Udall Votes Against Keystone XL Pipeline; Colorado Shrugs

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

As the Denver Post's Mark Matthews reports on today's vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in favor of building the Keystone XL pipeline, a vote on which Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado dissented:

[M]embers of both parties have called the move a show vote because it’s widely believed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won’t allow a floor vote on the measure, which would fast-track construction of the [Keystone XL] oil pipeline…

Environmentalists have raised concerns about potential spills and the pipeline's long-term effect on the planet. Supporters say it would provide a much-needed boost to the economy and employment.

During Wednesday's debate on the issue, Udall did not speak — other than to cast a "no" vote against the project.

A Udall spokesman later explained the senator's position.

"He believes the technical review needs to be seen through to the end," said Mike Saccone, referring to ongoing administrative reviews of the pipeline that could extend beyond November's election.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reported just before the vote:

Udall has indicated he will vote against the measure because he believes Congress should wait until the independent review process is completed before taking action, offering a process-based rationale for voting no while leaving the door open to eventually supporting the construction of the pipeline.

We've talked a few times about the ginned-up political controversy over building the Keystone XL pipeline–more correctly, completing an additional section of the line that would speed the delivery of Canadian heavy crude oil to global export terminals in Texas and Louisiana. As we've noted previously, the question is almost totally irrelevant to Colorado energy consumers, since we already have pipelines from Commerce City to the Alberta tar sands. If you live along the Front Range, there's a good chance you're burning Canadian heavy crude in your gas tank right now. Proponents of the pipeline have put out absurdly overestimated job creation figures to hard-sell the pipeline's construction, along with copious doses of "free market" propaganda.

But the truth is, the only real impact on Colorado energy consumers if the Keystone XL Stage 4 is built will be higher local gas prices. By shipping more Canadian heavy crude across the U.S. to Gulf Coast export terminals to global markets, studies forecast a possible 10 to 20 cent per gallon increase for gasoline in the central states.

With all of this in mind, the Keystone XL pipeline is just not an issue that Coloradans have any vested interest in. The strained arguments in favor of building Keystone XL, and shrill attacks on any opponents, are wasted money on most voters because they simply have no reason to care. Polls do show support for the pipeline's construction, but there's no public outcry for doing so despite all the money spent by the energy industry to "raise awareness." Sen. Udall and President Barack Obama's administration have not come out against building the pipeline eventually, just against going ahead with fast-tracked construction ahead of the project's completed reviews and legal challenges. A case pending before the Nebraska Supreme Court challenging the route of the pipeline in that state is the true holdup today, and Udall is on perfectly defensible ground waiting for that to be resolved.

If Republicans want to waste their money attacking Udall on this nonissue, Democrats should let them flail away.

GOP Gubernatorial Candidates on Local Control: Yeah, Right

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

The Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports, not that there was ever much doubt, but for the record:

None of Colorado’s four Republican gubernatorial candidates support Gov. John Hickenlooper’s current effort to give local governments more regulatory authority over drilling operations in exchange for U.S. Rep. Jared Polis yanking down his nine proposed regulatory ballot initiatives, with all of them saying that doing so would be, in essence, capitulating to the wealthy Democratic congressman.

Only one of the quartet — former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo — said that he would be open to some measure of local control on some oil and gas issues, while another, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, said he believes drilling restrictions already are too harsh and should be rolled back in order to boost the energy economy in Colorado…

Hickenlooper, Polis and the state’s two largest drillers have agreed on a compromise proposal, but the governor is seeking more industry and business support — enough, administration sources say, to get a number of Republicans to vote for the bill — before he calls a special session.

If one of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates were in office right now, it’s pretty clear that no such negotiations would be underway. [Pols emphasis]

Of the four responses, we have to say that Tom Tancredo’s comes the closest to a reasonable position, at least acknowledging the desire of local communities to have some control over heavy industrial operations like oil and gas drilling within their boundaries. All of them employ Rep. Jared Polis as a scapegoat, although Sealover notes correctly that the resistance blocking the local control compromise legislation is from the energy industry.

As for Scott Gessler’s contention that regulations on oil and gas in Colorado are already “too strict” and should be rolled back to “boost the energy economy,” well, that’s the Honey Badger for you! That will almost certainly be a minority viewpoint among general election voters, but for the purposes of moving out of distant third place in this primary, Gessler’s ready to pander and pander hard.

Bottom line: Gov. John Hickenlooper’s friendly relations with the energy industry are a matter of record, about which we’ve had plenty to say in this space–the good, like bringing the industry and conservationists to the table for strong new air quality rules, and the bad like Hickenlooper’s dubious taste for fracking fluid. Fortunately for Hickenlooper, one of these guys will be the alternative in November–and there will be a clear, or at least clear enough, distinction.

Two More Fracking Ballot Measures Approved; Industry Hardliners Still Won’t Bend

Fracking compromise in Colorado

Um, you know these cards don’t make a useful hand, right?

As we've written about before in this space, a potential legislative compromise agreement on fracking safety, led by Gov. John Hickenlooper, is still being held up by business and oil and gas hardliners who seem content to try to bluff with a hand of mismatched cards.

As the Denver Post reports today, that bluff just keeps looking weaker and weaker:

Two more ballot initiatives that could limit oil and gas drilling have been approved for gathering of petition signatures by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Initiative 88 would require new oil and gas wells to be located at least 2,000 feet from the nearest occupied structure. Current state law establishes well setbacks at 500 feet.

Initiative 92 would give local governments the authority to limit or prohibit oil and gas development within their jurisdictions. The measure proposes that if state and local laws conflict, the more restrictive laws would govern drilling.

Both Initiative 88 and Initiative 92 have received substantial financial backing from Rep. Jared Polis, who has dealt firsthand with fracking on his property in Weld County. Despite having a very personal stake in this issue, Polis has made it clear that he is willing to support a legislative agreement. "Despite the draft not being perfect I stand ready and willing to support the compromise and I appreciate all the work that has been done to craft this bill," Polis said in a statement.

Though no official agreement has been reached that would remove all fracking-related measures from the November ballot, Hickenlooper has managed to bring several key players into the fold. Three of the largest oil and gas companies operating in Colorado — Anadarko, Noble Energy, and PDC — have agreed with Polis to cooperate on a legislative solution. But any potential deal continues to be blocked by groups such as the Colorado Petroleum Association and the Colorado Association of Homebuilders, as well as a handful of some of the smaller oil and gas operations in Colorado. You read that correctly — many of the companies that still oppose any sort of compromise deal aren't even that active in Colorado drilling.

Check out this data on active wells through 2013, via the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR):

O&G Companies Percent of Wells in Colorado Position on Compromise
Anadarko, Noble Energy, PDC 34% SUPPORT
Conoco/Phillips 7% OPPOSE
BP/Chevron/XTO 6.8% OPPOSE

As you can see, the oil and gas companies with the largest stake in Colorado drilling operations are all supportive of a legislative compromise. What's the deal here? Did Anadarko and Noble Energy forget to pay their annual dues to the Colorado Petroleum Association?

Regardless of your opinion on the issue, it's curious that a potential agreement on fracking is still being held up by a handful of hardliners who don't seem to understand that local control is a winning issue. There has been plenty of saber-rattling by industry folks threatening to spend gajillions of dollars to defeat any potential ballot measure this fall, but this appears to be one of those issues that can't just be defeated with a checkbook. Put it this way: if a local control measure makes the ballot in November, would you really bet against its passage? Remember that the Colorado Oil and Gas Association spent nearly $1 million last fall to defeat four local ballot measures…and couldn't prevent any of them from passing. If they couldn't defeat local ballot measures in an off-year election with a crapload of cash, why would anybody think that their odds would improve in 2014?

Still No News On Local Control Special Session Deal

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports on what's known, as of today, about the state of negotiations over local control legislation to forestall oil and gas local regulation measures being readied for this November's statewide ballot. The latest news is…no news:

Draft legislation shopped around this weekend that seeks to clarify powers held by state, county and city authorities in Colorado to regulate oil-and-gas drilling has not won full support by the main negotiating parties, and so a special legislative session tentatively scheduled to begin today in Denver has been postponed.

Officials have said for some time that they hoped to make a deal in June. Governor John Hickenlooper weeks ago asked lawmakers to clear their schedules for the beginning of this week. That Friday’s proposal failed to gain the support it needed to launch the session today seems like a significant setback. Although the governor can call a special session any time, sources have said they want to ink a deal before election-year momentum builds and campaign politics steal progress already made and narrow wiggle room in which to find future compromise.

The draft bill sparked frenzied speculation over the weekend that parties had drawn close to a deal after weeks of stops and starts and that the plan for a special session beginning today was on track.

News this morning that the proposal has so far failed to launch the session will please grassroots groups that have led the movement in the state over the past five years to push back against boom-time natural-gas drilling activity. The groups received the six-page proposal this weekend with frustration and anger.

Rep. Jared Polis, so far the leading backer of any serious effort to pass a local control ballot measure, is reportedly willing to pull his support for the initiatives, if the draft legislation unveiled Friday sees no weakening during legislative debate. Grassroots supporters of greater local control, who aren't happy with the draft legislation, need the support of Polis and/or other well-heeled players to have any realistic shot at winning a statewide ballot fight against what would doubtless be fierce industry opposition. But the reason a special session of the legislature did not convene today is the closely divided body, particularly the Colorado Senate where pro-industry Democrats throw a one-seat majority into doubt, may not be in a position to pass anything.

The question is, would that really be so bad?

It's critical to remember as these negotiations drag on that there is a great deal of public support, as evidenced by the local "fracking" bans and moratoria that have passed in several Front Range residential cities, for strengthening local control over oil and gas drilling. Arguments that a statewide local control ballot measure could hurt Democrats politically are poorly founded and of dubious origin. If the industry and its political allies get cocky, for which the early shrill attacks on Polis betray at least a desire, there's no reason to further try to appease them.

A legislative compromise is the industry's chance to prevent both tighter regulation and humiliation in a statewide vote–and the risk of consequences at the ballot box in November hinges on the industry's willingness to show good faith today. The compromise that Polis says he would accept even as many grassroots activists complain about its weakness is, under the assumption the local control measures can pass in November, as good a deal as the industry is going to get.

If they don't understand that, we say let them learn the hard way.

Log Cabin Republicans’ Tasteless War On Jared Polis Continues

Log Cabin Republicans logo.

Log Cabin Republicans logo.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels keeps the non-AM radio, non-print news world up to date on the Log Cabin Republicans, "the nation’s original and largest organization representing gay conservatives and allies who support fairness, freedom, and equality," and their ongoing campaign attacking Rep. Jared Polis over his support for ballot measures to enhance local control over oil and gas drilling:

The Log Cabin Republicans are back with another attack on Rep. Jared Polis, this time using his background in internet floral delivery to ding the Boulder Democrat over his support for ballot measures that critics say would cripple Colorado’s oil-and-gas industry.

The national conservative group took out a full-page ad in Monday’s Denver Post that featured a bouquet of roses with a card that read, “Dear Colorado: Sorry about the lost jobs, the good news is your energy costs will be higher. Best, Jared.”

The role of the principal LGBT Republican organization in attacking Rep. Polis over these ballot measures invites obvious questions about how this fits with the organization's stated mission:

Some have questioned why the group is targeting Polis, the first openly gay man elected to Congress, but Angelo said the issue is not sexual orientation but sound business policy. [Pols emphasis]

So folks, you're free to accept at face value that the nation's principal Republican LGBT advocacy group is not launching cheeky paid media attacks on the first openly gay man elected to Congress, on an issue totally unrelated to their mission, because Polis is gay. But there's simply no other reason for them to be attacking Polis than the fact that he is gay, and everyone knows it. It's more than stupid for the Log Cabin Republicans to deny it, it's an insult to the intelligence of everyone who hears them deny it. Of course they are attacking Polis because they are gay, and because Polis is gay, and because in a conservative media strategy roundtable meeting, this offensive tokenism made some kind of misguided groupthink sense. At best, this campaign against Polis is a distraction from the Log Cabin Republicans' stated mission, and at worst, it makes a mockery of their mission.

If we had ever given a dime to the Log Cabin Republicans, we'd be on the phone, and we wouldn't be happy.

ICYMI: Self-Dealing Oil and Gas Consultants Paid Big Money in Colorado

Earlier this week, Denver Post reporter Mark Jaffe reported that industry interests have spent nearly $1 million on services from just one consulting firm opposing the local ballot initiatives that seek to give local government more control over oil and gas development in Colorado. Jaffe identified the firm as Pac/West Communications, an organization with some familiar faces.

Just last month, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report highlighting the oil and gas industry’s strong financial and political ties to a few conservative sportsmen groups. Among those identified in CAP’s report is Safari Club Director of Hunting Advocacy and Science-Based Conservation, Melissa Simpson. Simpson is a former employee of Pac/West, and the Safari Club is a past client of Pac/West—all trails leading back to the oil and gas industry’s deep pockets.

Tim Wigley, who currently runs the ship at Western Energy Alliance, is the former director of DC operations at Pac/West. A 2012 blog from Think Progress identified Wigley as having lobbied on behalf of a number of industry special interests. It appears that this work continues in Colorado, while benefiting his past employer.

It’s unclear how the ballot initiatives will turn out in November. But one thing seems clear. Pac/West is making some cash regardless of the outcome. Make sure to read Jaffe’s full story here

 

 

The Colorado Keystone

Webster defines keystone as "the central principle or part of a policy, system, etc., on which all else depends".  Yesterday's announcement by our President set the stage for our nation to begin the process of addressing our carbon pollution, as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2007 – and now regulated by the EPA under their authority within the Clean Air Act, (also affirmed in that same 2007 Supreme Court decision).  Obama's announcement is, in effect, "America's Keystone";  it will be the foundation upon which we determine state and federal policy regarding energy for the coming decades.  It has taken over seven years to get from the historic 2007 court decision to the 2014 proposed rules – and it will be another 15 years, best-case scenario, before we would see full implementation of the regulations. 

The 'clutching of pearls' by the right-wing spin machine aside, meeting these new standards comes at a modest, if any, cost.  In fact, if one includes in the calculation the reduced health costs of the transition, the jobs created, and in the case of rural Colorado, nearly $6 billion in new tax base, only a Coprolite would conclude that the Colorado renewable standard, the second-most aggressive in the nation, was a bad idea.

Colorado has much to be proud of in our proactive approach by the Ritter Administration to begin the transition away from coal and tackling our state's emissions profile.  We often heard Bill talk in terms of 'being stubborn stewards" and "shared sacrifices".  Under his reign our state created the second-most aggressive renewable portfolio standard in the nation; we passed in excess of 50 legislative bills that dealt with new standards, energy efficiency and sustainability.  We became know world-wide as the birthplace of the New Energy Economy and environmental leadership.

Since 2011 we have watched Boulder take on Goliath and create the foundation for a 21st-century municipal electric.  Fort Collins has implemented feed-in-tariffs within the confines of their jurisdiction.  We're fast approaching $6 billion of investments in wind farms on Colorado's eastern plains – and plans of new solar farms in the Pueblo County and the San Luis Valley. Five Front Range communities have rejected untethered oil and gas developments within their city limits, the LaPlata Rural Electric Association board of directors now has a pro-renewable energy majority.  We've begin the process to aggressively regulate fugitive methane in Colorado's gas patch. Captured methane gas is powering parts of Aspen, and a new small hydroelectric plant will deliver local power to the Delta-Montrose Rural Electric Association membership. Our rural electrics must now meet 20% of their energy needs with green energy. Vestas is considering moving its North American headquarters to the Centennial state.

We've come a long way in the past decade since the passage of Amendment 37.  We've built a foundation – projects and policy – upon the knowledge that we have an infinite amount of sunshine, wind and biomass.  We understand we don't have to settle for sacrificing our state's environment to have a robust economy.  We understand the economic opportunities in transitioning to the New Energy Economy – and the perils of the false prophets promoting a business-as-usual case for energy development.  

As Bill Gates is credited as saying, "we over-estimate what they can accomplish in a year and under-estimate what we can accomplish in a decade".  While we have only begun this long, tenuous journey of change over the past decade, it would be hard not to argue that our leadership owes a debt of gratitude to the bi-partisanship co-chairs of the 2004 Amendment 37, Mark Udall and Lola Spradley – and it would be even harder to overstate the accomplishments we have put under our belt since that historic victory.

All of this, I would argue, is our "Colorado's Keystone".  Not a pipeline – but a foundation for a  21st-century energy policy that is consistent with our western values and our conservation ethic; a foundation by which we can lead by example and buoy our national efforts to be a global leader.

What's next? Will Colorado voters make Local Control the centerpiece of this fall's election?  Will it be a proxy vote for or against those who embrace the concept? Can we construct a Renewable Thermal Standard, creating opportunities for reductions in the built environment? Perhaps we can build a virtual power plant, fueled only by energy efficiency.  Will we tackle the necessary regulatory changes to bring about a more transparent and free energy market? It's hard to say, but if history is any guide – we can all be assured the next decade will be filled with grand accomplishments while we transition to an economy powered by our clean, abundant resources.

There is nothing but lack of political will that will keep the creativity and entrepreneurship of Coloradans from entering this exciting marketplace – and providing global leadership.  That's the real 'Keystone'

Emissions Reduction Roundup: Poll Numbers, Editorial Boards, and One Silent Candidate

On Monday, President Obama and the EPA announced new proposals to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30% before the year 2030. Between Republican lawmakers and representatives from the oil, gas, and coal industries, there was much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands over the news. Here's what happened next, in no particular order…

53-35 support of carbon reduction

New Poll Shows Strong Voter Support for Reducing Emissions
The group Americans United for Change released results today from a new poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP):

Carbon emission reduction standards announced by President Obama yesterday are popular with voters across the country, and that voters have little tolerance for a Presidential candidate in 2016 who doesn’t believe that climate change is caused by human activity. Crucial independent voters, in particular, are not sympathetic to the GOP’s climate skepticism…

Voters support the 30% reduction standard in carbon pollution from existing power plants by an 18 point margin, 53/35. Independents (59/29) are particularly strong in their support for the standards…[Pols emphasis]

…Voters, and particularly independents, don’t have much tolerance for climate skeptics when it comes to the 2016 Presidential race. Only 38% of voters say they’d be willing to support a candidate who doesn’t believe global warming is caused by human activity, and by an 11 point margin they say they would be less likely to vote for such a candidate. When it comes to independents just 29% would be open to supporting a climate skeptic.

Denver Post Editorial Supports Carbon Reduction Plan
The Denver Post is supportive of the new emissions reduction plan. As the editorial board opines:

The Obama administration's plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030 from the level that existed in 2005 appears ambitious but doable. It will also allow the U.S. to reclaim a leadership role in the world in terms of reducing greenhouse gases.

And while reaching the 2030 goal will be expensive, human ingenuity will no doubt ensure that it's not as costly as the dire estimates emanating now from some critics. To emphasize what should be obvious, for example: It's not going to cripple the economy.

This last line is particularly important, because it provides a clear and succinct argument to be used whenever critics start howling about the economic devastation that will result from the new emissions rules.

No Comment from Rep. Cory Gardner on the New Rules
As Fox 31's Eli Stokols reports, one Colorado lawmaker was conspicuously quiet yesterday:

Congressman Cory Gardner, Udall’s opponent, has yet to issue a statement on the rules…

…Udall, meanwhile, is attacking Gardner as a climate-change denier, firing off a press release cataloging a slew of Gardner’s votes and statements that reflect his view that climate change isn’t human-caused, as 97 percent of scientists believe it to be.

This is not a good spot for Gardner to find himself, because he needs to figure out how to appease the coal-powered Koch Brothers without opening himself up to more attacks on an issue where he is already positioned incorrectly (in terms of reaching Colorado voters).

The Pen, The Post Office and the Two Americas

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Pen, The Post Office and and Two Americas – a simple headline, and a case for our President and our Senate Majority to do something simple themselves: a call to turn back the rhetoric of a "failed US Postal Service", empower rural communities, narrow the inequality gap amongst rural residents, and push the envelope of innovation.

An action that can be accomplished without the contribution of a single Republican member of Congress.  

In the past year my political allegiances have been strained; my political beliefs have not.  Here at home I remain befuddled by our inability to tackle the challenges with the rampant expansion of the oil and gas industry, severance tax rates and the challenges to continue our leadership on the New Energy Economy.  For those, we have a remedy: ballot initiatives.  At the federal level I  understand the challenges in Congress over tackling issues of the least amongst us with the House majority).  Conventional wisdom is that nothing that could mitigate the economic challenges we face across rural America can be addressed in Washington absent almost certain obstruction from with the House majority.  

To that end I'd offer an alternative point of view: Executive Action, or "The Pen".

Conventional wisdom is the United States Post Office, in particular our rural post offices, are doomed to extinction.  This is a manufactured crisis initiated by a lame duck Congress in 2006 with the sole intent to privatize the service, even though they are constitutionally required to preerve and promote it under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution .  It should surprise no one that their first dalliance with privatization was with a Romney/Bain entity, "Staples".   Today, absent the pre-funding requirement imposed on the Post Office by the 2006 Congress, a requirement imposed solely on one government entity, they would have registered a $1 billion profit, not a loss of $354 million.  

The myth that USPS is a money pit is simply that:  a myth.  

Like many from my generation, I grew up in a remote, rural community served by a Post Office,  zip code 80735.  Still operational; how much longer yet no one knows.  Our Postmaster, "Shorty" Wilcoxen, a war veteran and whose family were homesteaders in our community, was a valued member of our community.  His wife, our school secretary for years.  Solid, middle-class citizens in a small, rural town.

USPS was – and still is – one of the greatest "common good" services put in place by our Founding Fathers.  Like the many great social programs that emerged a century-and-a-half later through from the New Deal – projects that brought us rural electrification and federal law establishing cooperatives for farmers – there was a magic in those approaches.  They made the impossible, possible. Every community was enriched by these public investments.

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Obama Proposes New Efforts Aimed at Cleaner Air & Water

Colorado 2013 flood

What’s the problem? Our driveway ALWAYS disintegrates.

UPDATE: ProgressNow Colorado issues statement pointing to Colorado Republican candidates who are Climate Change deniers:

“In a time when Republicans in Congress are determined to sit on their hands and do nothing for the rest of the year, President Obama’s leadership on this issue is critical,” said ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Conservatives in Colorado are not only unwilling to cooperate on addressing significant environmental concerns – they refuse to even acknowledge Climate Change as a serious problem.”

According to FOX 31 Denver, the EPA estimates that reducing emissions will help prevent as many as 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children. President Obama’s Executive Order gives states until June 30, 2016, to submit statewide carbon reduction plans. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the plan will actually reduce the average electric bill in the United States by 8 percent.

“Our two leading candidates for the Republican nomination for Governor—Tom Tancredo and Bob Beauprez—have been outspoken in their belief that Climate Change is not worth their attention,” said Runyon-Harms (Beauprez has called it a “hoax,”[1] and Tancredo has said the issue is ‘bull****’[2]). “Meanwhile, Coloradans continue to experience destructive wildfires, unprecedented flooding, and severe weather patterns that are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in our state.  It doesn’t take a scientist to see the changes in Colorado and worry about long-term climate problems.” 

—–

As CNN Reports:

An Environmental Protection Agency proposal announced Monday would cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30%.

"Nationwide, by 2030, this rule would achieve CO2 emission reductions from the power sector of approximately 30 percent from CO2 emission levels in 2005," the proposed regulation says. "This goal is achievable because innovations in the production, distribution and use of electricity are already making the power sector more efficient and sustainable while maintaining an affordable, reliable and diverse energy mix."

The EPA says the regulation will also "reduce pollutants that contribute to the soot and smog that make people sick by over 25 percent." The agency projects the reductions will avoid 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.

States will have a variety of options to meet the goal, including improving energy efficiency both inside and outside plants, changing how long the plants operate each day, and increasing the amount of power derived in other ways through clean energy.

"As president, and as a parent, I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that's beyond fixing," Obama said in his weekly address Saturday.

There's nothing radical about proposing more aggressive goals for reducing carbon emissions, though we don't expect critics among Republicans and the oil & gas industry to hold their respective tongues here. Congressman Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, has long carried water oil for the oil and gas industry and been an outspoken Climate Change denier.

In the race for Governor, all four Republican candidates have been consistently in denial about Climate Change in general. As Colorado Pols first reported in March, Bob Beauprez believes that Climate Change/Global Warming is “at best a grossly overhyped issue and at worst a complete hoax foisted on most of the world.” Fellow Gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo spoke for the entire Republican Party in 2009 when he said that the GOP position is that Climate Change is "bullshit."

 

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

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

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

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

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

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Pro-Fracking Hardliners Badly Misplaying their Hand

Hardliners who are rejecting a fracking compromise might want to look more closely at the cards they hold.

Hardliners who are rejecting a fracking compromise might want to look more closely at the cards they hold.

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, you may have missed the news late Friday that supporters of "Initiative 75," one of several potential fracking-related ballot measures, have received judicial approval to begin the signature-gathering process. As the Denver Post reported:

The measure, backed by Colorado Community Rights Network, would give local governments "the power to define or eliminate the rights and powers of corporations or business entities to prevent them from interfering with (local) fundamental rights."…

…The initiative is one of 11 seeking to get on the ballot that would tighten state regulations on energy development or give more control to local governments.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is attempting — so far without success — to find consensus among energy firms, business groups and local governments for legislation that would address some of the community concerns over drilling and head off the ballot initiatives.

Supporters of any proposed ballot measure looking to find a home on the November ballot need to submit at least 86,000 petition signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State's office by August 4. There is no firm deadline for negotiations to conclude on a potential legislative agreement that could remove all contentious fracking ballot measures from the picture (any agreement would ultimately require Gov. Hickenlooper to call for a special legislative session), but the longer discussions continue, the more difficult it will be to convince all parties to halt preparations for a November campaign.

The Governor has been meeting for weeks with stakeholders representing various different perspectives on the issue, but it appears as though there are a handful of hardliners in the business community that continue to stand in the way of any potential compromise. As the Post reported in a separate story last week, "Business groups representing homebuilders, agriculture and oil and gas" have thus far rejected any effort to meet in the middle here, particularly on the topic of giving more local control to cities and counties to make decisions on setbacks and drilling locations. It's difficult to view this approach as anything more than a bluff, however, since both recent polling and local election results have made clear that voters are much more inclined to support expanding local control. You can't draw a line in the sand when the ground is rapidly shifting beneath your feet.

As we've written before in this space, any hardline approach against "local control" is curiously devoid of logic from a practical political perspective (say that three times fast). The oil and gas industry has threatened to throw millions of dollars at defeating any fracking ballot measures, though it is unclear just how much money it might actually cost them to win in November. Remember, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) spent nearly $1 million last fall in an effort to defeat four local fracking-related ballot measures (in Fort Collins, Lafayette, Boulder, and Broomfield); despite massively outspending supporters of the initiatives, COGA failed to turn the tide in any of the four campaigns. If pro-fracking voices couldn't stop local ballot measures from succeeding in an off-year election, what makes them think that they will be able to change the outcome in a statewide battle — particularly when local control supporters will have millions of dollars of their own?

As anyone who has ever played poker (or listened to Kenny Rogers) well knows, "you've got to know when to hold 'em/ know when to fold 'em." It's hard to bluff when everyone at the table knows what cards you are holding.

 

Why Colorado Matters in National Policy Making

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eight years ago I gave the commencement address for the Colorado State University – College of Agriculture Sciences graduates.  Colorado citizens had just voted to establish the first citizens-initiated portfolio standard in America, Amendment 37.  The initiative, an epic 'David v. Goliath' story that only came about after three failed attempts in the Republican-controlled state legislature in the years 2002-2004 to find a legislative remedy.  Initiated by activists in the Boulder corridor, the amendment has served to benefit urban and rural interests alike: Xcel customers have experienced a greater stability in their cost structure, rural Colorado is home to nearly $6 billion in wind developments – bringing with it a strong tax base and jobs – and the platform for the Ritter-era New Energy Economy was born.

But as I stood on that platform in Ft. Collins on that evening in December of 2005, little did I know that our recent success at the ballot box would, eight years hence, serve as a platform for the White House and our Department of Defense to accelerate a new energy future. Amendment 37 buoyed a then-nascent "25x'25" alliance – a group of agriculturally-centric leaders who saw the opportunity for rural America to both participate and lead the almost-certain energy transition.  A goal: 25% of America's energy coming from renewables by the year 2025 – a year that seemed light years away.

As a co-founder of the alliance, it became obvious to me that magnifying the Colorado success in to a national platform was a winning combination.  And Colorado stepped to the plate.  The Denver Post was the first major US newspaper to endorse our vision; the Rocky Mountain Farmer Union and Colorado Farm Bureau were the first groups amongst their national organization to give us a 'thumbs up'.  The Colorado legislature, in a bi-partisan resolution supporting the vision, lead by Senator Mark Hillman and Representative Wes McKinley, became the template for over 30 state legislatures to follow.  Colorado State University was the first land grant university in the nation to get behind us.  The Delta-Montrose Rural Electric Association was the first rural electric in America to officially endorse the cause. Tracee Bentley, a former Farm Bureau lobbyist and now Legislative Director for Governor Hickenlooper, served as our western states coordinator for state alliance development.

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Rep. Cory Gardner is Anti-Science

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Fracking Graduation, Greeley!

The Governor's office and stakeholders continue to discuss a potential legislative alternative to the fracking issue in order to avoid a handful of ballot measures that could show up this fall (more on this later). We've written before in this space that arguing for local control in fracking decisions is actually tough to oppose Hardliners who have thus far opposed any real efforts to find a legislative compromise are seriously misplaying their hand here, and images like those below certainly don't help their argument.

District 6 Stadium in Greeley is hosting two graduation ceremonies this weekend — Greeley Central High School tonight, and Northridge High School on Saturday — and we're guessing that grandma and Aunt Sally aren't going to be too pleased with the view from the stands. Anyone in Greeley who continues to support drill sites like this…well, we don't even understand what you would say in your defense. There are some locations, like the one below, that just should not be drilled.

Greeley graduation frack

District 6 Stadium in Greeley

GreeleyFrack2

Happy Fracking Graduation!