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.


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. 


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. 


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. 


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.


When History Repeats: Another In the Long Line of Failures to Unlock ‘The Fuel of the Future.’

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Oil shale is the ‘fuel of the future,’ and it always will be.

                             -Some Colorado Wise Guy from Way, Way Back When

This past Tuesday Royal Dutch Shell—for decades considered the leader in oil shale research—made a surprising, although familiar, announcement regarding its ‘unconventional resources’  priorities moving forward.  It would not include oil shale in Colorado.  From the industry blog 'FuelFix:'

Shell is abandoning its decade-long quest to commercially extract shale oil from Colorado, leaving just one major company betting big on the future of that unconventional crude in America. Shell Oil Co. late Tuesday confirmed it was giving up its Mahogany project in Colorado after investing tens of millions of dollars and 31 years on the endeavor, to focus on other opportunities and producing assets. Chevron Corp., made a similar decision in February 2012, when it said it would abandon its own federal oil shale lease in Colorado’s Piceance Basin.

And from Upstream Online:


“So There!” Gessler Blows Off County Clerks, Ditches Summer Meeting

Still-Secretary-of-State-with-an-eye-on-the-door Scott ("Honeybadger") Gessler has decided that those who have spurned his efforts are not as important as other things.  The elected official tasked with overseeing elections has ditched the bi-partisan Colorado County Clerk Association's Summer Conference. County Clerks are the elected officials tasked with carrying out the elections, under the oversight of the Secretary of State, who has apparently taken his ball and moved on. 

Nonetheless, its exactly the kind of event that one might expect the Secretary of State to attend (rather than, say, a partisan Republican 'how-to' conference).  The County Clerks are not pleased. 

“We are not pleased,”

Colorado County Clerks Association Executive Director Donetta Davidson. 

The article, by Sentinel veteran reporter Charles Ashby, which is behind a paywall, includes some fascinating detail.  With Gessler's poor spokesman having to hastily erect the latest battlement of bs to thwart the public and its pesky prying of what should be petty, but private, payback:


Friday Jams Fest

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

For the 'secret weapon' we all know is waiting in the wings…we miss ya Dan, please consider your state and consider a run for U.S. Senate…

The Team of Oil & Gas Lobbyists Behind Gov. Hickenlooper’s Agenda

Reprinted with permission from the Checks & Balances Project: My friends at the Checks and Balances Project wandered away without their codes and keys…they asked me to share this with the readers of should come as no surprise that in the 2013 legislative session alone, the oil and gas industry spent $1.06 million defending Gov. Hickenlooper’s pro-Big Oil agenda. As a Chesapeake lobbyist wrote in a January 2013 memo that the lobby firm accidentally emailed to state legislators, “[Gov. Hickenlooper’s] relationship to the oil & gas industry is strong and he has been a national leader speaking out against the anti-fracturing forces that have invaded Colorado.”

Gov. Hickenlooper has had a team of oil and gas lobbyists supporting his administration’s work to gut or kill legislation at the state capitol. In fact, a Colorado Ethics Watch report released this week found that oil and gas lobbyists outnumbered oil and gas inspectors by a 28-to-17 margin during Fiscal Year 2012-2013. That investment has paid off big for Gov. Hickenlooper and the oil and gas industry during the 2013 legislative session.

Gov. Hickenlooper gutted a bill that would have set mandatory minimum fines for oil and gas companies that pollute rivers and water. After the bill died, his administration announced it would not fine Williams Company for polluting Parachute Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River, with cancer-causing benzene so long as it adhered to a consent order. His administration actually opposed an effort to add more oil and gas inspectors out in the field and opposed a bill which would have brought more balance to the commission that oversees oil and gas drilling and fracking operations in the state. With huge sums of lobbying cash behind him, it is no wonder that Gov. Hickenlooper has been able to keep Colorado weak on polluter crime when it comes to oil and gas. o&g lobby v. inspectors

The report released this week by Colorado Ethics Watch found that the oil and gas industry has spent a whopping $4.7 million on lobbyists from Fiscal Years 2008-09 through 2011-12 – more than any other industry in Colorado except the health care industry.

For those tracking Chesapeake closely, the company spent $130k on lobbying efforts over the last four years. Other top oil and gas lobbying spenders since 2009 include Pioneer Natural Resources at $640k, Shell at $571k, Encana at $415k, Bill Barrett Corporation at $376k, Marathon at $293k, Williams Energy at $285k, ExxonMobil at $272k, Anadarko at $260k, Black Hills at $224k, and, of course, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association at $402k.

BLM Colorado: Public Has No Need to Know About Public Lands, Public Monies, Public Employees

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a show of arrogance that has become too typical of the Colorado State Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the agency is ignoring a Federal judge, media requests, stakeholders, and the public in denying public information about public activities on the public lands, according to the Durango Herald:

“This isn’t a widespread issue of public concern. It is primarily press that are concerned about oil and gas leasing and activists that are opposed to oil and gas leasing.”

The state 'Communications Director', one might assume, has the job as a public employee working on public lands issues and spending public monies, of informing the public and managing media relations.  The 'press' and public are–this common-sense assumption goes–the PRIMARY purpose of his receiving a Federal salary as a taxpayer-funded public employee.

But apparently not for BLM Colorado–where public information is no such thing, and the public and media are merely distractions from what ever other self-determined more important things, like defending illegal agency actions perhaps, or intentionally seeking to divide communities


The Hackstaff Election Flier: Skullduggery or Misdeeds?

Hat Tip to David T for noticing this was licensed to Getty Images. 


So I did some digging.  Comments led me to wondering what exactly are the requirements for and agreements in using a licensed image, like the one from Getty used in the Hackstaff stamped smear mailer.

And, unless the dirty-tricks dark money shop has some particular and unique license with Getty Images, it would appear to be in violation of Getty’s license agreement

First of all, it is a licensed image, as the caption from the Washington Post story the original appears in also notes. 

People wait in line to vote at Caroline High School on November 6, 2012 in Milford, Virginia. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

From the Getty Images licensing information and indices, we learn it is classified as an ‘Editorial (Rights Managed) Photo.

Editorial (RM)

Products in our editorial collections are licensed with restrictions on usage, such as limitations on size, placement, duration of use and geographic distribution. Editorial products must be used in an "editorial" manner, which means use relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest. If you wish to use an image or video from our editorial collections for a non-editorial use, you must contact a sales representative to assist you. All licenses of editorial products are subject to Getty Images Editorial, Rights-Managed and Rights-Ready Image and Video License Agreement.

Getty Images serves as a broker for professional photojournalists, and this–especially–is considered a premium service.  And a premium, proprietary product. 

About pricing rights-managed image

RM images are part of our high-end, premium collections. The price is determined by how you intend to use the RM image. Need to display an RM image across multiple media types? Please contact us.

All licenses of editorial products are subject to Getty Images Editorial, Rights-Managed and Rights-Ready Image and Video License Agreement.

Maybe the dark money dirty-tricks shop mailing from the Hackstaff Llc address bought the premium license for this image.  If so it still appears it is in violation of the Editorial, Rights-Managed Agreement referenced above. 

2.4 Editorial Licensed Material may be cropped or otherwise edited for technical quality, provided that the editorial integrity of the Licensed Material is not compromised, but shall not, under any circumstances, otherwise be altered.  (Emphasis Twitty)

So, how does this work now?   If the dark money shop neglected to comply with either or both requirement above—that is in (1) getting a license from Getty Images, the lawful broker of the image, and (2) in following the specific requirements of the Getty Images Editorial, Rights-Managed and Rights-Ready Image and Video License Agreement who exactly looks into that?

Can Hackstaff Llc still claim it is just performing a client service if actual misdeeds, not just skullduggery, were done? 

Does this warrant an investigation by Secretary of State Gessler? 

“Special Sauce” Spews into Fracking Debate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here is a brief description from an article in the Windsor Beacon about the "flowback incident" in Weld County earlier this week that spewed a toxic mixture of green fracking fluid flowback into our shared environment for roughly a day and a half. 

Fracking involves the injection of millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand into the oil well bore. In this case, Halliburton used 4.09 million gallons of water to frack the Ochsner well.The chemicals used to frack the well included at least 15 solvents and other chemicals, including naphthalene, a possible carcinogen; a toxic chemical commonly known as Tergitol NP-4; and others, according to a list available on FracFocus.

The unfortunate event coincides with a slew of activity and debate around the issue of oil and gas drilling and fracking in Colorado. These include: Colorado’s Governor badly missing the point and talking about drinking a (non-utilized, non-required) PR substance referred to as ‘frack’ fluid.  The U.S. Bureau of Land Management deferring numerous parcels from this week’s oil and gas lease sale, for instance, near Dinosaur National Monument, then in the North Fork, then again near Mesa Verde National Park


‘Visions of Oil Shale Drums Danced in Their Heads’

This past weekend the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel ran opposing op-eds on the prospects of oil shale development in Colorado, and specifically on the Obama administration’s pending finalization of an oil shale leasing plan.  

The Obama plan is a solid improvement over an earlier plan put forth by the Bush administration.  It would help ensure that oil shale development–should it ever prove viable–happens more sensibly.  With finalization, future decisions about developing oil shale will have to recognize resources like our scarce water and the public lands of the Piceance Basin are too valuable and important to just hand over to industry without knowledge of what exactly we would be getting into.  Industry will have to be able to show what the impacts to those resources are likely to be before they are given permissions and permits to do so.  

The Sentinel columns are behind a paywall but are notable not only for the substance but for the authors. On one hand Colorado Department of Natural Resource Director Mike King–himself a western Colorado native.  On the other Brad McCloud the director of the suspiciously-named ‘Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale’ also known as EIS Solutions, an industry-funded astrourfing PR shop.  

Of course significant questions still remain about potential impacts that might result from a commercial oil shale industry in Western Colorado. And King’s basic point is there is no reason to rush ahead, given both technologies and impacts remain unknown.  

This is because after a century of effort and billions in taxpayer subsidies to help “unlock” the secret of the ‘rock that burns’ and turn it into a commercial fuel source: zilch.  

Oh sure, there is talk as there has always been, and then another glitch, another setback, another delay. But with the Obama administration poised to finalize new leasing parameters and regulations for oil shale, the rhetoric has of late heated up. This is where the EIS Solutions op-ed comes in.  Mr. McCloud argues that the U.S. taxpayer is not making enough of the public’s resources available to industry, and not enough is the same as nothing in industry’s overblown rhetoric.    

Despite its history of disappointment and despair, the yet imaginary oil shale industry has an eager–if not unpredictable–chorus of boosters, including a handful of elected officials like Garfield Country commissioners John Martin and Tom Jankovsky. Having had to retract its illegal resolution from the secret meeting with oil shale lobbyists in Utah, the GarCo commission nonetheless recently decided to throw more taxpayer money after bad and file a protest on the Obama administration’s pending oil shale plan.


Reading Mr. McCloud’s op-ed, perusing industry and other reactionary blogs, or seeing the Chicken Little quotes from the likes of Commissioner Jankovsky, one might think that President Obama has actively thwarted, stopped, and shut down oil shale development, ‘closing off’ millions of acres and shutting down production of untold gushers of ‘crude’.

In reality, the Obama administration just approved new oil shale Research, Development and Demonstration leases, and is set to make over half a million acres of additional public lands available for further RD&D leasing.

To many observers, the whine of industry and their choir is the song of the self-entitled, for more: another hand out, more public land, more public dollars. The pending plan would dial back the Cheney Task Force inspired ‘open it all up now’ approach and require that companies first prove up their technologies and show they can properly mitigate impacts on a more limited basis before moving toward commercial leasing. This more measured approach has won the support of Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet in addition to the State of Colorado.  

Among other reasons, and why notable local governments support the Obama plan including Rifle and Grand Junction, is the memory of the last time federal subsidies for research were handed out and and public lands thrown open to the sugar plum dreams of oil shale.  That ended badly for Colorado in May 1982 .


So far industry, on the hundreds of thousands of acres it already controls or has under lease has failed to demonstrate what commercial oil shale technology might look like, and what it might impact.  

But to the oil shale chorus who seem to accept at face value whatever sweet things industry whispers in their ear: all the industry needs to succeed is more taxpayer beneficence and public resources. And so we get to Texas congressman Ralph Hall who is proposing $50 million in additional taxpayer subsidies for oil shale.

Rep. Hall, the Garfield County Commissioners and all the industry choir sing of the great manna about to be cooked from the earth if only more public treasure is handed over to industry.  This is the absolute wrong approach according to many, as summed up in this radio clip with former Grand Junction mayor Jim Spehar here. Spehar, like many others, prefers the Obama administration’s approach.    

And so the boosters evoke grand visions of great and wondrous things, to distract as they can from real and persistent questions and lingering doubts about our precious water supplies, impacts to wildlife, our economic future.

And even as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation supposedly considers siphoning water from Kansas to Colorado to replenish the dwindling river with that namesake, a small water company in Rio Blanco County (doc) has filed for a massive water development on its rights–enough for a large city–in part to quench the industrial needs of a future oil shale industry.  

“But do not fear,” the choir hums, “Gold will drip like oil from the skies, if only industry can have its way.”

The potential for both quantity and quality impacts to our vital water resources and to the public lands has many in Colorado concerned–another reason the State is siding with the measured approach of the Obama administration.

And while the industry and its choir try hard to divert attention from these recurrent concerns, serious doubts persist.    

Taxpayer groups are skeptical of another boondoggle, to see more public dollars go to boosting up oil shale.  Sportsmen, elected officials, state and local governments, are among those concerned about the impact to resources.

But the oil shale choir remains, chanting to hand over more public wealth to a mythical oil shale industry lured with promises of future goodies to come.  

Rep. Tipton backs DC-based Club for Growth over Colorado Farmers

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: On Thursday Republican House Speaker John Boehner announced that there will be no attempt to pass a farm bill before the November elections.

Like most people, you probably don’t expect the House to do much of anything, but what makes this story problematic is that it counteracts Scott Tipton’s argument for withdrawing his support for a measure that would have put a Farm Bill on the House floor.

Either Tipton was lying when he said he pulled his support because he was told that there would be action on a Farm Bill “soon,” or Boehner just kicked him and his re-election campaign right in the ass.


Congressman Scott Tipton has ‘abruptly’ withdrawn his support for a ‘discharge petition’ that would have forced Floor action on the stalled Farm Bill, although he regularly professes support for the legislation when he is out stumping in his largely rural district.  

Numerous sources, including The Hill are reporting:

After supporting a discharge petition aimed at bypassing the GOP’s control of the House schedule, Reps. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) and Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) on Friday abruptly withdrew their signatures.

Should the petition attract 218 signatures, the farm bill would come to the floor later this year. While that is highly unlikely, it is clear that GOP leaders view the possibility of mounting support for action on the farm measure as a political problem.

Tipton, who is in a competitive reelection race, and Ellmers on Friday walked to the well of the House floor and signed their names on the discharge petition.

Later on Friday, the freshman members returned to the same spot to strike their names.

Rep. Tipton on the stump supports Colorado farmers, and the Farm Bill, at least when he’s talking to them anyhow.

So what prompted Tipton to jettison the rural communities of Western Colorado and the San Luis Valley, at the last minute in spite of numerous promises otherwise, even as the Congressional calendar ticks down?   Follow me, readers, after the fold to see how Washington DC special interests won the day when Rep. Tipton had to choose between cash-flush lobbyists and Colorado constituents.  

Congressman Scott Tipton regularly talks up the importance of the Farm Bill when he is out and about his sprawling rural district.  Suddenly however when push came to shove and leadership was needed Congressman Tipton turned tail.  

Was it that ideologues threatened to extract political pain from any who dare stray from their orthodoxy?

It does so happen that in the intervening hours between signature and striking it the Club for Growth sent this out:  


Opposing Discharge Petition No. 0005 on the Farm Bill

The Club for Growth strongly opposes Discharge Petition No. 0005 that would force floor consideration of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (HR 6083), otherwise known as the farm bill.

A House member’s signature on this discharge petition, or any similar petition, will count heavily as an anti-growth action on the Club for Growth’s 2012 Congressional Scorecard.

So does that mean that the representative of Colorado’s Third Congressional District–a land spanning many agricultural zones from ranches to orchards to Olathe Sweet Corn and vineyards–no longer supports the Farm Bill as he has been telling farmers and local officials across his District?    

Not according to the Congressman’s contortionist, and spokesman, Josh Green who had this explanation, according to the article in The Hill:

Tipton spokesman Josh Green said that his boss made his point with the initial signature, and subsequently heard from leaders of their intention to move a farm measure.

“Congressman Tipton voted for the farm bill in committee and is doing everything he can to push for a floor vote. He added his name to the discharge petition to send a message that we need a farm bill. That message got attention, and shortly after adding his name, leadership assured Congressman Tipton that they would be taking action on the House floor in the near future to provide some certainty for the agriculture community,” Green said.

So, as Congress comes to an end–at least until it reconvenes in its end-of-year Lame Duck–Colorado’s farmers can just wait.  Sure, Rep. Tipton says its a priority, but the Club for Growth says he better not.  And guess who he listens to?