UN Liberals, Unicorn Bans, and Better Broadband—The Battle for Senate District 5

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Gail Schwartz, who has rather tirelessly worked on behalf of Senate District 5 is term-limited, and the battle to replace her is considered one of the top races this cycle for control of the Colorado Senate.  The contest is between Kerry Donavan, town councilor for Vail, and member of a long time Eagle County business and ranching family; and, Don Suppes the self-proclaimed “most conservative mayor” from Orchard City, an incorporated water district on the southern flanks of Grand Mesa, somewhere roughly between Delta and Cedaredge

The Club 20 debates yesterday not only included the marque races for Governor and U.S. Senator, and the second string races for CD 3 (Tipton, R-Worthless and Tapia, D-Pueblo, again) and CD 2 (featuring George Leing talking to himself), but a number of down ticket races as well including one shaping up to be a major battle in the fight to keep or take control of the state senate. 

Senate District 5–which includes Eagle, Lake, Gunnison, Chafee, Pitkin, and Delta counties–bridges the Divide: at the spine of the continent, as well as in the politics in western Colorado. 

Far from the ‘Republican stronghold’ some imagine it to be—western Colorado actually has classically divided politics: a number of areas are blue and trending bluer, even as the Republican strangleholds on places like Mesa and Moffat County increase.

And there is a strong sentiment toward being non-affiliated: which spans the range from conservative to liberal, and not always in familiar pairings.  A lot of folks like guns, and pot.  Your neighbors might be a changing band of hippies or survivalists bunkering down for the post-apocalypse.  Sometimes its the same group of people.  Its not a new thing and we like it that way.  We can be a little crusty, but most of us are friendly, and we help each other out.  

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Pigeon Pie and Fracking Sage Grouse: On Caring for Our Furred, Finned, and Feathered Neighbors

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A recent story on National Public Radio about the last passenger pigeon’s death in the Cincinnati Zoo – 100 years ago on September 1—raises questions about the role and responsibility of humans in caring for the well-being of other species.

The passenger pigeon was once the most plentiful bird in North America, flocks of which would blacken the sun behind mile after mile of undulating clouds—driven to rapid extinction by human avarice, poor practice, and the absence of professional wildlife management that follows species, and science, even across state lines. 

Those human failures are what we remember the passenger pigeon for, as an article about its recent, sad anniversary in the NY Times noted: 

[We] remember the passenger pigeon because of the largest-scale human-caused extinction in history.  Possibly the most abundant bird ever to have existed, this gregarious pigeon once migrated in giant flocks that sometimes exceeded three billion, darkening the skies over eastern North America for days at a time. No wild bird in the world comes close to those numbers today. Yet 100 years ago this week, the very last pigeon of her kind died in her cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. Her name was Martha, and her passing merits our close attention today.

Martha’s passing merits our attention and reflection because we know better now, or at least we should.  Now we have professional wildlife management. And we have federal laws that can compel action if state management to protect vulnerable species is not sufficient to get the job done.

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War on….Thread

(We love newspaper comments – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

From the Sentinel comments…Women are to blame for all that sexy sex stuff, we men cannot help ourselves…
 
By Jerry Sanders - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Say Henry. “Reproductive freedom” is not health care. Laws be damned. She makes that choice of “freedom” whenever she takes her clothes off.

Its FDR's fault that some cop shot an unarmed black man 6 times from a distance after he was surrendering.

Somehow it all goes back to Obama (not a 'real American') and his War on Coal.  Discuss.

 

Gardner Campaign – Laughingly Incompent or Terrible Liars?


 

 

From the Gardner Campaign Communication Director

 
 
 
Protip: Google it first before you make yourself look like a complete idiot.  (Old saw; Measure twice, cut once.) 
 
So, does the Gardner campaign have a Communication Director that just retweets whatever slur against our Senator he hears, and cannot even do a half second Google search (since terms 'only' would certainly beg for such), or is he so unconcerned with truth that he really doesn't care?  Incompetent or liar? (incompetent liar?).
 

Fracked Fairy-Tales: Goldilocks and the Texas Oilmen

WEEKEND UPDATE

Reports surfaced Friday that a tentative deal had been struck in efforts to strike a 'compromise, successfully navigate a Special Session, and come out on the other side having tamped down angst over flaming water wells and gas wells spewing frack water. The problem appears to be whom the deal is among, which looks to be a narrow set of mysteriously-selected representatives of something.  But as the Coloradoan reports, it is not clear who exactly is really on board.  

Stan Dempsey, the president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, was less optimistic. His group sent a letter to the governor’s office last month outlining various concerns, saying that more local control would create a “Byzantine set of oil and gas rules and regulations” across Colorado. That would drive up costs for the industry and make it more difficult to operate in the state, the letter said.

“I don’t believe that most of or any of the concerns we communicated in that letter were addressed,” Dempsey said Friday.

_____________________

Club Twitty has previously blogged on Calgary-based Encana’s disclosure to its shareholders about the restless natives in the Colorado energy colony:

CALGARY — Canadian energy giant Encana Corp. says its operations in Colorado could be hampered by a state ballot initiative that, if successful, would bring oil and gas drilling under local government control.  

But it is not just our foreign neighbors in the North that are bothered by the recent rumblings of this troubling trend called 'local control.'  Oil magnates back in HQ are also looking askance at Coloradans with their restless, meddling hands on the state Constitution, asserting the right to decide which branches of their state and local government entities ought to regulate which aspects of oil and gas development as if those governments were their own.    

“Houston, we have a problem.”

 

How dare they be so presumptuous, up there living atop our current or future minerals!   They need to learn–We know what (suits us) best.

 Houston companies join fracking fray in Colorado

…it’s enough to catch the attention of the energy industry.

“Industry is now taking this seriously, and they’re using all their resources to make sure Coloradans are properly educated…"

Ah yes, Coloradans being 'properly educated' by Texans no less, wielding wads of oil and gas money, via such ironically named corporate shops as Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development.  CRED.org continues to push the Big Lie that local control is a 'statewide fracking ban' in the waiting, yet still describes itself as having

…a “core mission” to “deliver solid facts directly to the people who need it most: you. As industry leaders, Anadarko and Noble are among the most technically qualified to explain the practice of hydraulic fracturing to Coloradans.”

Critics of the industry’s efforts estimate that CRED has already spent between $2.4 and $4 million on profracking advertising so far this year and the biggest spending months won’t hit until fall.

Not done with this questionable astroturf creation purporting to speak bullshit on behalf of 'Coloradans,' the Texas duo has also worked in concert to spawn inventions like studyfracking.com, this one–as the url implies–even more directly masquerading as 'fact-based.'

It also comes up lacking, as former AP-reporter Judith Kohler writes in an op-ed:

But no matter what I typed, I was directed to the same "fact sheet" that paints a picture of a world in which nothing ever goes wrong. No freelance questions wanted or accepted.

From any look it is clear that Big Oil and Gas fingers reach into all aspects of the fight against local control.  And where big monied special interests are tossing cash around, DC lobbyists can't be far behind, also hoping to help learn some yokels how to talk sense into noncompliant locals.  

U.S. Chamber enters Colorado fracking battle

By BizWest Media Staff May 29, 2014

LOVELAND – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has entered the fray over hydraulic fracturing in Colorado, where it has organized to coach local business leaders on how to defend attacks on oil and gas development. …Christopher Guith, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce… traveled from Washington, D.C., to Colorado to inform leaders of local chambers of commerce on aspects of oil and gas development in order to help them promote the industry.

…The chamber’s presence in Colorado underscores the powerful interests that have aligned in the state to protect the oil and gas industry from citizen-led efforts to sharply limit fracking. [Emphasis Twitty]

Consultants, never afraid to rush in to protect the well-heeled and entrenched powers-that-be, are also appearing tablets, like carpetbags-of-yore, in hand to heroically defend the downtrodden oil and gas companies from Texas and their kindred corporate souls. That last bit of info was via the Denver Post, in some of its real reportage, not from its faux-news section bought and paid for by Nobel and AnadarkoYep, that Texas money sure does get around!  Thus we learn that Houston cash is behind another recent entrant into the fracking fracas, as the Boulder Weekly noted in an article from May: 

Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy is already scheduling ads for television, contracting, for instance, with KMGH-Channel 7 to air more than $360,000 worth of ads this summer and another $519,000 worth of ads in September, October and November, according to filings with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At least one other station is poised to air ads by the group — KDVR-Channel 31, which received a “Record of Request for Broadcast Time” from the committee.

Karen Crummy, a spokeswoman for Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy, declined to estimate how much the committee will ultimately invest in ads and its broader campaign in the coming months. She did say the group is serious about its efforts.

“Obviously we’ll do what we have to to get the word out on the impact this would have on the state,” Crummy says.

Currently at least one local control initiative is out as a petition gathering signatures to get on the ballot, and a decision on a slew of others is expected soon.  The Supreme Court could still throw a wrench in the works, and rumors persist somehow (it is not clear exactly) averting a ballot fight via a 'special session.'  But it seems that only certain Democratic politicians put much faith in the latter happening. No one else seems to. And the Supreme Court, as noted above, already approved the first measure: Initiative 75. So it seems like a Texas-sized fight is in the works for November, and the Lone Star State is already throwing its cash around. 

Even the more gentle of the primary business groups fighting against local control (the curiously named Coloradans for Responsible Reform, which does not propose any reform but does count former Interior Secretary, US Senator, Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar and nearly-as-prominent former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, on its board), can connect back one way or another to money coming into Colorado with a pretty clear intent of easing the way to take its resources out. CRR counts among its top leadership Kelly Brough of the Metro Chamber of Commerce. She also sits on the 'Vital for Colorado' board, which gets funding from energy lobby groups and companies and which includes top international natural resource law firms with representatives prominent among its leadership.  

Goldilocks & Local Control

In keeping with its industry supporters, Vital for Colorado argues that both federal and local control are wrong, but it is in a befuddled sort of way that seems to suggest there are exactly 50 types of geology in the United States::

Unfortunately, local drilling moratoriums and the threat of a statewide ban on fracking [lie in copy] could endanger these opportunities and negatively impact Colorado’s prosperity for decades. …

Fortunately, Colorado already has a balanced regulatory structure that protects the health and safety of local communities, while allowing for responsible energy development. While some groups are pushing to increase federal government involvement, state government regulation makes the most sense given the differences in geology and individual shale plays. 

Nonetheless this confusedly inaccurate message no doubt suits industry, which also wants to keep things just as they are, with only the state having 'primacy' in all things oil and gas. This is made clear again in one industry representative's spin on their own polling, that found that by 2:1 people do not think the state is best suited to regulate oil and gas, which industry calls 'mixed results' and then nonetheless uses to argue state regulation is best.  

For the last three years consistently, when we asked about who should regulate oil and gas development, fracking and so forth, it's kind of equally divided in thirds, generally. This has been the trend. A third say the states should be in charge, about a third say the feds should be in charge and about a third say local. 

By most accounts attempts to avoid a ballot fight, or more of one anyhow than what is likely already coming, has been so far unsuccessful.  But rumors still fly of talks and furtive negotiations.  Some accusations and pressure has targeted Representative Polis, who is one of the prominent backers of several of the measures, and a certain force-by-proxy behind it for the sake of campaign fodder.  

Much of that has been a bit over the top, even using Polis' wealth to make the charge that allowing local Coloradans more say in oil and gas development around their homes is elitist. Of course Polis standing alone among other big name Colorado Democrats (and Republicans) doesn't make him 'elite' or 'establishment.'  It may reinforce his reputation as slightly eccentric, but that is a crown he can steal from Hickenlooper–who is decidedly 'business-as-usual' on this issue.  

And the liberal vs. moderate Democrat division that some in the media have pointed to may not be all it seems either. So far there is not much evidence that energy industry representatives are interested in any bargain either.  To the extent that some politicians have hoped that a last ditch compromise will provide refuge from the issue: good luck.  It seems unlikely, and it seems a bit of a mess for everyone–coated like a flight of waterfowl that mistakenly landed in a disposal pond.  

Because it could be that the issue of local control is not a liberal vs. conservative issue either.  That some things unite Coloradans, like imminent domain for oil and gas pipelines did forcing Senate Democrats and Republicans to retreat.  

There is a reason populism rises as a strain throughout the history of American politics, and a core value at play as patriotic as the yeoman farmer, settler, factory worker, suffragette and  voting rights marcher.  Sometimes when the people lead the leaders follow.

Take a man that many on both the so-called American left and the right embrace, Thomas Jefferson–Author of the Declaration and inspiration to the Bill of Rights, Jefferson said a lot of things, among them supposedly was:

"The government closest to the people serves the people best."

But it was a nation united as well, and Jefferson more than doubled its size with a unitary executive action as president–the Louisiana Purchase.  So beyond the inherently American idea of local control, is there also  common cause to be found in conservation and protection for shared air, water and public lands? In a national estate? And of so why would the public be skeptical about the state's ability or willingness to properly and unilaterally regulate this often toxic, industrial activity sharing our environment?  How is that good governance? 

Maybe Williams (of Tulsa, Oklahoma) really thought that a 10,000 gallon spill was only 25 gallons or so as the tale gets told.  And maybe the fracking flowback fluid spew near Ft. Collins was just the result of a 'mechanical failure' and thus not really anything the state should hold the driller accountable for, at least per the rules. In the end the driller, PDC, was fined less than 50 cents per gallon of leaked fluid: or $35,000 for an incident that spewed 84,000 gallons of fracking flowback fluid for 20 hours.  It seems that industry and state regulators find common cause: no need for local folks to be involved or to have those snoopy feds poking around for that matter either. 

Thus when it is suggested that additional federal regulation is needed–say for standard disclosures of fracking chemicals, for air quality protection, to mitigate for climate impacts and the like; industry screams their porridge is too hot.  And when local governments want to tell a fracker to move back another quarter mile from a school playground, industry screams its too cold.  But when the state legislature fumbles and fumes ineffective in its dithering, and the state rubberstamps development and frets over wrist slaps, industry smiles and says that porridge is just fine

In the American system, of course, there are 'checks and balances' built in throughout.  There are supposed to be layers of jurisdiction that cover different aspects of a particular thing, say an industry–federal, state and local.  And Just as the federal courts can find that the laws of Congress require the Executive Branch enforce the Clean Air Act and regulate Carbon emissions, for instance, the various levels of government also work to balance power more evenly.  In Colorado with the ability for voters to govern via initiative and to even amend the Constitution at the ballot box, this check on our governors is even more direct.  Interested people can read all about this stuff in Civics texts.  

Sometimes it seems that the rapport and revolving door between industry and its state-based regulators is a bit too free-wheeling, that either federal or local involvement is too much interference among friends.  Two is company: American Democracy is a crowd.  

And despite what industry and its booster say, when it comes to oil and gas development there is room for better regulation at all levels of government–federal, state and local.  That is made obvious in the fact we keep having this discussion, and that it has gone unresolved so far as to push multiple measures to the ballot. 

In any case, of course there must be a strong floor of federal regulations that protect the shared environment that does not just belong to Garfield County, the Western Slope, Utah, or Colorado.  Air, water, public lands and public resources: these are all resources that the federal government has a stake in protecting and requiring the appropriate regulations to do that.  Similarly the state oil and gas commission sets the foundation for overall oil and gas development, off of the federal mineral estate, and  interacts with federal government to ensure efficient development of the resource and consistency.  In Colorado it is directed to provide necessary regulation to protect state and private property and people, and to facilitate the efficient development of the resource. But neither of these roles of government–federal and state, preclude specific regulation at the local level as well, when local jurisdictions have legitimate resources they seek and are obligated to protect.   

That seems like the better regulatory regime–levels of government looking after their own sphere of the public interest, down to the local level that can often best direct the particulars of this activity on the ground.  Additional regulations in heavily populated areas, restrictions for important agricultural or wildlife lands, and for other popular or sensitive lands only make sense, which is why these authorities generally already exist for local governments in Colorado–for all activity other than oil and gas. 

It may be that rather than a fight among 'liberal' and 'moderate' Democrats, or even liberals and conservatives, it is rather a struggle between local grassroots Coloradans vs. the Establishment: bipartisan, entrenched, entranced and increasingly removed, removed from the common cause being found among those that see the need for stronger regulations on this industrial and impactful activity, and those that understand local jurisdictions need more say in these types of decisions in any case.  

Local control has real potential to unite a classic Colorado coalition of common purpose.  Most of us are comfortable being different than our neighbor—we like our purple state.  And that is why a lot of Coloradans will agree with supporting local control.

And like its more familiar counterpart, this fracked fairy-tale does not end there, with Goldlocks scarfing down all the porridge, gluttony rewarded in the end.  Rather the bears get wise and run her off.

And Coloradans are starting to notice…wondering about this particular intrusion.

This time the bears get to vote: and just maybe they'll decide its not meant to be a porridge served up only to serve Texans' taste.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local Control and Fakery ‘Bans’ – Threat Vs. Threat

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Let’s talk threats, but first let’s back up.  Let’s talk about what’s not on the ballot this November:  A statewide fracking ban.  It seems that whatever polling there is, it must show that reasonable Coloradans support local control–We understand the fairness of trusting the directly affected neighborhoods and towns, and elected officials.  Most of the proposed measures extend the same type of authority they have with other development in their midst, around their schools, next to their homes, above their neighborhoods, in their drinking water supplies.  Egads! What to do?

Anti Local-Control Spin: Sunshine, Lollipops or TEOTWAWKI (aka “Statewide Fracking Ban”)

For clarity on that question, we can look to the recent op-ed in the Chieftain, the yellow rag out of Pueblo.  In it two board members of Vital for Colorado (one of the anti-local control group that has the Denver Metro Chamber director among its leadership). From that source, it appears, the answer is to prevaricate, also known as lying, bearing false witness, and a host of other terms.  

Of course there are always clever ways to kinda-sorta get around all that—the wonders of language artfully deployed! Thus we are told not that a fracking ban is looming, but the threat of a statewide fracking ban’ might be!  

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Rep. Cory Gardner is Anti-Science

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Erstwhile "Area 51" Congressman Cory Gardner is anti-science and he wants to be your next Senator, whatever it takes.  There is no other explanation for two actions he took this week between his campaign stops and fund raisers, while working his tax-funded day job as a U.S. Representative.

In one bill that he sponsored he is working to tie the hands of biologists trying to recover one of the West's iconic species.  In the other he is trying to tie the hands of the U.S. military in its effort to prepare for the effects of a rapidly changing climate.  Both efforts are sure to please some of his primary funders–the fossil fuel barons and Koch Brothers.

The potential listing of the Sage Grouse under the Endangered Species Act is a hot topic across the West, the subject of both controversy and concern with hyperbolic hand-wringing  predicting calamity should it occur.  The U.S. Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service is obligated under law to designate the bird if it finds that its extinction may be  imminent, and to designate critical habitat to increase the chance of the species' survival.  The ESA was signed into law by renown leftist tree-hugger President Richard M. Nixon.

I HAVE today signed S. 1983, the Endangered Species Act of 1973. At a time when Americans are more concerned than ever with conserving our natural resources, this legislation provides the Federal Government with needed authority to protect an irreplaceable part of our national heritage–threatened wildlife.

This important measure grants the Government both the authority to make early identification of endangered species and the means to act quickly and thoroughly to save them from extinction. It also puts into effect the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora signed in Washington on March 3, 1973.

Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed. It is a many-faceted treasure, of value to scholars, scientists, and nature lovers alike, and it forms a vital part of the heritage we all share as Americans. I congratulate the 93d Congress for taking this important step toward protecting a heritage which we hold in trust to countless future generations of our fellow citizens. Their lives will be richer, and America will be more beautiful in the years ahead, thanks to the measure that I have the pleasure of signing into law today.

Rep. Gardner–promptly joined by go-along congressman Scott Tipton–last week introduced legislation that would prohibit any listing of the bird for 10 years. Not based on science, or  recovery chances, or habitat protection or really anything, other than the notion that it might hamper oil and gas drilling, tar sands mining, oil shale dreaming and Craig-America's  never-dying hope for an Inland Empire where there should have been a reservoir any ways. Ten years might seem like a random number, but Rep. Tipton says it is because of 'real  science,' which presumably means findings that oil and gas companies have signed off on rather than that prepared by field biologists who have studied the matter for decades.

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Rep. Don Coram and his War on Rural Coloradans

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

"Members, this is a war on rural Colorado. This product on the Uravan mineral belt is their only option for jobs.  With this bill, that option is lost." Rep. Don Coram on SB 14-192

What Colorado State Representative Don Coram calls a “War on Rural Colorado” others might call the “holding environmental scofflaws accountable” or “making polluters clean up their mess before we trust them to not make another”  act. 

And surprisingly enough (if apparent conflict-of-interest is surprising among good-old-boy politicians) Rep. Don Coram fought legislation that could force himself to comply with cleaning up a toxic mess for which he himself is responsible.

As passed the Senate Bill 192 requires radioactive contamination to groundwater wells be cleaned up to levels that meet the standards of the Water Quality Control Commission for the well's historic use. But as originally proposed the bill would have placed stricter controls over all the 32 uranium mines that are still operational in Colorado, and on any new operations that apply for licenses.

As the Durango Herald noted in an editorial blasting Rep. Coram:

State Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, was on the wrong side of history Monday on several fronts. In opposing Senate Bill 192, he took on the role of a lobbyist, argued against a popular and prudent environmental protection and, at the same time, played off of the unrealistic hopes of economically challenged towns. It was not his finest hour.

SB 192 is a bill meant to address the kind of environmental disaster experienced by Cañon City when the Cotter uranium mill poisoned a neighborhood’s groundwater. It sets minimum standards for groundwater cleanup before a company can be absolved of further responsibility. It also mandates that uranium and thorium mines be licensed by the state health department if they use a process that involves injecting water into rock formations.

Remediation for ‘Collateral damage’ might as well be another name of the Department of Energy’s ‘Legacy Management’ program.  The ‘legacy’ is the mess of toxic waste that will remain deadly for thousands of years.  Colorado’s toxic legacy has already cost the American taxpayer billions—and led to the removal of an entire town, a trail of cancer casualties, and the ruin of lives from the busts that inevitably, almost inexorably, follow booms in company towns built to be solely reliant on single, highly volatile extractive industry.  

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Don’t Believe Industry and Enablers’ Lies: Local Control is About Local Control

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

So here is a question for people that ought to know better: What do Colorado’s “Local Control” Initiatives Set Out to Do?

It is not surprising, I suppose, that the oil and gas industry–faced with having to explain why allowing a local town the authority to create a larger set back than the standard imposed statewide, based on its particular circumstances, for industrial activity like oil and gas drilling, fracking, and development must be stopped–would resort to telling lies.  It is, however, disappointing when big name Colorado politicians and so-called civic leaders jump on the Bullfeathers Bandwagon

Kelly Brough, of the Metro Chamber of Commerce went so far as to call set-backs (requiring that oil and gas operations be located a certain distance from occupied buildings, for instance) a statewide fracking ban.  

“Whether it’s framed as local control or setbacks, the real intention of filing these is to create a ban on fracking in Colorado." 

This is so transparently dishonest it ought to be embarrassing.  The various local control and other oil and gas regulatory initiatives do not set out to impose a state wide fracking ban.  This is the case regardless of ‘fracktivist’ support behind the initiatives, inartful comments by organizers and proponents, or the typical agitprop BS from the scaremongers in industry.  

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Trouble in the Colonies

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Canadian natural gas development company EnCana is worried about its Colorado fracking colony, where the locals are restless and suggesting they might prefer local control over the industrial development in their midst

CALGARY — Canadian energy giant Encana Corp. says its operations in Colorado could be hampered by a state ballot initiative that, if successful, would bring oil and gas drilling under local government control.

Groups concerned about the impacts of industry activity want to amend the state's constitution to give municipalities the right to limit energy development.

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, local governments in Colorado may place restrictions on the time, place or method of oil and gas development, including but not limited to the use of hydraulic fracturing, that are intended to protect their communities and citizens," the amendment reads.

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Flip Flops, Pizza, and Industry NIMBYs

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado stands to become the first state to impose regulations on the sometimes copious amounts of methane that leaks during all stages of natural gas development and production.  Methane is a super potent greenhouse gas, contributing to climate change which in turn increases the likelihood and severity of extreme weather events from super fires to thousand year floods, from extreme cold to deadly heat. 

Now the silly pundits over at Fox News like to pretend that cold in the Winter means climate change is not happening, or that environmentalists are trying to fool America by referring to it as such rather than as Global Warming. 

Global warming, global weirding, and climate change are different terms that describe related parts of what is happening right now to our planet—Lifeship Earth.

Not so long ago the Natural gas industry loved talking about climate change, presumably because it was seen as a way to sell more of their product. 

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Fracked: Blow Out in the Gas Patch–The Oily Money Flows Freely

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It is not yet clear—at least to the public that gets to share the air, water and land—what happened at the Black Hills Exploration and Production gas well on public lands in the Piceance Basin over the weekend.

The working theory, according to more great on-the-ground reporting by Dennis Webb at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, is ‘down well communication,’ which is a technical term for a well blow out… only a different well, a half-mile away, from the well  being fracked. 

“COGCC is investigating the possibility the hydraulic stimulation of the horizontal wellbore communicated with the vertical wellbore.”

In this case an old vertical well from the 1980s, owned by Maralax Resources, and its old cement was not engineered to withstand the massive pressure forcing the cocktail of unknown, toxic chemicals, scarce western water, and mined sand into the earth, fracturing rock thousands of feet below.

Although it is not altogether understood, this isn’t the first time a fracking job too close to an old well resulted in a blowout. 

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Colorado House Republicans See Constituents As Impediments to Public Land Fracking and Drilling

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s Republican House Members Reps. Tipton, Coffman, Gardner, and Lamborn all just voted to cut Coloradans out of oil and gas decisions for public lands administered by the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It's no wonder that the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy bill (HR 1965) is lauded in glowing terms by the industry press, like The Bakken Magazine, because it promises to:

…streamline the permitting process for energy development on federal lands while increasing the amount of total development. The bill, sponsored by Congressman Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill focuses on two main areas of federal lands energy development: leasing and permitting [to drill]. 

Stripped of the self-serving industry frame, however, it looks more like Colorado’s Republican House Members all voted for legislation that would limit citizen input and force American taxpayers to pay thousands of dollars to petition their government.  It would also mandate leasing some of America’s best wildlife habitat for the still-fictitious resource of ‘oil shale;’ prohibit federal regulation or even study of fracking; and, generally ease the way for more drilling and fracking projects.  

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Embarrassment) puts it this way on his tax-funded website, calling the effort to eliminate public oversight:

…an essential part of the House Republicans’ all-of-the-above energy plan and would remove government hurdles and red-tape that block and delay development of our onshore oil, natural gas, and renewable resources. 

On the other hand DeSmogBlog puts it this way:

Lamborn’s bill also aims to prevent individuals from opposing any proposed drilling project by requiring anyone who wishes to file an official protest to a proposed project to pay a whopping $5,000 fee. Also, if the bill is passed, onshore drilling permits will be automatically approved if the DOI does not act on the permits within a 60-day period.   

The DeSmog description comes closer.  Public involvement is not ‘red tape,’ and not surprisingly Rep. Lamborn is an offensive twerp for suggesting that it is.  But DeSmog doesn’t get it quite right either, Colorado’s House Republicans don’t just want to limit the ability of citizens to have input on ‘drilling’ projects.  It’s worse than that. 

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Gov. Hickenlooper Serves Up the Sage Grouse for Thanksgiving

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It appears that Gov. John Hickenlooper will be serving-up the greater sage-grouse for Thanksgiving this year.

In comments during a visit to the Western Slope with local officials, he claimed that the science was unclear as to whether oil and gas drilling affected wildlife habitat for the bird that is in dangerous peril of being listed as an endangered species.

It’s hard to say that those activities are the cause of diminishing numbers of sage-grouse.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, 11/25/13.

Apparently, Gov. Hickenlooper doesn’t listen to wildlife biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and his own administration at Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which found that oil and gas drilling poses the single greatest threat to greater sage-grouse populations in Colorado—a threat that is “increasing exponentially”.

“In the eastern portion of GrSG [greater sage-grouse] range (Colorado’s population), oil and gas development was seen as being the highest threat to GrSG, followed by infrastructure as associated with energy development and urbanization.” [emphasis added]

- Colorado Parks and Wildlife, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Statewide Conservation Plan, January 2008

It’s unfortunate to see Gov. Hickenlooper use the bully pulpit for providing credibility to the junk science efforts of the Garfield County Commissioners, who are using thousands of taxpayer dollars to bring-in a Texas-based private consultant firm and industry-favorite wildlife biologist contrarian because they didn’t like the results of what the wildlife biologist staff at Colorado Parks and Wildlife were recommending.

The simple truth is that we need Gov. Hickenlooper’s leadership to drive a plan based on science that protects wildlife habitat and prevents an animal from becoming so rare that it is too expensive or impossible to save.

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