Get More Smarter on Friday (April 10)

So it’s not technically a “Good Friday.” We’ll take it anyway. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► Democrat Hillary Clinton will officially launch her campaign on Sunday, April 12, with an online video! Polling numbers are all over the place, which makes sense given that it is April 2015.

► Colorado business groups are backing a proposed ballot reform measure that would make it harder to reform the ballot — which is not a bad idea. As the Denver Business Journal explains:

Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 — introduced late Wednesday by Sens. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and Pat Steadman, D-Denver — would require a majority of voters in a statewide general election to approve any proposed constitutional amendment before it is then resubmitted on a statewide ballot the next year.

It also would require that state officials conduct public hearings about any proposed amendments in each of the state’s seven congressional districts before the second round of voting on the question.

► The State House gave final approval to “The Long Bill,” despite a litany of silly objections from House Republicans. The discussion now heads back to the Senate to work out differences over the $26 billion budget proposal.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 9)

According to a scientist from NASA, we will have proof of alien life in less than 20 years; make your own joke. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► The State House will likely take a final vote on Colorado’s $25-26 billion proposed budget. 

► Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced his campaign for President on Tuesday. As the Washington Post reports, things went downhill from there:

In a series of interviews after the freshman senator from Kentucky declared his candidacy on Tuesday, Paul turned prickly — briskly sidestepping tough foreign policy questions from one journalist, lecturing another on how to conduct an interview, and testily declining to clarify his position on abortion…

…the rocky media rollout of his presidential effort highlighted a key question facing him now: whether the same tough approach that has made him a favorite among tea party activists and libertarians might be limiting in a national campaign, as he looks to build a broader coalition rich with voters from beyond his base.

At least Paul still has hope that he can change Kentucky laws to allow him to simultaneously run for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

► Senate Republicans voted to kill a bill that would have stopped “Pray the Gay Away” pseudo-therapy sessions for kids in Colorado. Yesterday, President Obama denounced the idea of “gay conversion.”

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 7)

The Colorado Rockies are still undefeated. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► Colorado lawmakers are digging deeper into the issue of standardized testing in public schools. Strange things are afoot at the State Board of Education, meanwhile.

► Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul formally announced his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination today, telling supporters in Louisville (KY) that he is a “different kind of Republican” and framing himself as a Washington D.C. outsider. A “new kind of Republican,” eh? That sounds familiar… 

► Since we’re on the topic of Presidential candidates, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is in Colorado today to get all chummy with executives from the oil and gas industry.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Sketchy Pro-Fracking Donations Attract Interest in Ft. Collins City Council Race


Ft. Collins City Council candidate Ray Martinez.

A heated race for a seat on the Fort Collins City Council is attracting lots of attention from outside groups — including some that may not even exist.

Reporter Nick Coltrain of the Coloradoan has been doing a good job in covering the intricacies of the Ft. Collins municipal elections, which are rapidly drawing to a close (mail ballots are due by Tuesday). One of the more interesting races is in District 2, where frequent candidate Ray Martinez continues to be dogged by charges first leveled his direction when he first tried running for City Council 20 years ago (and later during an attempted campaign for the state legislature).

But perhaps the most curious story of the District 2 race was reported by Coltrain in today’s Coloradoan:

A pro-fracking group has spent $20,000 to support Fort Collins city council candidate Ray Martinez, city campaign finance records show.

Larimer Energy Action Project, whose website declares “We can frack safely in Larimer County,” spent the money to canvass and distribute literature in District 2, the east-central district Martinez hopes to represent. Martinez, a former mayor, is facing Poudre School District Board of Education member Nancy Tellez in the contest.

LEAP’s phone number on its website has been disconnected. Representatives from LEAP did not return an e-mail asking for comment Thursday. [Pols emphasis]

Martinez served as a paid consultant for a Colorado Oil and Gas Association-backed group that fought a 2013 ballot measure seeking a five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in Fort Collins.

Now, Martinez supporters are quick to point out anti-fracking groups have also spent large sums of money opposing his candidacy or supporting opponent Nancy Tellez, but that’s not the point here. Obviously both candidates are going to have different levels of support on different issues, but thus far, only one of those organizations (LEAP) has all but vanished since spending $20k supporting Martinez.

Perhaps LEAP just spent so much money backing Martinez that it couldn’t afford to pay the phone bill?

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

We’re almost Klingenschmitt-free today. Almost. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► The State Senate has approved a $26 billion budget for Colorado, despite complaints from Democrats that they were largely shut out of the process. The “Long Bill” now heads to the State House, where Republicans will inevitably complain about the process when they don’t have the majority.

A top official at the Veterans Administration has apologized (again) for the long list of problems in building a new hospital in Aurora. But Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson thinks Rep. Mike Coffman’s suggestion to cancel all bonuses until the hospital is complete is a bad idea.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 2)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1Only 364 more days until you can use that April Fool’s Day prank you just thought up last night. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► They don’t call it “the Long Bill” because they are being ironic. The State Senate gave initial approval to a $25 billion state budget after more than 6 hours of bickering. Republicans insist on continuing to debate the issue of immunizations for children.

► California is drier than a sandpaper sandwich, and Gov. Jerry Brown is calling for mandatory water restrictions for the first time in state history. Ten bucks says water conservation is going to be the issue of the summer.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


California Gov. Orders First-Ever Mandatory Water Restrictions

This is a significant story for the entire country, and it definitely involves our state since a great deal of California’s water comes from the Colorado River. As the Associated Press reports:

California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered officials Wednesday to impose statewide mandatory water restrictions for the first time in history as surveyors found the lowest snow level in the Sierra Nevada snowpack in 65 years of record-keeping.

Standing in dry, brown grass at a site that he said normally would be snow-covered this time of year, Brown announced he had signed an executive order requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to implement measures in cities and towns to cut the state’s overall water usage by 25 percent compared with 2013 levels.

The move will affect residents, businesses, farmers and other users.

“We’re in a historic drought and that demands unprecedented action,” Brown said at a news conference at Echo Summit in the Sierra Nevada, where state water officials found no snow on the ground for the first time in their manual survey of the snowpack. [Pols emphasis]

This is a serious problem that will have repercussions in Colorado, particularly in the energy industry — where fracking contaminates enough water each year to otherwise meet the needs of a city such as Lakewood or Ft. Collins. The oil and gas industry likes to say that they only use a small percentage of water compared to, say, the ocean, but if we’re facing an increasingly serious water shortage, these percentages add up quickly.

The “New Kind Of Republican?”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Remember last November?

I know, I know, a lot has happened since then — Katy Perry rode into the Super Bowl on a giant mechanical lion, James Inhofe tried to instigate a snowball fight on the U.S. Senate floor, and Peyton Manning turned 39.

Election season wasn’t too long ago, though. When campaign advertisements were absolutely everywhere, canvassers were showing up at your house, and flyers for this or that candidate were overwhelming recycling bins all over the country. It was a hectic time, to be sure, but one advertisement stands out: the now-infamous bit in which Cory Gardner, standing in front of a wind farm, claimed to be a new kind of Republican, one who was concerned with the future, preserving Colorado’s clean energy economy, and safeguarding the next generation.

For a new kind of Republican, he sure votes a lot like the old kind. In a recent series of votes on amendments to the 2016 budget resolution, Gardner voted against a key climate amendment that was sponsored by our other Senator, Michael Bennet. This was an acknowledgment that climate change is human-induced and would prepare federal agencies to prepare for it in a deficit-neutral way. The vote was far from party-line. No fewer than seven of Gardner’s Republican colleagues voted for it. Several of them hail from states that have historically shown less commitment to climate issues than Colorado has, such as South Carolina, Nevada, and Ohio, among others. This makes Gardner’s no vote even more baffling.  

However, it is not time to discredit his election-season promises quite yet. He also voted against an amendment that would enable the sale or transfer of national public lands. He has shown an interest in protecting our natural areas in the past, and these votes are certainly heartening. It’s clear that he has the wisdom to recognize that Colorado’s public lands define us as a state, and threatening them would be a reckless and costly move.

But Gardner’s votes against common sense  climate change issues (i.e., humans cause climate change so let’s do something about it) are a disservice to the millions of Coloradans who care deeply about our clean energy economy and combating climate change. Polls consistently show that Colorado stands firmly in support of action on climate, and Gardner’s votes should reflect that support.

It’s too early to issue a verdict on Senator Gardner’s term in office. He has only been our senator for a few months, but now does seem like a good time to remind him that he is in office in part because of his efforts to show Coloradans that he cares about clean energy and the next generation. Coloradans are still waiting for Cory Gardner to be the new kind of Republican he promised in the fall.


Gardner Gets Weasely On Crude Oil Exports

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

A news hit for Colorado’s junior Sen. Cory Gardner from the trade journal Hellenic Shipping News, a story titled Oil Producers Face Skeptical Congress in Drive to End Export Ban:

Coming into this year, it seemed that the time was right to overturn a ban on exporting U.S. crude oil: Republicans controlled Congress, production was nearing an all-time high and gasoline was falling toward $2 a gallon.

Despite a lobbying push by drillers, and steep job losses in the oil fields, there’s been no significant effort in Congress to lift the 40-year-old ban. Even the Senate’s top advocate for the idea hasn’t proposed legislation…

The reason for the go-slow approach is wariness among lawmakers that they’d be blamed if gasoline prices climb after the ban is lifted. And the oil industry itself is split, with some refiners, who benefit from low prices, opposed to lifting the ban. Oil produced domestically is selling for about $9 less than the global benchmark.

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on which Sen. Gardner serves, held a hearing on the subject of lifting the ban on crude oil exports. Going into the hearing, Gardner was reportedly “undecided” about whether to support lifting the ban, but his reported comments certainly indicate where he’s leaning:

Two members of the panel, Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who often sides with Republicans on energy issues, and Senator Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, said they were still undecided on the issue.

Gardner said it may make sense to sense to send some of the light sweet crude produced from shale rock formations overseas, because U.S. refiners along the Gulf Coast can better handle heavier crudes. [Pols emphasis]

Sounds pretty supportive to us! And an energy industry press release after yesterday’s hearing praises Gardner’s “insightful question” that teed up the industry’s argument perfectly:

“Colorado Senator Cory Gardner asked an insightful question yesterday about what happens if we don’t lift the ban,” said Eberhart. “We will have a glut of crude with nowhere to go.  Oil and gas companies will no longer have an incentive to keep producing, so we’ll start losing jobs. The current shale boom has helped create 1.7 million of them.”

Consumers are plowing their savings from cheap gasoline right back into the economy all around the country, helping boost economic growth. The full reasons for the current rock-bottom price of oil are more complicated than simply the “shale revolution,” most importantly the price war initiated by foreign oil producers intended to make North American shale production from “fracking” unprofitable. The industry wants a “price floor” to ensure their operations remain profitable, and the ability to export crude oil would raise prices at least by the difference between the American and global market price–and possibly much more, depending on what OPEC does.

And once the price of oil starts going up again as it surely will, American consumers would feel the pain even more. This is where politicians with the authority to decide these questions must face the hard reality of choosing between their oh-so friendly allies and donors in the energy industry…and the rest of the economy.

Gardner may pay lip service to being deliberative about this, but where he’ll land in the end is unfortunately a foregone conclusion.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 19)

Get More SmarterWe don’t care what anybody says: Today is NOT the first day of the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).



► Anyone got an extra $1.73 billion that they aren’t using? We may need it to finish the new VA Hospital in Denver that is actually in Aurora. Also, Rep. Mike Coffman is complaining again that other people aren’t doing stuff.

► Surprise! No, wait…what’s the opposite of surprise? Colorado doesn’t have much room in next year’s budget to fund things. It’s almost like we need a new source of revenue or something.

 ► We may not have much money in the state coffers, but at least we’re offering tax refunds! Thanks, TABOR: Destroying Colorado one ratchet effect at a time.

 ► But wait, The U.S. Senate will save the fiscal day! Oh, nevermind.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Step Right Up and WIN! This Boom will never Bust, Baby!

 (Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This Time Is Going to Be Different, Really…


“All that I am asking for is $10 gold dollars, and I can win it back with one good hand.  …I got no chance of losing, this time….”      The Loser, R. Hunter/J. Garcia

Colorado is about to lose thousands of jobs, again, as the latest boom and its promise of vast riches crashes into the reality of a volatile commodity market.  Again.

Like in the last bust in 2008 that hit the western Colorado gas fields, it was just months prior that the boosters, peddlers, hucksters and snakes, oil-salespeople were all saying this time would be different, this time we would ride the mineral riches to everlasting everything. 

Until we’re not.  Until the prices, in the most volatile of animal spirited commodities—fossil fuels, drop. Again.  And then Colorado is left holding the bag.  Again.

Last month there was an article about how poorly reclamation is happening, if at all, in Colorado’s oil and gas patch, a dry time in a dry land.

Sure the PR teams at shops popping up like mushrooms in the mountains after a monsoon, weave webs of spin to convince you, Colorado, otherwise. 

This time will be different.  Just like the last time would be different.  And the time before that. 

I love you, Colorado, I would never hurt you.


Of course Colorado is no stranger to the vagaries of volatility, in the boom and bust that is—in fact—the historical mark of the Mountain West.  


Will Fracking cause the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?

Probably not, but few any longer dispute that some activity related to fracking can induce earthquakes, despite years of industry pressure to deny the link.  But this is not about Frackquakes either. 

Not really. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management did try to lease the dam at the Paonia Reservoir once, and that gets closer to today’s update.  

For many it includes this perplexing fact: that oil and gas leasing on public lands starts with a whomever whim, nominated by no one really knows who, how, or why–and sometimes, maybe on a Friday afternoon when someone is not paying enough attention, something kind of crazy might slip through at the agency.  

The BLM did lease a cemetery for oil and gas drilling and fracking, according to a National Geographic article (sponsored—without intended irony, I presume—by Shell), published on its website today:  Fracking Next to a Cemetery? 10 Unlikely Sites Targeted for Drilling”:

Kanza Cemetery sits on a 320-acre expanse east of Colorado Springs offered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The rural graveyard, where more than a hundred people are buried, has been there for at least a century. Its land was leased for $26 an acre. 

The day started out like most others had before it, with Pa looking through the morning news and Ma off to collecting from the hens, when there was a knock on the weathered old farmhouse door…

Over cookies and lemonade at the Paynes’ home, a BLM representative informed them about the auction and its implications. She says they were assured that the graves would not be disturbed.

Drilling the Dead…

The leased cemetery and surrounding lands are among a number of places highlighted by the group Western Values Project in a new report “ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE: The Top Ten Most Shocking Places the Oil and Gas Industry is Trying to Lease and Drill.” 

It does seem that no where is off limits in the minds of some folks seeking their fracking fortune off the public’s domain.

The National Geographic article also notes, from the report, private ‘split estate’ lands in Wyoming where the landowners obtained a conservation easement to protect sage grouse among other species and resources, that the BLM has put on the auction block for oil and gas drilling at industry’s request.  

Indeed, oil and gas companies have been invited by the federal government to nominate public minerals under other people’s private lands, even those with conservation easements, and among the ranches and farmlands of the West for years.  

The local community had to fight back to stop the leasing of the orchards and irrigation works of Colorado’s North Fork Valley.  The agricultural lands there are the result of a century of back-breaking hard labor, first by Homesteaders then by generations, and decades of federal projects and millions in expenditures along the way.  (Thanks Wayne Aspinall!). 

Then there are the historical sites, and not insignificant ones: even the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site was nominated for oil and gas drilling.  BLM, thankfully, did catch that one before it went to sale.   

And industry has repeatedly nominated lands in the South Park area, including a large amount of Denver’s water supply.

There Interior Department reforms, that the BLM has begun to implement, have led to the agency agreeing to complete a Master Leasing Plan that hopefully will provide stronger guidance on which areas should be off limits to oil and gas development.  And in the North Fork Valley the BLM has agreed to consider a community-based set of management recommendations for the valley as it updates its resource management plan for the area. 

But industry remains, it appears, feeling entitled.  In Utah it has set off to achieve a new type of visual impact by taking on the art community, which is noted in the Western Values Project report.

This, in particular, seems to have attracted the ire of the grumpy-sounding Big Oil lobby spokesperson in the National Geographic article:

“A single artist determining that her work requires ‘an unimpeded view to the horizon’ does not automatically trump the public’s right to the energy it owns beneath the land,” [Kathleen Sgamma, Western Energy Alliance] says.

An interesting comment from a single industry that often behaves as if its interests trump the public’s in deciding where oil and gas development is appropriate. 

To that question it usually appears it has one answer: any where and everywhere. 

The oil and gas industry, it seems, does not see problems with leasing around organic orchards; in towns or city water supplies; atop sacred historical sites and on consecrated ground; the minerals from beneath another’s own private lands, even those under a conservation easement; in sage grouse or other sensitive habitat, or even amidst art installations.

No, fracking probably won’t cause the Zombie Apocalypse.  But there seems something unholy about letting the oil and gas industry be the one to call the shots about the public’s resources and lands.

Decisions about which of America’s shared places and publicly-owned resources should be subject to leasing for drilling, fracking and industrial development, and which ought not to be, should be shared decisions and not simply left up to industry to propose, decided behind a cloak of secrecy away from public oversight.

The BLM has taken important steps to making improvements in this process.  But it still has a ways to go.  Shining more sunlight into BLM oil and gas nominations (which the agency has now specifically re-designed its process to avoid) and strengthening the public’s ability to have truly meaningful input into where, when, and how this activity occurs, remain largely in the realm of aspiration. 

This is reform that the agency needs to stick with and complete. Because an informed and engaged public remains the best defense against bad policy. And Zombies.

A tool for keeping up with the PUC….

Hello all! For your edification, amusement, and commentary, I’m reposting from the Colorado Renewable Energy Society newsletter. CRES is a chapter-based membership org dedicated to the advancement of all forms of renewable energy (RE), energy efficiency (EE), and their synergy with sustainability and economic development.

We do a lot of awareness and public engagement, and one of the things we do is maintain a tracker of current and past activity at the Public Utilities Commission about renewable energy… more detail below….


CRES’ Colorado Legislative Tracker—Explained

By Rick Coen, CRES Policy Committee


The CRES Legislative Tracker is an interactive spreadsheet tool CRES members have access to (by request) which provides a simple review of the current session’s bills related to energy issues in our State. It covers all current and past legislative activity on bills related to renewables and fossils. You’ll find a link to the text of the bill, it’s sponsors, a summary of the what the bill would do, and when the next hearing or action is scheduled for so you can watch, listen, or run down to the Capitol and participate! Also, for ease of evaluation, there’s color coding indicating CRES support levels and a column just for Insider Information.

There are two ways to get access. One is at Periodically, static versions of the Tracker are posted so you can see what has been happening. The other is to drop CRES an email requesting access permission. CRES members will have their email address added to the site permissions and will be sent a link so you can see and contribute to the live Tracker.

That’s right. This tool is meant to be interactive and participatory. Those who have access are encouraged to update the information as they have knowledge of ongoing activity.

So jump in, get involved and who knows, you might find yourself testifying before a Senate Committee. Anyone can do it. The door’s always open.

Original post here.

How Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg Keeps The Government Out of Your Business (But Not His)



THURSDAY UPDATE: A reader pointed out this 2012 Denver Post story about Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg that you might find relevant to discussion of his $628,000+ in federal cash subsidy payments:

Poor Coloradans who apply for monthly cash assistance would first have to pass a drug test before receiving benefits under a bill that cleared a House committee Thursday.

House Bill 1046, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, [Pols emphasis] requires anyone applying for benefits under the federally funded Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, or TANF, to first pay the $45 cost of taking a drug test.

Those who pass the drug test would be reimbursed by the state and could get TANF benefits. Those who fail, though, would be denied reimbursement and any benefits and could not reapply for TANF again for a year.

Those who fail a second time wouldn't be eligible to reapply for three years.

"If you can spend money on drugs, why do you need the government's check?" Sonnenberg asked members of the House Health and Environment Committee. [Pols emphasis]

Indeed, Senator! You first. Original post follows.


UPDATE #2: None of former Sen. Greg Brophy's $113,000 in federal crop subsidy payments came from melons, which is good because he shoots those. 


UPDATE: Republican Rep. J. Paul Brown, a top 2016 Democratic target and another co-sponsor of legislation to repeal Colorado's health insurance exchange and subsidies, pulled down over $180,000 in direct cash subsidy payments from the federal government between 1995 and 2012–almost $130,000 of which was subsidy payments for wool and "sheep meat."

Got that? No health insurance subsidy for you, but sheep meat subsidies for J. Paul Brown. That's going to make for one hell of a direct mail piece.


Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling is one of the louder voices in the Colorado Senate GOP delegation, both literally and figuratively. Sonnenberg can be reliably counted upon to introduce some of the more combative pieces of legsialation in any given session, and he hasn't disappointed this year as sponsor of bills to roll back Colorado's renewable energy standards and to speculatively "compensate" mineral rights owners if local governments prohibit fracking operations on the surface. On the latter effort, the Craig Daily Press quoted Sonnenberg in typical form:

Sonnenberg said if counties or local government entities cannot afford to pay for what they take, they shouldn’t make regulations limiting mineral rights.

“If you can’t buy it, don’t ban it,” Sonnenberg said.

Got that? The last thing you need is the government up in your business, folks. Let the free market reign!

And then we got to thinking about it: what does Jerry Sonnenberg do for a living?

Jerry Sonnenberg is a Colorado native who has been farming and ranching in northeastern Colorado his entire life. He continues to live and work on the same farm that both his father and he were raised on growing wheat, corn, sunflowers, millet and cattle.

Jerry Sonnenberg is a farmer. Certainly an honorable profession and an important part of Colorado's economy. But in modern American agriculture, as America's growing resource-disconnected urban population is increasingly oblivious to, there's a catch.

The catch is government subsidies.

You see, the agricultural commodities market as we know it today is very far from what you'd call "free." The U.S. Department of Agriculture closely monitors the supply and demand of farm products, and pays billions of dollars each year in direct subsidy payments to farmers to protect their incomes from price volatility. We could write a very long post on how this all works, but the overall goal is to keep food prices in the United States low while keeping farmers gainfully employed. There is a great deal of debate about the efficacy and true beneficiaries of farm subsidies, but the political power wielded by farm states has protected the status quo for the last two decades.

The amount paid to farmers by the USDA in direct subsidies is a public record. The Environmental Working Group maintains a searchable index of receipients of direct farm subsidies since 1995. So we clicked here, and entered the name Jerry Sonnenberg:


That's right! Jerry Sonnenberg received almost SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS in direct cash subsidy payments from the USDA between 1995 and 2012. Clicking through to the breakdown of his subsidy payments shows that over $300,000 was paid to Sonnenberg in wheat crop subsidies alone, with smaller amounts for land conservation and periodic crop disaster declarations.

Again, our purpose here is not to disparage the practice of subsidizing farmers to stabilize the agricultural products market. But when you think about things like Sonnenberg's co-sponsorship of legislation to repeal Colorado's health insurance marketplace, which could deprive thousands of Coloradans of their subsidies to buy health insurance…well, how is that not as utterly hypocritical as it looks?

We have no doubt that Sonnenberg has a blowhard answer ready, but it is what it is. And the questions this kind of hypocrisy provokes are, in our view, pretty fundamental to debates he is having right now at the state capitol.

Bonus round: search for the names Greg Brophy and Mark Hillman! Or try some others.

Bruce Ben$on’s CU Loves Its Climate Skeptics

CU President Bruce Benson.

CU President Bruce Benson.

Since becoming President of the University of Colorado, former GOP gubernatorial candidate and major political donor Bruce Benson has slowly but steadily nudged Colorado's flagship education institution into a place much more accommodating to conservatives. We've talked in the past about CU's former "visiting professor of conservative thought" Stephen Hayward, whose guest professorship didn't really go so well in retrospect. And then there's the recent habit of CU's Leeds School of Business churning out pro-fracking position papers that don't stand up to elementary critical thinking.

The Boulder Daily Camera's Mitchell Byars reports on another example–but this one may have lessons for both sides of the debate:

The Arizona Congressman who last week asked the University of Colorado to disclose the sources of funding for professor Roger Pielke Jr. now admits an additional request for communications regarding such funding was an "overreach" — but defended the search as an effort to seek important disclosures for figures in the climate change debate.

Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva last week sent letters to seven different universities — including CU — that employed researchers who have been skeptical or controversial in their positions on climate change in an effort to determine whether any had received research funding from fossil fuel companies.

In the letters, Grijalva asked the universities to disclose all sources and amounts of external funding for those professors, as well as any communications regarding the funding or testimony by the professors to Congress or other bodies…

At the time of Grijalva's request, Pielke wrote that he has disclosed all possible conflicts of interest and has no funding "declared or undeclared, with any fossil fuel company or interest."

CU officials also stood behind Pielke last week, stressing that, "None of his research has been funded by oil companies or fossil fuel interests."

We've heard different opinions of the academic work of Roger Pielke, but by most accounts he very intelligent and no stooge for the fossil fuel industry. To the extent that his testimony is sometimes used to promote climate change denial, often much more broadly than anything Pielke himself has claimed, that's an issue. But we can't call that Pielke's fault, and we don't like the idea of academics' motives being questioned the way that Rep. Raul Grijalva did in this case–especially when you consider how that has happened in recent Colorado history in the other direction. We take Pielke and CU at their word when they say his work is not funded by the oil and gas industry, and we're confident their response will document that.

The only thing we can add is that under Bruce Benson, professors at CU whose scholarship just so happens to reinforce the oil and gas industry's position probably don't need to get special funding. With that in mind, we might suggest that Rep. Grijalva inquire somewhat above the level of individual academics, and consider the possibility of a more systemic problem.