Colorado

Reports Expose Extreme Pressure Groups Masquerading as Think Tanks

Center for Media and Democracy and Progress Now Reports Show Expansive Reach Of State Policy Network

WASHINGTON – November 13 – Twelve new reports released today expose the State Policy Network (SPN), an $83 million web of right-wing “think tanks” in every state across the country. Although SPN’s member organizations claim to be nonpartisan and independent, an in-depth investigation reveals that SPN and its state affiliates are major drivers of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-backed corporate agenda in state houses nationwide, with deep ties to the Koch brothers and the national right-wing network of funders. The reports show how these groups masquerade as “think tanks,” and describe how some of them may be skirting tax laws while really orchestrating extensive lobbying and political operations to peddle their legislative agenda to state legislators, all while reporting little or no lobbying activities.

“The ‘experts’ of State Policy Network groups get quoted on TV, in the papers, or in the legislature as if they were nonpartisan, objective scholars on issues of public policy,” said Lisa Graves, Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). “But in reality, SPN is a front for corporate interests with an extreme national policy agenda tied to some of the most retrograde special interests in the country, including the billionaire Koch brothers, the Waltons, the Bradley Foundation, the Roe Foundation, and the Coors family.”

Denise Cardinal, executive director of Progress Now, added, “The bottom line is these organizations of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich are representing themselves as groups that are looking out for the best interests of everyday, working class Americans and it’s just a blatant lie. What we’re doing is trying to bring some transparency to the damaging work they’re doing on a daily basis. From policies that promote polluting the air and water to the destruction of our public education system and a tax system that benefits their rich donors, what these organizations are doing is shameful and it’s time that someone brought this to light.”

You can see the reports — a nationally-focused report written by CMD and eleven state-focused reports written by Progress Now member groups and CMD — at www.StinkTanks.org as well as detailed information documented at SourceWatch.org.

Key findings of the report include:

  • While it has become an $83 million dollar right-wing empire, SPN and most of its affiliates do not post their major donors on their websites. The identities of the donors we have discovered reveal that SPN is largely funded by global corporations — such as Reynolds American, Altria, the e-cigarette company NJOY, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, Facebook, the for-profit online education company K12 Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Foods, Express Scripts, Comcast, Time Warner, and the Koch- and Tea Party-connected DCI Group lobbying and PR firm — that stand to benefit from SPN’s destructive agenda, as well as out-of-state special interests like the billionaire Koch brothers, the Waltons, the Bradley Foundation, the Roe Foundation, and the Coors family — who are underwriting an extreme legislative agenda that undermines the traditional rights of modern Americans.
  • Although SPN’s affiliates are registered as educational nonprofits, several appear to orchestrate extensive lobbying and political operations to peddle their legislative agenda to state legislators, despite the IRS’s regulations on nonprofit political and lobbying activities.
  • SPN and its affiliates push an extreme right-wing agenda that aims to privatize education, block healthcare reform, restrict workers’ rights, roll back environmental protections, and create a tax system that benefits most those at the very top level of income.
  • SPN and many of its affiliates are some of the most active members and largest sponsors of the controversial ALEC, where special interest groups and state politicians vote behind closed doors on “model” legislation to change Americans’ rights, through ALEC’s task forces. SPN has close ties to, and works with, other national right-wing organizations like the Franklin Center and David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity.

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The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) is a non-profit investigative reporting group. Our reporting and analysis focus on exposing corporate spin and government propaganda. We publish PRWatchSourceWatch, and BanksterUSA. Our newest major investigation is available at ALECexposed.org.

We accept no funding from for-profit corporations or the government. If you would like to make a financial contribution to support our work, please click here.

Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2013/11/13-1

Eyes of the Nation on Colorado Towns’ Fracking Fight

Published on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 by Common Dreams

‘Industry across the nation is looking to see what Colorado voters are going to do.’

– Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Coloradoans picket frack-friendly Governor John Hickenlooper in Longmont, Colorado. (Photo: FreeRangeLongmont.com/ cc/ Flickr)

Coloradoans picket frack-friendly Governor John Hickenlooper in Longmont, Colorado. (Photo: FreeRangeLongmont.com/ cc/ Flickr)

In what many are calling the new “ground zero” in the national fight against fracking, the toxic gas and oil extracting process is on the ballot in four Colorado towns where citizens are taking on the heavyweights of the fossil fuel industry.

Following the example of Longmont, which last year became the first Colorado city to ban fracking, next Wednesday, voters in Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette and Fort Collins will have the opportunity to choose whether or not they support the controversial extraction method of shale oil and gas in their communities.

The Denver Business Journal provides this rundown of the four ballot measures:

  • Broomfield: Question 300 would impose a five-year prohibition on all fracking.
  • Fort Collins: Its measure would create a five-year moratorium on fracking and storage of waste products related to the oil and gas industry in town.
  • City of Boulder: 2H proposes a five-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration.
  • Lafayette: Question No. 300 would ban new oil and gas wells in town. [As well as] prohibit “depositing, storing or transporting within city limits any water, brine, chemical or by-products used in or that result from extraction of oil and gas.”

Though local ballot initiatives, these are no small-town battles. According to reports, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) has poured over $600,000 into campaigns against the moratoriums.

“The oil and gas industry is trying to intimidate voters by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy this election,” Laura Fronckiewicz, campaign manager for the pro-moratorium group Our Broomfield, told Denver Westword.

Among those industry insiders who are concerned that the success of these local initiatives could spell trouble for the future of fracking in the west, Tim Wigley, president of oil and gas trade group Western Energy Alliance, said, “I’ve really beat the drum with our members […] across the West about how dangerous a precedent these could be if they become law.”

“The whole country is looking at Colorado as ground zero.” The state, he added, “has been traditionally a big-time [energy] producer, and the industry across the nation is looking to see what Colorado voters are going to do.”

Three of the four initiatives propose a temporary ban on the process which, according to Fronckiewicz, will allow researchers more time to determine fracking’s “true effects” on residents’ health and the environment.

Colorado’s history as an energy-producing state where landowners’ mineral rights are often owned by commercial entities compound the challenges faced by these grassroots initiatives.

The City of Longmont—where last November nearly 60 percent of voters approved an amendment that prohibited fracking and the disposal of fracking waste products within city limits—is currently facing suits by both the COGA and the state.

Those suits, however, have not succeeded in deterring others from taking up their own fight against Big Oil and Gas.

“People on Colorado’s Front Range enjoy their quality of life and this industry represents an immediate threat to public health and that quality of life,” Cliff Willmeng of the activist group East Boulder County United told the Denver Post. “People see that the question of the environment is not an abstraction—it’s something we’re living through now.”

COGA turns to Boulder Weekly with latest spin

The industry feebly attempts to remove egg on its collective face from flood coverage.

Editor’s Note:  The following appeared in the Boulder Weekly in response to a letter to the editor by Doug Flanders of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association  Flanders is the Director of Policy and External Affairs for COGA.  In layman’s lingo, he’s the go-to guy when COGA needs someone to trash those in Colorado who seek to protect their communities from the known dangers of fracking for oil and gas to health and the environment .


Flared gasOh, Mr. Flanders! I can’t figure out whether you’re wringing your hands in distress and bewilderment or in delight at being able, yet again, to take pot shots at the environment.  Yes, I wrote environment. I did not mean “environmentalists.”

I know a thing or two about the oil and gas industry. Once upon a time I had an insider’s look at it. So before you drip away in self-praise at your community-assistance motives, let me point out that your industry has a 40-plus-year history of spending millions upon millions upon millions of dollars to repair a badly bruised and battered public image. (Remember the 1970s?)

While those who are benefiting from the “assistance” that your mega-billion-dollar companies have contributed towards relief, auditors will find those write-offs buried in your accounting under a derivative of public relations.

You know that your alleged compassion and generosity goes well beyond helping your fellow man and his environment. If there were such genuine caring, your industry wouldn’t be creating the environmental chaos that you inflict each and every day.

Methane released into the air that is damaging to human health as ozone and to the climate even more than carbon dioxide. Chemicals thrust into the ground and brought back up that are causing serious illness to children and adults alike. Total disregard of communities’ rights to self-determination. Perhaps we should do an amputation of your industry’s collective middle finger. Would that it were just that easy.

Your partner-in-crime Tisha Schuller looked to be agonizing when interviewed during television reporting on oil spills, tanks tipped and overturned, berms that allegedly contain contamination washed into farmland and waterways in the aftermath of the flooding. While Ms. Schuller was telling the viewing audience “Don’t worry, be happy,” the cut-aways were showing such images. Now really, Mr. Flanders, do you expect us to believe her — and you?

So as a reaction to your public relations disaster from the flood, you pulled out your Rapid Response Team to come up with an approach to remedy the bruises from falling on your faces. Those dastardly ordinary citizens — moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, doctors, nurses, neighbors, friends — all those people who dare to point out the obvious and according to you and your mouthpieces are using a disaster to drive home a reality that you don’t want in public consciousness. Your industry causes damage — to people’s health and safety, to the environment, to the climate, to the air we breathe and water we drink and use to grow our food. And you will continue to cause that damage until you are stopped. We plan to do just that. And we will do it with truth, justice and the truly American way — not with lie on top of lie on top of lie, not by calling in chits with elected officials, not with lawsuits where the only intent is to deprive people and communities of their rights and well-being. You are on the wrong side of history, Mr. Flanders of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the wrong side.

 

Elect candidates who stand against fracking

Cast your ballot for those who will best protect Longmont's right to local control.

Vote, checked with red pencilAs we approach municipal elections Nov. 5, I believe it is critical that voters understand where each candidate stands regarding two lawsuits the city is currently defending. Although each lawsuit pertains to the community’s ability to regulate oil and gas operations within its corporate boundaries, each resulted from a separate approach to address foundational principles of local government in Colorado.

Home rule, citizen initiative and local control are key concepts found in the Colorado Constitution, the Longmont city charter and in years of practical application. The reason these basic principles of government are so critical is simple. When properly applied, they put key decisions about local communities in the hands of the people most heavily impacted, local residents. Under our charter, the citizens elect the City Council, which has the obligation to adopt appropriate policies to protect our health, environment and quality of life. This includes appropriate regulations for all land uses.

If and when residents do not believe the elected city council members are appropriately protecting the community, citizens have the right to initiate appropriate actions. This is what happened in 2012 regarding oil and gas operations. The ability to adopt appropriate land use regulations is a basic right of home rule cities in Colorado and a fundamental expectation of citizens. As you will see below, the primary opponents of local oil and gas land use regulations in Longmont are Gov. John Hickenlooper and the multi-billion dollar oil and gas industry. That is why city council elections this year are absolutely critical.

The first lawsuit is an attempt to thwart the city council’s right to reasonably regulate land uses in Longmont. It was filed by Gov. Hickenlooper via his industry-dominated Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). The oil and gas industry quickly joined the governor’s legal action so that it could throw its deep pockets of cash into the fight to have the state, not the city council, regulate oil and gas operations within Longmont.

The governor felt compelled to take legal action against our community because a majority of the Longmont City Council dared to enact land use regulations that prohibit oil/gas operations, including hydraulic fracturing, within residential neighborhoods and requires these operations to be at least 750 feet from schools, hospitals and day care centers. Since the governor finds these rather timid Longmont regulations to be too restrictive of the heavy oil and gas industry, it verifies how little protection he believes our citizens deserve.

As of today, the city is vigorously defending its home rule rights to reasonably regulate the heavy industrial activities associated with oil and gas operations. However, a future city council could stop defending this lawsuit and capitulate to the governor and the industry. At least one candidate, mayoral challenger Bryan Baum, has publicly stated that he is in favor of settling this lawsuit. If you believe in local control, you need to know where the other candidates stand.

The second lawsuit stems from 2012, when a group of Longmont residents became convinced that a majority of the elected city council was not adequately protecting the community from the impacts of oil and gas operations. The citizens initiated a city charter amendment that prohibits fracking operations within the city boundaries. Approximately 60 percent of the voters agreed with the amendment last November and it is now a part of the city charter. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) promptly filed legal action challenging Longmont’s city charter. The governor quickly joined forces with the industry.

I hope you see the pattern of state government and industry joining forces to attack local control. The opponents of local control hope that the combination of the power of state government and the deep pockets of a politically connected industry will intimidate small communities and citizens. They think bullying local government serves their interests. It will not work in Longmont if we elect the right city council members.

Both of these lawsuits address important local control issues; therefore, they must both be vigorously defended. The one addresses the powers of a home rule city as provided for in the Colorado constitution. The other defends the right of citizens to initiate charter amendments or legislation when their elected representatives fail to act appropriately. These rights and powers of our local community are in the hands of the next city council. I encourage each voter to understand the candidates’ position and cast your ballot for the ones who will best protect our community.

Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

 

Baum’s Bullying Back Again

faces-of-baumBoorish bullying is back again, this time in Longmont’s election campaign, and the sordid tactics are compliments of Bryan Baum and his cohorts.

This week Longmont voters are receiving calls from an outfit called Public Appeal (206-397-1100) which apparently has been authorized by Baum et al to do a “push poll” on local races. You may try to call their number if you wish, but I’ve never gotten an answer.

I got their call on Monday, October, 14. When the computer-generated voice found out I was supporting the reelection of Mayor Dennis Coombs, the next question was “would it matter to you if you knew that he votes on city issues to benefit his own business?” The next question was “would it matter to you if you knew his actions could cost every Longmont household $10,000 because of lawsuits?” That’s when I hung up. They offered no data to support the misrepresentations in their questions, which simply contain scandalous innuendoes designed to sully the reputation of a good man. It’s a time-honored technique of desperate, and despicable, campaigners.

It is disheartening to see this kind of squalid campaigning brought to Longmont elections, especially against a decent man who has done a fine job as Mayor, and who is running a positive campaign for reelection. He has brought the City Council, and the city, together with his expertise, competence, and congeniality, and he deserves to be reelected.

Mayor Coombs has returned civility to public discourse. The city’s professional staff members do not have to fear being bullied or harassed by the Mayor as they did back in the Baum days. Residents who wish to appear before the Council to share their opinions on issues don’t have to worry about it either. That’s a welcome change and one I want to see continued.

Mayor Coombs has brought back inclusiveness, conciliation, and an open mind to civic discussions. Hang up on the pushing pollsters, and join me in voting to keep Mayor Coombs working for all of us in Longmont.

Finding homes is the next difficult task

Photo by M. Douglas Wray

The emergency’s over, now comes the really hard part.

It has been inspiring that so many nonprofits, churches, individuals and city/county staff and departments stepped up to help flood victims. The real challenges come ahead of us when funds run low and most residents return to normal life.

Normal life is not possible in the immediate future for many, and the solutions to their problems are not going to be easy. Housing has been a challenging issue before the flood and is now a huge problem. Finding a home to rent is proving difficult for those who have the financial resources. For low-income families, it is an almost unimaginable challenge — a challenge made worse by the continuing disparity in income and wealth and widespread underpayment of wages.

Maybe not a great solution, but what about the infamous FEMA trailers that we heard about after Katrina?

The city is looking at buying the property where the Royal Trailer Park was located. We certainly do not want to place low-income or any families in harm’s way. Trailer parks have been an option that has worked for many. Might the city consider trading some open space property for the Royal Trailer Park property?

Are the large chain hotels/motels willing to provide some free rooms for several months?

Adding to the problem is the shutdown of the government, which will reduce incomes and purchasing power of some of our residents and reduce sales tax collections as well as business at most stores. The various types of help that Congressional and Senate offices provide will not be available. It appears that much-needed work on roads conducted by National Guard members might not paid for by the federal government.

One lesson from the flood is that we do need to support the housing and human services nonprofits.

Gardner Votes Show No Compassion

Cory Gardner, no compassion.

Cory Gardner, no compassion.

In his letter of 9/27, Mr. James Langley accused me of shamelessly distorting the facts on Cory Gardner’s vote on the Food Stamp Act. He then went on to explain the difference between cuts and reduction of an increase which he said Cory did, the basis for my ‘distortion.’ The bottom line is that $4 billion per year, $40 billion total, would keep 3.8 million poor people, (children, veterans, seniors) from getting a very generous $4.64 per day for their groceries. Maybe they would buy Big Macs or Starbucks instead of oatmeal or ramen noodles.

What Mr. Langley failed to mention was that a big reason for the increased food stamp need was that the Wall Street Jackals had driven the country to its knees. He also failed to mention that a Senate passed Jobs bill that the CBO had graded as creating 1.6 million good paying jobs (which would have further reduced the need for food stamps) was in the House. Cory and his Republican buddies refused to look at it let alone pass it.

Cory has voted for the 43rd and 44th time to deny health insurance to millions of people who desperately need it. His last votes would also be votes to shutter the government as Obama will not be blackmailed into killing the law. Of course Cory will have his plush health plan and his $174,000 salary regardless of what happens to other people, including 40,000 Coloradans. The federal government is Colorado’s largest employer.

Cory is to be commended for his efforts to obtain federal help for Colorado flood relief even as he successfully shuttered the government. Too bad he voted to deny help for Hurricane Sandy, the Moore, Oklahoma tornado and the Texas fertilizer plant explosion though.

Give ‘im hell, Grandma, Grandpa!

Colorado Grandparents Tell Governor Not to Frack Their Grandchildren’s Future

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, Sept. 9, 2013

Contact: Russell Mendell, 802-318-1135

Sam Schabacker, 720-295-1036

Colorado Grandparents Tell Governor Not to Frack
Their Grandchildren’s Future

Broomfield, Colo.—Today, concerned grandparents from across Colorado will deliver a letter to tell Governor Hickenlooper and other governors from across the country to say no to fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and yes to a renewable energy future in celebration of National Grandparents’ Day. The delivery is taking place before Governor Hickenlooper’s keynote address to the Western Governor’s Association Policy Forum on Shale Energy Development in Broomfield.

These grandparents will be voicing their concerns over the risks fracking, drilling and related activities pose to all Coloradans health, air, water, land, property values and their special concerns for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  They are also demanding that Governor Hickenlooper end his continued use of lawsuits to bully the people of Colorado to accept fracking next to their homes and schools.

“Yesterday I celebrated National Grandparents’ Day with my two grandchildren in Lafayette,” said Merrily Mazza, a retired corporate executive and current member of East Boulder County United. “Today, I’m here to tell Governor Hickenlooper to stop trying to force fracking next to our homes and schools with lawsuits.  My grandchildren deserve a safe, healthy future in Colorado.”

Grandparents representing the five communities (Broomfield, Fort Collins, Loveland, Lafayette and Boulder) who will be voting to protect themselves from fracking this November will be participating in the letter delivery, as well as grandparents from Longmont, who’s community is currently facing two lawsuits from Governor Hickenlooper in order to force fracking next to homes and schools in their city.  Despite gathering thousands of signatures to exercise their right to vote in each of these communities, Governor Hickenlooper has stated he will sue any community that protects themselves from fracking and has not spoken out against the attempts of the oil and gas industry to undermine Coloradans right to vote on fracking in these communities.

“Endangering the health of our grandchildren by contaminating air and water is unacceptable.  We want to work to protect our communities from this dangerous practice.  We are appalled by the lack of leadership in our state government,” said Joan Stern a grandmother with Our Broomfield.

The Western Governor’s Association Policy Forum on Shale Energy Development does not include one voice from residents who have been directly impacted by fracking or have been sued by either Governor Hickenlooper or the industry for exercising their democratic right to vote.  Instead, the Forum appears designed to coach governors and their staffs on how to deflect community concern effectively and use industry messaging to shut out any voices critical of fracking, drilling, wastewater disposal and its associated activities.

“This forum provides yet another disturbing example of how Governor Hickenlooper is the oil and gas industry’s leading cheerleader for fracking while he ignores the people who voted him into office in the first place,” said Kaye Fissinger, a great-grandparent, leading member of Our Longmont and a representative of Protect Our Colorado, the state coalition.

The organizations participating in today’s delivery are: Our Broomfield, Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, East Boulder County United, Protect Our Loveland, Frack Free Colorado, Our Longmont and Food & Water Watch.

Oil & Gas Industry: Anti-democracy and Anti-American

COGA seeks to deprive Lafayette community of opportunity to vote.

Last week the city of Lafayette received a clear glimpse of the true nature of the oil and gas industry. Within a 24-hour period of time we saw a Halliburton employee, backed by a Colorado Oil and Gas Association law firm file an effort to remove a community’s democratic voice on our future.

Vote plus flagCOGA attempted to strip Lafayette from our right to determine if our community would become a gas field by removing the Lafayette Community Rights Act to Ban Fracking from our November ballot. The Lafayette city clerk and city attorney ruled against the industry and with relevant law and our community. The effort to take the vote away was defeated.

Not skipping a breath, the industry attempted to create fear in the community with the impossible and unfounded claim that voting to ban gas and oil drilling within Lafayette city limits would mean that natural gas would be cut off to people’s homes. This would be similar to saying that if we don’t refine gasoline in Lafayette, we cannot fill up our cars. It should have been clearly reported that the Community Rights Act addresses extraction, and has no provisions at all about natural gas as a product.

If the industry is treating our community is this way before the first drill even hits the ground, imagine how we would be handled once they have established a real foothold in Lafayette.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s full board has 39 members. These 39 individuals are attempting to determine how life for Lafayette’s 25,733 citizens looks for decades to come. This is the world according to the oil and gas industry, which cannot tolerate a democratic voice to be present. And so if fracking cannot coexist with a community voice, clearly one of these has to go.

Preserve Lafayette and our community rights. Vote for the Lafayette Community Rights Act to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing.

2013 Colorado Legislature: on the right track with successes

Colorado Capitol dome. Photo by Charles Hanson.

Colorado Capitol dome. Photo by Charles Hanson.

While our national political leaders continue to be embroiled in gridlock at virtually every turn, our state legislators accomplished a great deal this past session. Although the bulk of the political media coverage has been on fringe issues (guns and rural Colorado), lawmakers were focused on jobs, schools, child welfare, voter and civil rights, immigration and the environment. Colorado is a better place to live, learn, love, work and raise children because of the 2013 legislative session.

Here are just 10 of dozens of good bills Democratic majorities in both houses achieved in 120 days:

  1. The ASSET Bill. Colorado’s undocumented students who graduate from high schools will now pay the same in-state college tuition rate as their peers. People with college degrees break the poverty cycle, help strengthen our economy, vote, contribute more to the tax base and are less likely to be in the corrections system.
  2. Making voting easier by sending all voters mail-in ballots. This bill will save counties $4.9 million over the next two years by making elections more efficient.
  3. Legalized civil unions, allowing thousands of committed same-sex couples to have critical legal protections and responsibilities. By recognizing civil unions, Colorado will see its revenue grow by nearly $5 million over the next three years.
  4. Increased tax credits to struggling families to help with medical and child care expenses. The benefits of this bill are self-explanatory.
  5. Limiting high-capacity magazines from 30 to 15 rounds and requiring universal background checks for gun sales. Legally purchased high-capacity magazines were used in both the Aurora Theater and Newtown school shootings. Universal background checks will make every Colorado resident safer.
  6. Reforming the way Colorado contracts business. In 2010-2011 alone, Colorado signed contracts with out-of-state vendors in the amount of $794 million. This bill brings our tax dollars back to our state while focusing on wages and benefits for workers as important considerations.
  7. The Colorado Clean Renewable Energy Bill will create good-paying jobs in rural areas while providing new sources of clean wind and solar energy.
  8. Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s training and licenses. This law makes Colorado fairer and safer. It reduces our insurance rates because of fewer uninsured motorists and also saves public resources in court time for driving without a license or insurance.
  9. Creating sex ed programs in the schools that are medically accurate and provide age-appropriate information on birth control, abstinence, healthy relationships and disease prevention. This bill will reduce teen child bearing in Colorado, which costs taxpayers and society dearly.
  10. Colorado’s 16- and 17-year-olds can now preregister to vote when getting their driver’s licenses. This good-for-democracy bill will increase civic responsibilities/participation, reduce voter registration errors and save on form processing.

Good things are happening in Colorado thanks to our state legislators. In and around Longmont, this includes Reps. Jonathan Singer and Mike Foote and Sens. Matt Jones and Rollie Heath. We elect people to lead and get stuff done. Our current slate of Colorado legislators is doing just that.

Our Broomfield Protests Ballot Title

Blatant violation of state law by Broomfield City Council

For Immediate Release
August16, 2013
OurBroomfield: http://ourbroomfield.org/

Contact: Laura Fronckiewicz, laurafronckiewicz@gmail.com

Our Broomfield Protests City’s Title for Fracking Moratorium Ballot Initiative

City’s Ballot Title Violates State Law, Does Bidding of Polluting Fracking Industry, Undermines Democratic Process

Broomfield,CO — Today, Our Broomfield, which collected 3,000 signatures to place a 5-year moratorium on fracking on the November ballot, filed an official protest of the City’s wording of the ballot initiative that will appear on the November ballot.  The wording was adopted by the City Council on Tuesday August 13th and violates state law as well as the intent of the petition circulated by Our Broomfield.  This is the language proposed by Our Broomfield:

“Shall Broomfield’s Home Rule Charter be amended for five years so as to prohibit the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract oil, gas, or other hydrocarbons within the City and County of Broomfield and to prohibit the disposal or open pit storage of solid or liquid wastes created in connection with the hydraulic fracturing process in order to protect property,property values, public safety, welfare and the environment?”

 This is the language the Council adopted:

“Shall Broomfield’s Home Rule Charter be amended to prohibit the owners of property rights in oil and gas minerals from extracting their property through the use of hydraulic fracturing methods and impose additional restrictions on wastewater storage and disposal methods than existing state regulations for the next five years to address concerns about the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing?”

Our Broomfield contends that the City Council manipulated the language for political purposes in order to persuade voters to not vote for the amendment,also violating State Law under the Colorado Municipal Home Rule Act of 1971.

“We feel that the Title language agreed to by the Broomfield City Council in their 5-4 vote is prejudicial to the outcome and does not correctly and fairly express the true intent and meaning of the ballot measure. The majority vote of the City Council is attempting to undermine the local democratic process – we feel this violates the ballot initiative process as well as state law,” said Laura Fronckiewicz of Our Broomfield.

“We presented the City with an Amendment with the required signatures and in good faith expected that the Ballot Title would accurately represent the proposed Amendment.  The words “public safety and welfare,” which are clearly and expressly stated as being central to the intent, have been removed from the Title altogether.”

“The City Council must respect the will of the people and not be subverted by this billion-dollar industry,”Fronckiewicz said.

The protest, filed by the University of Denver Law Clinic on behalf of Our Broomfield, is posted here:

Broomfield submits 3000+ signatures for fracking moratorium

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Broomfield County Residents to Submit 3000+ Signatures to add Fracking Moratorium to November 2013 Ballot

BROOMFIELD, Colorado (August 2, 2013) – Our Broomfield will conclude its petition and signature drive on Friday, August 2nd, and submit signatures in support of a City Charter Amendment to place a 5-year moratorium on Oil and Gas Extraction on the November 2013 ballot. The ballot initiative will give Broomfield voters the freedom to wait for the results of ongoing research on the effects of fracking on health, safety and property value.

Over the last month, more than 3,350 Broomfield voters signed the ballot initiative petition— over 1,000 more than the 2,082 required signatures to place a charter amendment on the ballot. The Charter Amendment will be put to a direct vote by the community, allowing citizens to decide for themselves if they want to proceed with allowing heavy industry in our neighborhoods and near our schools prior to a full examination from independent sources on the health effects of fracking.

Within just 4 months of organizing, the group has been met with encouragement from the community and genuine appreciation from residents who were not aware how quickly oil and gas extraction was proceeding in Broomfield.  Petition volunteers have reported many instances of residents thanking them for taking the time to work on this important issue and bringing it to the voters of Broomfield. “By going door to door, I was able to talk to numerous Broomfield residents.  There were so many residents who were surprised to hear that this issue was going on in Broomfield.  I had people giving me their business cards because they were in agreement that the process known as fracking shouldn’t be happening near schools and residential areas.  They wanted to help.  We believe this is a cause worth fighting for.  Not just for ourselves, but for our children and future generations,” said Our Broomfield volunteer, resident, and mother of three, Meghan Mariner.

Said another Our Broomfield organizer, resident and mother of two, Jennie Markarian, “It is amazing what can happen when concerned citizens stand up for their basic human rights. Citizens with jobs, children, and busy day-to -day lives gave up their time, and in many cases their own money to raise awareness and collect signatures to get this issue on the ballot. We have nothing to gain but the truth, and for so many of us, the truth is invaluable. I feel honored to have met some of the wonderful people who helped make this happen for Broomfield.”

Our Broomfield will now begin the campaign to educate our community further on the potential dangers of oil and gas extraction, which include water and air contamination, health impacts and depreciation of property values. Broomfield resident and mother of two, Jackie Houle, adds “I have met so many thoughtful and educated people during the past few months. The facts speak for themselves and the anecdotal evidence gives us pause… Which is why taking a time out on fracking in our heavily populated town is paramount to ensure the health, safety, and environment for Broomfield, neighboring communities, and the citizens of the Front Range.”

“I recently saw a video where Governor Hickenlooper was quoted as saying ‘Oil and gas is an industrial process that none of us want in our backyards.’ As a Broomfield mother I agree with the Governor – none of us want to see the dangerous process of fracking next to our homes and schools,” said AnnMarie Clearly, Broomfield resident and mother of two.

“Our Broomfield sees the effort to protect the people’s health from the dangers offracking for oil and gas as part of the larger movement throughout Colorado,” said Laura Fronckiewicz, who is expecting her second child any day.  “We support the initiatives in Lafayette, Loveland, Boulder and Fort Collins to assert public health and safety as the highest community objective.”

Contact: Laura Fronckiewicz, 312-533-0525, Jennie Markarian, 805-587-5282, Nate Troup, 314-330-4467

ourbroomfield@gmail.com

 

Lawsuit Challenges Oil Shale, Tar Sands on Public Lands in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2013
5:18 PM

CONTACT: Center for Biological Diversity
Taylor McKinnon, Grand Canyon Trust, (801) 300-2414
John Weisheit, Living Rivers, (435) 259-1063
David Garbett, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, (801) 486-3161
Bill Snape, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 536-9351
Matt Sandler, Rocky Mountain Wild, (303) 546-0214
Virginia Cramer, Sierra Club, (804) 225-9113 x 102

 

Lawsuit Challenges 800,000-acre Oil Shale, Tar Sands Plan Across Public Lands in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming

DENVER, Colo. – July 26 – A coalition of seven conservation groups sued the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday afternoon in federal district court in Colorado for allocating more than 800,000 acres of federal public land to climate-warming oil shale and tar sands development without undertaking formal consultation to protect endangered species.

The lands due to be mined are in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming within the Green River Formation, which the U.S. Geological Survey states contains between 353 billion and 1.146 trillion barrels of oil with “high potential for development,” — in fact, so high it holds 2 to 7 times as much as Alberta’s 170 billion barrels targeted by the Keystone XL pipeline.

“Vast mining, carbon emissions and water use will only worsen climate disruption and Colorado River drying,” said Taylor McKinnon, director of energy with the Grand Canyon Trust. “This plan opens the door to that kind of development, and it does so while ignoring the plight of the creatures most vulnerable to its many impacts.”

“This citizen intervention is necessary because the Department of Interior is sending mixed messages to the public. On one day, the administration issues a statement that the Colorado River’s critical water supply will be protected for people and habitat, and then on another day they announce the most carbon intensive mining practice on the planet can move forward,” said John Weisheit, conservation director with Living Rivers. “The two programs are not mutually beneficial. Interior has to protect the Colorado River, there is no other choice.”

In March the BLM amended 10 resource-management plans, making 687,600 acres available for oil shale leasing and 132,100 acres available for tar sands leasing. The agency refused to conduct formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered species, as required by the Endangered Species Act, despite acknowledging likely impacts to those species.

“The Endangered Species Act requires agencies to consult with the experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service when they know listed species will be impacted,” said Matt Sandler, a staff attorney at Rocky Mountain Wild. “BLM has skipped this step, which will push these species closer to extinction.”

Mining for oil shale and tar sands would industrialize backcountry and destroy habitat, pollute and deplete water, and emit greenhouse gases. The allocated lands encompass habitat for several threatened and endangered species, including Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, razorback sucker, Mexican spotted owl and many other threatened and endangered species.

“Our public lands should be managed to protect our air, water and wildlife, not auctioned off for dirty and destructive fossil fuel development that will push us ever closer to climate disaster,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity.

CBD lawsuit BLM 4-state map

Thursday’s lawsuit comes as atmospheric CO2 concentrations approach 400 parts per million, a milestone in human history. Making fuel from oil shale and tar sands is an energy-intensive process of mining, heating, chemical treatment and refining. Its greenhouse gas emissions would far exceed that of conventional oil. For example, emissions from Alberta’s tar sands development exceed that of conventional oil by several times.

“The BLM should be managing these wild areas for the rich wildlife diversity and recreational opportunities they provide,” said Dan Chu, director of the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign, “not for dirty fuels development on a giant scale.”

The groups filing today’s lawsuit are Grand Canyon Trust, Living Rivers, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Rocky Mountain Wild, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club. Many of the same groups on Monday challenged a new oil refinery in Green River, Utah, that could process fuels derived from oil shale and tar sands mined in lands subject to this lawsuit.

To download a copy of Thursday’s lawsuit, click here.

To download maps of the refinery and state and federal leasable oil shale and tar sands land, click here (high resolution [6.7 MB] or low resolution [1.7 MB]) (for media use).

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature – to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

Governments turned vicious

728931_35025540-have-a-doubt

Really? REALLY?

The Coloradoan published an article on July 16, 2013, that contains some of the most offensive attacks on Colorado citizens that officials of government have leveled – at least in recent history.  The article’s title gives you more than a hint at what’s in store:  “Energy summit speakers: Fracking critics scaring the public, driving up home heating costs.

Critics are “scaring the public!” Not on your life. But with language like this, certain elected officials and appointed charlatans certainly are.

It’s no surprise that Barbara Kirkmeyer, Weld County Commissioner, would level the kinds of charges at citizens who seek to protect their health and safety and the health and safety of their families, friends and communities. The evidence of toxicity is mounting daily and it will only grow more certain.

“Fracking detractors are trying to ‘scare the crap out of everybody with the wrong facts and making things up,’ said Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, who was moderating the discussion between Lepore and Anadarko regulatory affairs manager Brad Miller,” reported The Coloradoan.

No, Commissioner Kirkmeyer, the only people who are putting the public in harm’s way and “scaring” them are the likes of YOU and those with whom you associate.

Readers, go back up a paragraph and re-read.  So Kirkmeyer was moderating (that’s a laugh) Lepore and Anadarko.  What’s to moderate?  There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the three of them.

Let’s go up the power ladder to the state government.  Who’s scarin’ who, Mr. Lepore? Lepore is director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and he takes his ideological marching orders only one degree removed from Colorado Governor Hickenlooper.  Hick’s not called Frackenlooper for nuthin’.

Lepore must have had a wild hare up his backside at the “Summit.”  Here’s what The Coloradoan had to say about Lepore’s ridiculous accusation:

“Colorado’s chief oil and gas regulator panned critics of fracking and local public officials trying to regulate the energy industry on Tuesday, saying they’re working hard to drive up the cost of home heating and cooling.”

“Working hard to drive upt the cost of home heating and cooling.”  (Hmmm – maybe that wild hare was coming from rather than…)

Mr. Lepore, have you looked at the rush of applications for liquid natural gas terminals so that the industry can sell to the highest bidder overseas?  I gather you have no problems with fracked gas penetrating the lungs of young and old and all in between.

But lest I give the impression that ALL elected officials (with their pals in the oil and gas industry) are out to trash Coloradans, I want to give a shout out to Councilman Gerry Horak of Fort Collins and Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierrez, neither of whom were given a spot on the panel.  Horak told the paper:

I hear the opposition demonized,” he said, adding that demonizing concerned citizens is the easiest thing the industry can do to make themselves look foolish.

(You got that right, Mr. Horak!)  And Guitierrez pointed out the obvious, that the “summit’s” fracking discussion was “unbalanced in favor of the industry.”

But there’s one more whopper in the newspaper’s story.  Sit down for this one.  When asked if anything was done to propagandize our kids (excuse me, I think they erroneously said “educate”) in order to improve the industry’s public relations, Anadarko’s Miller said, “We have to educate the youth and start there, and we also have to educate the general public as well,” he said. “Both of those programs need to start now. The industry is starting that.

Kirkmeyer talked about “crap” and she was partially right, because it looks like everything that was said at their arrogantly named “summit” was just that — CRAP

I encourage every Coloradoan who reads this post and the article to spread the word widely.  The public needs to know.  And by the way, Colorado school districts, keep the industry out of the classroom no matter how much money they offer to buy your loyalty and dependence.

So You Say You Want a Revolution?

Social Change Workshop is Modeled After Jesus’ Ministry

First United Methodist Church of Boulder (FUMC) is thrilled to welcome their newest Theologian-in-Residence, Dr. Dorothee Benz, who is offering two FREE workshops to the public on making social change on Saturday July 20th and 27th. The workshops, titled, Power, Protest, Progress: How to Change the World in Two Easy Lessons explore the characteristics of successful social movements and analyze what gives ordinary people the power to make real change happen. “Jesus was all about making social change happen, but following him can be a little daunting – few of us can walk on water or feed 5,000 people. In this class we’ll take a fresh look at Jesus’ ministry and uncover ways in which his most humble acts, like talking to the woman at the well or touching lepers, were more transformative than the flashy fish type miracles and how we can be agents of change in our world today in the same ways”, explains Benz.

Participants will gain an understanding of power based on the writings of scholar-activist Frances Fox Piven, and will draw on examples from the labor movement, the civil rights movement and the Bible.

Reverend Joe Agne, pastor at FUMC says “Benz will help all of us who want to move beyond charity to creating social change – she teaches ways that work. Persons working on fracking, hunger, racism, marriage equality, gun control etc. will find these workshops to be extremely beneficial to their work.”

Dr. Benz is a lifelong activist and organizer. Professionally, she has 25 years experience in social justice communications, and her work as a labor journalist has won numerous awards. She is currently the director of communications at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Benz has a Ph.D. from the City University of New York and her scholarly expertise is in social movements. She is a founding member and chair of Methodists in New Directions (MIND) and one of the architects of the current strategy to transcend the crisis caused by the United Methodist Church’s discrimination against LGBTQ people by organizing networks of clergy and laity to extend their ministries to all couples, gay and straight, on an equal basis in defiance of the rules. She is the winner of the 2012 Gwen and C. Dale White Award from the NY Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action.

Visit fumcboulder.org for more details.