Another Fake “Concerned Citizen” Celebrates Fracking

Longtime oil industry employee Michelle Smith.

Longtime oil industry employee Michelle Smith.

A press release from energy industry advocacy group Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development yesterday discusses a pro-fracking ad (above) that's been playing for a couple of weeks in Colorado:

Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) has released a new television commercial featuring Michelle Smith, an organic based farmer from Elbert, Colorado, who relies on income from oil and natural gas development to help sustain her family farming operations. In the advertisement, Smith shares with viewers: 

“Mineral rights make all the difference to our small organic based farm.  Like many Colorado farm-to-table businesses, if we can’t offset operating costs with our minerals, then we’re out of business. Organic operations are expensive. People like us rely on those payments for their family’s healthcare or their kids’ education. An attack on fracking is essentially an attack on landowners like us. Those who would ban fracking ignore our rights, and that just gets my goat.”

…Beyond her message in the commercial, Smith has shared that “as a rancher in Elbert County, Colorado, my family’s livelihood relies on the quality of the pasture that our livestock grazes on. That’s why every decision I make, I make with my ranch’s future in mind,” she says.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post gave this ad favorable treatment in a blog post last month:

A new ad promoting fracking in Colorado features an Elbert County couple who raises goats and farms organically.

The idea of pairing organic farmers and fracking comes from Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development.

But there's more to the story of Michelle J. Smith, registered Republican of Elbert County, than either CRED or Bartels saw fit to explain:

The Quiat Companies is an innovative investment company, which is comprised of approximately fifty real estate and oil & gas holdings throughout the United States…with over 33 years of professional experience in the oil and gas business, Ms. Smith has been with The Quiat Companies since 1992 focusing on acquisitions, divestitures, and coordinating successful drilling joint ventures. [Pols emphasis] As Land Manager, she is instrumental in managing the nationwide assets of our fifteen oil and gas limited liability companies.

Ms. Smith’s professional experience includes Davis Oil Company (Denver, Colorado) and Anderman Oil Company (also in Denver) as well as acting as an Independent Land Negotiator. She is the president of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) Rockies chapter, a member of the American Association of Petroleum Landman (AAPL), Denver Association of Petroleum Landmen (DAPL), board member of Vital for Colorado and a graduate of Cypress College (California).

Just a salt-of-the-earth Colorado farmer–an organic farmer at that–trying to hold down the farm, right? Wrong. Much like the Republican political activists trotted out by Americans for Prosperity to tell their dubious "Obamacare horror stories," "organic farmer" Michelle Smith is about as unbiased a source on fracking as an oil and gas industry lobbyist–which makes sense, since she basically is one.

Your friends seeing this ad on TV probably ought to know that.

Clock Still Ticking on the Greater Sage-Grouse

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Among the news-you-didn’t-hear leading into the holiday weekend, which got buried by other things—some worthy of attention and reflection, others the typical media noise—was a recent poll on the Greater Sage-Grouse.  It shows sportsmen in Colorado (and across the other 10 western state where the bird occurs) favor protecting its habitat. 

This is noteworthy as the federal government just announced it is listing the bird’s smaller relative the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  This story was posted online by the Public News Service – Colorado:

Earlier this month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it is classifying the Gunnison sage grouse as threatened. Under a court-ordered agreement, the agency will decide by next year whether to list the greater sage grouse.

Meanwhile the online news service ‘Environmental Protection’ reports:

The National Wildlife Federation on Nov. 19 released results from a poll of sportsmen and women in 11 states in the heart of greater sage-grouse country, with a majority of the respondents supporting efforts to protect the bird and the sagebrush landscape that supports it. A majority backed restrictions in important habitat to save the bird and avoid its placement on the federal Endangered Species List. Such a listing probably would lead to more stringent, long-term constraints on activities as hunting, fishing, recreation, and grazing, said John Gale, NWF's national sportsmen's campaign manager.

"First and foremost, it's critical that we save this iconic Western wildlife species," he said. "We can do that with strong conservation plans that protect key greater sage-grouse habitat while allowing responsible energy development, grazing, and other activities on other public lands."

He pointed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announcement last week that it is classifying the Gunnison sage-grouse as threatened to keep it from going extinct. The Gunnison sage grouse is smaller than the greater sage-grouse and now is found in portions of Colorado and southeastern Utah, which represent only 7 percent of its historic range, according to NWF.

The Durango Herald reported on the Colorado angle

According to survey results, nine out of 10 hunters believe it is important to take action to protect sage-grouse habitat. Almost as many believe protecting the animal will benefit other game species.

(more…)

Oh Frack! OPEC Calls Shale Bluff, Sends Oil Prices Into Free Fall

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It seems that faced with declining profits of their own, as the frenzy to drill in American shale plays sent stockpiles skyrocketing and prices crashing, that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to call the shale drillers’ bluff.  Reuters is reporting:

Saudi Arabia's oil minister told fellow OPEC members they must combat the U.S. shale oil boom, arguing against cutting crude output in order to depress prices and undermine the profitability of North American producers.

For at least a couple of years a few observers have pointed to how over-leveraged most shale-heavy oil and gas drillers are, that shale oil–no matter how abundant hydraulic fracturing makes it appear–is an expensive prospect that cannot sustain itself.  Over-leveraged with a need to drill more and more and more at an ever higher ‘break-even’ cost, some astute observers have noted that shale bears all the hallmarks of a classic ‘bubble.’

“In 2016, when OPEC completes this objective of cleaning up the American marginal market, the oil price will start growing again,” said Fedun, who’s made a fortune of more than $4 billion in the oil business, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “The shale boom is on a par with the dot-com boom. The strong players will remain, the weak ones will vanish.” 

As with bubbles in the recent past, shale contrarians have been met in the manner of all naysayers during halcyon days of hype and hucksters.  But many have nonetheless steadily insisted that shale is not the panacea and ‘revolution’ its barkers want those seemingly born daily to believe.  And now, it appears likely, that the other shoe is about to drop: the shale bubble is about to POP

Investors have wiped more than $50 billion off the value of Europe’s biggest oil companies after OPEC members rejected calls to cut their oil output. 

Go ahead, seems the message sent by OPEC, make our day: See how long you can “Drill, Baby, Drill” with a mountain of high-interest debt and oil prices collapsing. And as with bubbles in the past—like booms in the western energy fields—any observer of history should already know how it ends. 

The only question: will this be the time we learn better?

 

 

 

GOP Majority’s Priority One: Killing Colorado Jobs!

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

As the Pueblo Chieftain's Peter Roper reports, a story with great significance to Colorado's economy:

The federal wind power tax credit, which Vestas and other windturbine producers rely on to support sales, is back in the cross hairs of conservative energy groups that want it eliminated…

The wind credit was one of the high-profile issues President Barack Obama campaigned for in 2012, the last time it was set to expire, and bipartisan supporters in windpower states extended the tax credit through 2013 after that election.

That extension allowed Vestas and other windpower companies to enter multiyear production contracts that are still fueling production at their factories, including the Vestas plant south of Pueblo.

The Hill reports that national conservative organizing group Americans for Prosperity, which has a large budget in Colorado, is leading the charge against the renewal of the wind production tax credit:

The conservative Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is publishing advertisements pushing individual Republicans to oppose tax credits for wind energy.

The ads launched Monday in the hometown newspapers of 15 GOP representatives in eight states who have not given clear positions on the wind energy production tax credit since it expired at the end of last year…

“It’s important that these members go on the record to let their constituents know that even during the little-watched lame-duck session of Congress, they’re committed to opposing needless corporate handouts at taxpayer expense,” Brent Gardner, AFP’s top federal lobbyist, said in a statement Monday.

Americans for Prosperity played a significant role in get-out-the-vote operations for Republicans this year, and funded a lavish ad campaign in support for Sen.-elect Cory Gardner. With that said, at least on the issue of renewing the wind production tax credit, Gardner is not quite giving this Koch brothers-funded organization their money's worth:

A spokesman said Gardner noted the congressman backed the 2012 extension and still supports extending it again — but ramped down over time.

At least not yet! This isn't the first time that Gardner has had to thread the needle between supporting Colorado's renewable energy industry, which he is obliged to do as any kind of responsible representative of the state, and conservative dogmatic opposition to any kind of "government subsidy" of this or that particular energy source. Groups like Americans for Prosperity say they're for eliminating all tax credits and so-called subsidies of energy production and "letting the free market decide." It's a convenient position to take as long as actually stripping the traditional energy industry of its many tax credits and subsidies remains politically impossible, which it of course is. In the meantime, AFP can make their hypocritical case against wind power tax credits without appearing so colossally hypocritical.

All of which works fine in states that do not have thousands of jobs tied to the wind power industry. Here in Colorado, these tax credits have a direct, tangible value in high-paying manufacturing jobs–the kinds of jobs that support many more jobs. Jobs we can't afford to lose.

That is why Gardner wants to "ramp down" these tax credits to keep his benefactors happy–just not right now, for the sake of pesky constituents back home who depend on them. That might make mortgages and college educations harder to plan for, but now that he's Colorado's junior U.S. Senator, Gardner can straddle this issue without conseqeunce for at least a few years.

And that appears to be what the voters want, folks.

People Testify to Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force

 "Our children should not be expected to be test subjects," said Angela Kirkpatrick, mother to a Greeley elementary school student. Greeley has allowed numerous oil and gas wells next to public schools, even while  COGCC (Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission) admits that there are "data gaps", and no long term health studies about the effects of breathing benzene and methane on children's health.

In Loveland, Colorado, Governor Hickenlooper's Oil and Gas Task Force heard public comments from noon until 8 pm. I took notes on the last hour and a half of the public comments. Around four hundred people packed the Meeker Building in the Ranch Events complex, to listen and to speak.

(Below, fracking rig located next to Greeley Weld School District 6 stadium in Greeley, CO)

Testimony that I heard ran about 2:1 for slowing oil and gas production until public health impacts are known, for stronger regulation and enforcement, and for  communities to control how much oil and gas production they will allow. The tradeoff in quality of life vs. the economic boom was a continuing theme. Many expressed concern about earthquakes in Weld County, probably caused by injection of fracking fluids under pressure. Audio links to public comment are here and here

Denver Post "Colorado oil, gas task force gets earful from elected officials" by Mark Jaffe

Durango Herald article, "Gas and Oil Task Force Looks at Local Control, "by Peter Marcus

Greeley Tribune article (behind paywall)

My notes on public comments:

"Privatizing the profits, socializing the costs" – Martin Lind

Maydean Worley: Northridge HS site in Greeley, with leaks near the school. At the proposed elementary school site, the drilling company was "stunned into silence" when residents requested an air quality monitor.

Nick Johnson: concerned member of Lafayette community. (which voted to ban fracking) " We understand that it's an economic boon – we also understand that it's a public health issue.We need to give more authority to our local communities."

What is being proposed is a land plan- set up land use standards before communities are built. – He's talking about how earthen berms were built to shield neighborhoods from noise and . (unknown speaker)

Rod Brueske – This commission, if they want to have legitimacy, needs to have a grand jury investigation of the COGCC, COGA, b/c of their interpretation of state regulations. These orgs have allowed reduced or no fines or fees for violations. They are acting with criminal negligence, and I highly recommend an investigation of this pattern of violations.

Jennifer ? – personal story about living next to holding tanks. I feel that I live in an industrial area now. Lights, sound, natural gas, open flames, truck traffic. Ugly, smelly, bright, noisy. Little info about long term exposure – I feel that my family are test subjects.

Shane Davis: I’m a miner. There are epic failures of the state and COGCC to abide by its mission . 40% of all spills in Weld County have already resulted in groundwater contamination. And contamination statewide.  You have to look at the failures to know what you have to do in order to keep them from happening again.  Please recuse yourselves because of a conflict of interest.

Mizraim Cordero: C3, representing business interests across the state. Mission is to keep state’s economy going. All industries, ag, construction, etc, not just oil/gas. Much discussion about local control. Regulating business on a municipal level results in unstable and inconsistent policies. “Patchwork of regulations”.

Chris Guttormsson

Property rights, mineral rights, etc. People don’t understand who actually owns the minerals. They don’t have control of surface. When you make recommendations, please consider helping public be better informed on this.

Dr. Judith Boyle I live in Highland Farms. I’m not against anyone’s right to develop their minerals. I am disturbed by the increased rampant drilling which seems to be happening without apparent forethought or a plan in place.  Regulations of oil and gas haven’t kept up with the technology. EX horizontal drilling.

Kristen Allen – homeowner in Windsor. Near proposed site with drilling within 500’ of people’s homes. Impact on their property values was negative per realtor’s appraisal when they wanted to sell.

Earl Pittman: – I’m Republican, pro-drilling. Brags about how low his gas mileage is.  I ask the task force to recommend local control. (cites long numbered rule). Great Western is the driller at issue. Colo State Dept of Health wants GW to move well site away from residents, but GW is ignoring it. It’s not a political issue, it’s a safety issue, and quality of life issue. They’ve lost our trust.

Robert Winkler: risk management consultant: I’m concerned about health and quality of life issues associated w oil and gas development.  We’ve voiced our concerns to local officials. They are unwilling to evaluate independent research data. Please recommend a comprehensive health impact assessment at the next legislative session.

Maggie Burns: sharing a story.  Grew up on Western slope. Economics does matter. There is a way to balance the interests of health and all the other concerns, but don’t forget that economics matters.

Andrew Browning: with Consumer Energy Alliance. We’re a national organization. We want to increase production of domestic energy, to promote jobs and increase energy security. Banning energy production not viable, not collaborative, bla bla.

Steven Olson: Loveland resident. Lot of rhetoric, movie Gasland was sensational, misleading. Loveland energy project, pro-development group. Technology has advanced to enable safe and responsible development.

Karen Dike: Retired RN from Loveland. Here on behalf of my grandchildren. Gov Hickenlooper, you are making those of us who live in Colorado into lab rats for the oil and gas industry. You are asking us to prove that breathing benzene, methane, et, are not harmful to our children. Your moral and ethical responsibility is to …..It is time to say enough to this industry.

Steve Juhan  My grandfather did a lot of mining and development. Long-ass bio, with no discernible point.  Oil and gas creates jobs. Thank you.

Michelle Smith -  I’m on the board of (two organizations) runs an organic farm. We are losing small farmers in CO. Our hay costs tripled.  Leasing our mineral costs 2X helped us pay for our hay. Better education on MOU is the answer. Property rights should be respected.

Michael Lozinski  Disgruntled homeowner in Firestone area. Noise level was unbearable. I support America being self-reliant, but we can’t do it being irresponsible. COGCC didn’t do anything to ENCANA. I’m a homeowner without any rights. Rules are not enforced. This favors big oil. Need to fix COGCC so they will enforce the rules.

Kaye Fissinger from Longmont. President of Our Health, Our Future. In reading the directive, B1 and B2 has made health and wildlife subservient to the interests of the oil and gas industry. This is a moral issue. A constitutional and statutory and regulatory error. Task force has an opportunity to correct these wrongs.  Can make regulations more stringent than those adopted by local government. Should be able to place moratoria as Longmont did.

Judith Blackburn –  Also from Longmont, a “ban promoter”. Current laws and precedents need to be challenged. Because its legal doesn’t mean that its right. It’s impossible to promote oil and gas and still protect the rights of workers and neighbors. Disingenuous ads from energy companies do not promote trust. Questions of inspection and enforcement aside, we are all in some sort of experiment here. No one knows the long term effects…….

David Quave  During the oil embargo, I learned how important it is to be energy independent. When I moved, I loved working my farm, living in nature, safe haven. I propose that we all work together for optimal pad placements, respect rights of surface and mineral rights owners.  I want to enjoy sitting on my porch.

John Clarke: Former Larimer County Commissioner, former Ft Collins —- No municipality has tools they need to properly regulate oil and gas. Costs to taxpayers would be high. Talks a lot, says little. Fracking is just like construction. Right…..

 Ken Stone:  I work for a local O&G production co. Story of his life. Without O&G production, this economy won’t hold up.

Angela Kirkpatrick parent of a Greeley elementary school student. COGCC agrees that there are “data gaps” which “warrant further study”. We know the effects of benzene. Children are more vulnerable. The effects of being exposed to multiple volatile compounds are still unknown. Our children should not be expected to be test subjects. It’s COGCC’s responsibility to prove to safe to the community. It is not the community’s responsibility to prove that it’s safe to the COGCC.

Tim Reams from Earth Guardians. We need to know what the fracking chemicals are. When there is demonstrated risk to health standards, shut the wells down. There is violation after violation, one company 70 different times. When the state is not doing its job, local communities have to have the private right of action. This guy got the most applause of anyone yet, prompting a stern “no applause” warning from the moderator.

I took video of the last half hour of testimony, and will add it to this diary as time permits.

The task force will continue meeting  today, Friday, November 21, until 12 pm. The task force is  expected to recommend legislation in the next legislative session.

The public made its wishes known. Overwhelmingly, people want public health and quality of life prioritized over oil and gas profits. We know that the task force members will listen, as they did just that for over twenty hours so far. But will they hear? And hearing, will they act to protect public health and the environment?

Will public concerns about health and quality of life have a greater impact on policy than energy dollars? That remains to be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landrieu’s Craven Keystone Clamor: Thank God That’s Over

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA).

USA TODAY:

The U.S. Senate defeated a bill to authorize construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, delivering a blow to Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., by members of her own party…

The bill failed to overcome a 60-vote threshold for passage by a narrow 59-41 decision. All 45 Republican senators voted for it, but Landrieu could not clinch the necessary last Democratic vote.

Thirteen Democrats voted with Landrieu, including outgoing Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and John Walsh of Montana. Additional Democratic votes came from Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Landrieu is locked in a Dec. 6 runoff against GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy. The pipeline vote has become a political issue in the race, where the state's oil and gas industry is supportive of the pipeline's construction and both candidates are avid supporters. The 1,200-mile proposed crude-oil pipeline would help connect existing pipelines from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols has more on the split vote by Colorado's two Senators, with outgoing Sen. Mark Udall cancelling out Sen. Michael Bennet's "yes":

“Senator Bennet voted in support of the Landrieu bill,” Bozzi said. “He would prefer that instead of focusing our political debate on a narrow issue that we develop a broad and comprehensive energy strategy to reduce carbon pollution and support renewable energy. He believes we should take aggressive action to curb climate change and support the President’s Climate Action Plan.”

Bennet’s decision to vote with 13 other Democrats and all senate Republicans only strengthens his centrist credentials, which serve him well in a purple state like Colorado, although conservationist Democrats weren’t pleased about it.

“We applaud Senator Udall for opposing the pipeline and are disappointed that Senator Bennet supported this ill conceived project,” said Conservation Colorado’s Pete Maysmith. [Pols emphasis]

As we've discussed in this space when the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline has come up in Colorado politics, there's an enormous amount of hype surrounding this issue, most of it from the energy industry but a little from the left as well. The claims from Sen.-elect Cory Gardner this year that the pipeline would create thousands of jobs in Colorado were just silly–the pipeline never enters our state, and Colorado's fully employed oil and gas industry is short of qualified workers as it is. In terms of jobs across the country, the temporary construction jobs the pipeline would create give way to just a few dozen positions needed to actually operate the pipeline once it's built. As for economic benefit for Colorado from the oil to be shipped via the Keystone XL, there isn't any: we already have a pipeline from Alberta to Commerce City, and the routing of more Canadian supplies to the Gulf Coast for export (which is what the Keystone XL is actually for, in case you didn't know) is expected to result in an increase in gas prices in Colorado and the central United States.

We prefer to stick with these practical economic arguments as they're in our experience the most broadly accepted–but from here you can certainly get into issues like the environmentally sensitive areas of Nebraska the pipeline is set to cross, or the role this vast supply of dirty Canadian tar sands could play in global climate change. The bottom line is, any way you slice it there's very little real incentive for Coloradans to support the Keystone XL pipeline. On the other hand, we don't see the Keystone XL as the end of the world, either–it's the fourth stage of a project that already connects Canadian oil supplies to American and export markets.

So why did Sen. Michael Bennet vote for the pipeline yesterday? He's come out previously as a supporter, but it needs to be kept in mind that the whole purpose of yesterday's misguided exercise was to provide political cover to endangered Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu. Facing likely defeat in a runoff next month, Landrieu has unapologetically banked her political survival on getting the Keystone XL bill through the Senate, even though President Barack Obama had already promised to veto it. The political wisdom of this was always dubious in our view, but Harry Reid scheduled the vote–and as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), it's not like Bennet would have left her hanging.

The only thing we can add looking ahead is, Stokols' "Big Oil love is good Colorado politics" presumption is not something we would count on beyond the rare figures who have able to pull it off–Gov. John Hickenlooper comes to mind with some obvious caveats, or former Interior Secretary Ken "Land, Water, and People" Salazar. As polling over this year's abortive local control ballot measures showed, there is a great deal of concern about the issue among Colorado voters, and it's not going away. We're in no position to predict what will happen on energy in Colorado over the next two years, but this won't be the last chance for Bennet to weigh in.

Next time he does, we hope to see less defensiveness and more, you know, vision.

Election Night Lesson: Conservation Universal Value in Colorado

[Promoted by Colorado Pols]

 

From our Executive Director Pete Maysmith: 

 

Have you ever seen a politician stand up and say, “I have an inconsistent voting record, get all kinds of funding from special interest groups and don’t truly have my constituents’ best interests at heart”?

 

Of course not; part of politics is spin.

We certainly learned a great deal about spin this fall. The lesson from Colorado’s statewide midterm elections?  This state cares about the environment and will not tolerate candidates who openly endanger it.

In the governor’s race, Bob Beauprez learned the hard way that being openly anti-environment will not go well in Colorado.  Publicly endorsing public land seizure, promising to repeal renewable energy standards and supporting costly water diversion projects, Beauprez was clearly a threat to some of Colorado’s most dearly held priorities.  These issues alone may not have cost him the election, but they were certainly a factor. Especially considering the fact that his opponent, incumbent Gov. Hickenlooper, faced strong headwinds after some unpopular decisions while in office.  Despite these setbacks, Hickenlooper beat Beauprez by over 3%.  It was not a photo finish but a clear, unequivocal victory.

 

On the other hand, Cory Gardner nabbed his Senate seat in no small part because of an effort to appear pro-environment.  Appearing in a now-infamous ad in front of a wind farm, he declared himself “a new kind of Republican” and labeled himself a pioneer of Colorado’s green energy economy.  His voting record would suggest otherwise (Gardner’s time in the House earned him a 9% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters), but his smoke and mirror tricks ultimately paid off.  

 

The optimistic environmentalist would hope that Senator-elect Gardner is in fact committed to keeping Colorado clean, and we share that hope.  But based on his voting record, consistent support of the Keystone XL pipeline, and tendency to minimize the impact of environmental concerns, we’re skeptical.  At the very least, we are certain we’ll miss our friend Mark Udall, who was a consistent champion for wilderness and the environment for Colorado in the US Senate.  

(more…)

Polis Improves Percentage Over 2012, Irritating Big Oil Greatly

Rep. Jared Polis.

Rep. Jared Polis.

It seems like ancient history today, but just a few months ago, Colorado's political class was embroiled in a major controversy over proposed "local control" ballot initiatives to give communities greater say in regulating oil and gas drilling. Several residential cities along the northern Front Range have voted to suspend or even ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing within their boundaries, in the interest of protecting residents from drilling's harmful effects but conflicting with the mineral rights owned by energy companies.

Out of a number of proposals that circulated among environmentalist and civic groups this year, two proposals supported by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) gained traction: an initiative to increase drilling setbacks from other development, and another putting an 'environmental Bill of Rights' into the state's consitution. Environmental protection has long been part of Polis' agenda, but it took on a greater importance for him after a driller violated the rules adjacent to property owned by the Congressman, later resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

At the same time, Polis was subjected to over-the-top criticism from everyone in Colorado with any connection to the oil gas industry, which if you haven't been paying attention includes a lot of Democrats. All kinds of speculation about the destruction Polis' initiatives would mean for Democrats up and down the ticket was traded at water coolers and spread among chattering class media outlets. Would Jared Polis' upward mobility in Washington take a hit? Might he even perhaps even lose to affable Republican CD-2 challenger George Leing for daring to touch the "Colorado Third Rail" of taking on the energy industry? When the race was called on Tuesday night for Polis, the headline from the Daily Camera's Alex Burness was almost gleeful: "By narrowest margin of career, Polis back for Term 4 in 2nd District."

Except, now that the votes are mostly in, that's not really true: fewer people voted this year, but in percentage terms, Rep. Polis actually improved from 2012 to 2014:

jared2012

jared2014

Sure, you can quibble about the role of the third party candidates in 2012, and it's not really that big of an increase, but the fact remains that the 2014 "Frackapalooza" debate has demonstrably not hurt Jared Polis politically. In every objective sense, George Leing was a better candidate than 2012's Sen. Kevin "Crazypants" Lundberg, and Leing had the benefit of all of this industry-backed presumption that Jared had "overstepped." All that before we even mention that this was a "Republican wave year."

Bottom line: as we've said before, the votes by residents of communities in Polis' district to suspend or ban fracking–Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette, and the others–are proof that Polis is representing his constituents. There's some disappointment on the left about the deal by Polis to drop his 2014 ballot measures in favor of a commission to recommend legislation on the subject, but the other side of that coin is what happens should that compromise effort fail. In that event, we expect Polis to be back, with ballot measures that can pass as this year's could have.

From these results, we'd say Polis should have something else going for him: little to fear.

Rural Endorsement: Mark Udall For US Senate

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(more…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was that what you wanted to hear? Good.

Was that what you wanted to hear? Good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Durango Herald Rips Gardner In Powerful Udall Endorsement

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And if they do that, Udall wins this thing.

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

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

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

September 28 Weekly Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Oct 5, 2014

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

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

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

 

 

 

Beauprez Climate Change Denial Gets National Stink-Eye

Bob Beauprez (right).

Bob Beauprez (right).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Mike Coffman Oil Rigged?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mike Coffman.

Mike Coffman.

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

The audience laughed.

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

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

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

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

(more…)