, most of which take water from the Colorado River Basin and deliver it to the other side of the mountains, although a few just move it from one river basin to another without the inter-mountain transfer. The 24 diversions that do change the flow of water from west to east currently deliver approximately 500,000 acre feet of water to farmers and municipalities on the Front Range annually.

In 2005, Colorado passed House Bill 1177, which created River Basin Round Tables. This was a bi-partisan attempt to get water policy out of the world of partisan politics. The bill was supported by two names you will recognize from here:  Josh Penry and Bernie Beuscher. Abel Tapia, running to unseat Scott Tipton, was in the Colorado legislature at the time and was also a sponsor of this bill. The short name of the bill was “Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act.”

(more…)

Large Honey Bee die-off in Southern Colorado

 “It’s better to be a dog in a peaceful time than be a man in a chaotic period.”Chinese proverb

Wonder what the Chinese had to say about bees?

Thousands of Bees Die Suddenly in Southern Colorado

Beekeepers in the region are seeing a dramatic drop-off in the number of bees in their hives, just in the past few days.

Kimberly Randall and Jonathan Geurin are beekeepers in Colorado Springs. They told News 5 this season started out well for them, but recently, they could tell something wasn't right. It turns out more than 60 percent of their hive died in just three days. "By the time we got to the bottom of the hive, we found a pile of dead bees that was two to three inches thick," said Randall.

Geurin and Randall have raised a combined six hives of honeybees in both Colorado Springs and Canon City. With 50,000 to 70,000 bees per hive, and half of their hives affected, they estimate well over 100,000 bees have died.

"That hive is completely gone," Geurin said. "When I opened it up a few days ago, there was no queen in it. There was probably only a dozen bees."

But what could be killing hundreds of thousands of bees across Southern Colorado? "There's a lot of theories," Randall said. "We're going to be sending our bees off to have testing done through the state, and notify them in case there's something going on." Randall and Geurin think pesticides and other chemicals used to treat lawns and weeds could be making their way into the water table

"Read what you're putting into your yard," Randall said. "Read what you're putting into your garden, because it all circles back."

Fruits and vegetables thrive on pollination from honeybees, making them vital to sustain our food sources.

The Zombie Apocalypse may be coming……..just not in the form we see on TV.

Tell Us How You Really Feel, Big Oil

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reported Friday, and we didn't want it to escape mention:

A new campaign ad that features the "Flat Earth Discussion Group," cheese by-products and a man with a sock puppet takes a humorous look at Colorado's fracking battle, but some voters aren't laughing.

The Environmental Policy Alliance launched the 60-second spot this month as a way to counter what it says are are false claims from "radical activists" about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an issue that has dominated Colorado's political landscape for almost two years.

But in hyper-educated Colorado — which ranks second in the nation per capita for the number of people with college degrees — will the ad backfire? [Pols emphasis]

Because the oil and gas industry has–pardon the pun–money to burn on promoting its agenda, we expect them to shovel every kind of media at Colorado voters for as long as their risk/benefit equations make it gainful. This ad is a lesson in the need to better prescreen the concepts their media department/consultants/meddling executive directors hatch in a moment of heady, undisciplined groupthink. You've been to those meetings.

Meetings where they hatch really bad ideas.

You see, outside the world of the oil and gas industry's vast payroll and legions of politicos and PR firms in their orbit, a large percentage of perfectly reasonable, well educated people have legitimate concerns about drilling–especially now that "fracking" has brought drilling to places it previously was not, residential areas unaccustomed to industrial activity. These are not people who want to ban the practice of fracking outright; but they are persuadable that the industry's invasive status quo, sometimes in neighborhoods like their own, is not satisfactory.

And this ad more or less insults them all.

At the end of the day, the purpose of paid advertising is not to make the people who already agree with you chuckle, it's to persuade persuadables who have not yet decided. This might be a good video to play at oil and gas industry trade conferences to lighten the mood or whatever, but for the purpose of reaching the middle-road segment of Colorado voters who could decide the fate of local control ballot initiatives this November, it's misguided enough to significantly backfire on its creators.

Colorado River Basin drying out faster than previously thought

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What will our Fracker in Chief say about this?

Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.

In the past nine years, the basin — which covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California — has lost about 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, nearly double the volume of the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. That figure surprised the study’s authors, who used data from a NASA weather satellite to investigate groundwater supplies.

About two-thirds of the water lost over the past nine years came from underground water supplies, rather than surface water.

“We were shocked to see how much water was actually depleted underground,” Stephanie Castle, a water specialist at the University of California at Irvine and lead author of the report, said in an interview.

This water is critical for all aspects of life in the geological area.(No, I will not change my screen name to Captain Obvious.) Fracking, which our governor, a trained geologist, says is harmless, uses enormous amounts of water which in turn affects individuals' water wells. Discarded fracking fluids are now also beginning to affect water tables and aquifers around the nation.

Oh, and did I mention increased earthquake activity in fracking areas?

Here's a map of the Colorado River Basin by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that is in the Post article:

The ease with which our Governor gives his support to the highly disruptive extraction of fossil fuels from our environment never ceases to amaze me. There are many negative aspects of the technology, yet he has remained firm in his support of Big Energy. Maybe this latest piece of evidence will finally catch his attention to the long-term harm fracking will do to Colorado's environment. 

When Gardner Praised Udall…

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman takes us on a trip down memory lane–before U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's career depended on disparaging everything that Sen. Mark Udall and other Democrats have ever said or done:

The recent battle over fracking in Colorado quickly entered Colorado's Senate race and the latest tiff involves Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) caught on tape a couple years ago praising his opponent on oil and gas policy.

"I believe, as Governor Hickenlooper believes, as Senator Udall has said, that the decisions on fracking ought to be made at the local level," Gardner says in the video, provided to 9NEWS by the Udall campaign. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner was responding to a question from a voter at a 2012 town hall event in Berthoud, Colorado…

Now before anybody gets too excited:

In the video, Gardner goes on to clarify that he meant states should control fracking as opposed to the federal government, adding, "I believe that [fracking policy] ought to be deferred to the state, just as Governor Hickenlooper does."

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

So no, Gardner was not making a statement that could be interpreted as endorsing the local control ballot initiatives underway this year. That said, this little vignette courtesy 9NEWS is a useful reminder that Republicans in Colorado don't really have much of a case against Colorado Democrats on pro-energy policy. After Sen. Udall announced his opposition to the local control ballot measures, Republicans continued to attack him with the same intensity. But the fact is, Udall's longstanding support for a balance between energy development and conservation is much closer to the mainstream in Colorado than "drill baby drill"–and that's why the polls consistently show Udall is better trusted on energy policy and the environment than his opponent.

There was a time, as you can see, when the trust the public places in Udall (and yes, even Gov. John Hickenlooper) on energy and the environment worked to Gardner's advantage as he tried to demonstrate how his views were mainstream views. There is a possibility that this November, the voters of this state will push the frame of the debate over drilling in Colorado well to the left of any of these politicians' comfort zones.

Either way, it's better to define the center than attack it.