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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

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Drilling Rules – Ed Quillen Nails It

I have enjoyed reading Ed Quillen’s columns in the Sunday Denver Post for some time. As such, I should link to his material more often. So here’s my first public shout out: keep up the good work, Ed!

Ed’s piece yesterday dealt with the rules under consideration by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The oil and gas industry, as Ed notes, has bought full page newspaper ads, as well as tv and radio ads. All are intentionally misleading. All are emotionally charged. Ed’s bottom line: if the extractive industry can’t follow simple rules set up to protect Colorado’s property (wildlife and water), the industry should do business elsewhere. One critical fact Ed brings up is that the oil and natural gas drilling industry wants to do on our lands will send those resources to out of state markets where they can be sold for a higher profit. And Coloradans are expected to trip over themselves to make it happen.

Go read his piece. It’s well worth your time.



Jared Polis Nears Act Blue Goal – Help Out Today!

Jared Polis has 85 supporters on his Act Blue 1of100 page. His goal is 100 contributors by midnight tonight. Head over there and donate whatever you can. Jared will be a solid progressive voice in a Congress that desperately needs it. He’s strong on education, has a policy proposal on the Iraq occupation, and supports a new path for renewable energy development.


Update: Jared’s original goal of 100 has been reached! A new goal of 135 supporters has been issued. Go lend a hand, regardless of size!

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Random Hits 6/29/08

Continued politics over the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission‘s proposed rule changes: foes are striking as extreme a position as possible so the new rules won’t go into effect. More than that, they’re working very hard to make sure the same kind of rules don’t get implemented elsewhere, which seems likely to happen. At some point, more citizens are going to stand up for their localities long-term health, including environmental concerns. If these rules pass now, they stand a good chance of spreading. Additional rules might even be in store in the future. The longer oil and gas interests delay, the longer they can operate under older, less restrictive rules.


Mark Udall maintains his moderate advantage over Bob Schaffer in another poll, this one from Quinnipiac University. Similar to the Rasmussen poll I discussed earlier this week, the Q-poll has Udall 48 – Schaffer 38, a 10-point spread. Oh, the independent numbers are mighty interesting: Udall 54 – Schaffer 27. Bob’s going to have to work much harder this year due to voters’ well documented shift from Republican to “Independent” and from “Independent” to Democrat.


Here’s Governor Ritter’s planned activity for Tuesday:

Gov. Ritter will take part in a dedication ceremony for a new solar array at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. The 150-kilowatt system sits on a half-acre of ranchland owned by the high school and is the largest solar electric installation in Western Colorado. It will power the school’s science building, and excess energy will be fed onto the town of Carbondale’s power grid. The voter-approved project is a joint venture that also includes the Aspen Ski Co., Community Office for Resource Efficiency, Town of Carbondale and Xcel Energy.

I’ve read plenty of disparaging comments on newspaper blogs that are trying to push the meme that Gov. Ritter’s New Energy Economy isn’t actually doing anything. This is but one example that demonstrates those comments are based solely on ideology and not on fact.


The U.S. Drought Monitor has identified the panhandle of Oklahoma as being in “Exceptional Drought”, its most severe category.  Neighboring areas in Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Texas are classified as “Extreme Drought”.  Locals who were around for the Dust Bowl in the 1930s say its drier now than it was then.  The record speaks for itself: with less than an inch and a half of rain so far this year, the area is drier than the Sahara Desert.  Under a new climatic regime, severe droughts are just as likely as severe flooding.  Will conditions convince Oklahomans to rid themselves of the virulently anti-science Sen. Tom Coburn when his term is up?

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Rocky Mountain News Opinion Page Defends Bob Schaffer & Big Oil

The right-wing opinion writers that make up the Rocky Mountain “News” (RMN) editorial board came to the defense of Bob “Big Oil” Schaffer’s support of the fossil fuel industry in today’s piece. Entitled, “Buying into the Big Oil smear”, the editorialists manufacture plenty of crocodile tears for the poor voters who buy into misleading attack ads.

They cite Republican political consultant Katy Atkinson’s oh-so-sincere concern over the League of Conservation Voters “negative” ad linking Bob Schaffer with Big Oil. The next item mentioned in the column is closer to her true concern with Schaffer’s 2008 campaign, I think:

When negative ads are running without anything contradicting them, and when there are no negatives against Udall . . . I wouldn’t have been surprised if Udall’s lead was 15.

As long as Republicans run negative ads in return, everything would be fine, it appears. I didn’t hear Katy or any other Republicans whining about the negative ads their party and related 527s ran in 2006 or 2004 or … anytime recently. But that was before they started losing races at every level across the country. Now, negative ads are just plain bad. They’re probably not representative of our old fashioned American values, either. But as far as Republican ads go, in no way should Democrats or associated groups feel sorry that they can’t raise money or interest in their candidates this year. Bob Schaffer made the decision to run. It’s his responsibility to define himself to voters. If he allows others to do it for him, well, that’s just the way it goes.

More on the Rocky’s concerns after the fold.

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Random News Pieces 6/27/08

Sen. Salazar (D-CO) offered a decent turn around on renewable energy regulation. It comes after Sen. Allard (R-CO) and other Republicans unveiled part of their proposal to increase production of domestic energy, including oil shale development. One of Sen. Allard’s talking points is the lack of a regulatory structure is holding back development and somehow hurting our energy portfolio. Sen. Salazar wants to maintain the moratorium on lease development. Citing the need for renewable energy development, Salazar pointed out that renewables also face an uncertain regulatory environment. What’s good for the goose…. A small framing victory. I wish Dems would apply it to more issues.


All three candidates running for the CO-02 seat (Jared Polis, Will Shafroth, and Joan Fitz-Gerald) said they disagreed with Rep. Udall’s vote on the FISA bill, which is a good thing. I disagree with the premise on which Rep. udall’s statement is based: there is currently no impediment to collecting intelligence on potential activities by “terrorists”. There is a current version of FISA in effect and it has done its job since its inception. Giving the Bush administration more than they wanted isn’t being an opposition party.


Recent Supreme Court Decisions

With regard to the Exxon Valdez spill – the Court greatly reduced a pre-determined penalty from $2.5 billion to $507.5 million. The spill, remember, happened in 1989. 20 years later, litigation continues. A couple of things here. Last year, Exxon made $2.5 billion in less than 2 days of business. Meanwhile, 32,000 fishermen, Alaska natives, property owners and others (including uncountable wildlife populations) had their lives irrevocably changed the day a drunk captain ran his ship full of crude aground. Further, I don’t think the Court should have heard the case. What’s unconstitutional about awarded damages? Lower courts have the capability and jurisdiction to decide these matters.

I’ll raise a related question: do you think it’s important now how much gas and oil cost? Do you think it’s important how much one corporation profits every year? Thousands of lives were ruined and Exxon took this case all the way to the Supreme Court. How much do you think doing so affected their bottom line? Whatever they pay will be pennies on the dollars they continue to make off our backs every day.

Which brings up another important point: this Court is really solidifying itself as being pro-corporatist. Does it matter now what kind of person gets put into the White House, whether by the Supreme Court or by the electoral college? You’re damn right it does. Had Gore or Kerry won, you can bet the kind of Justices nominated by Bush wouldn’t have been considered. These Justices, and many more on lower courts across the country, get to sit on the bench for their lifetime. They’ll be issuing decisions like these for the next 20-30 years. Welcome to the Corporate State of America.

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To: House Dems Who Voted for Telecom Immunity

The modern Republican: defender of the 2nd amendment, with no thought to its conditionality and destroyer of the remainder of Rights, including the 4th amendment. I guess I can see why they’ve spent so much time and energy on the 2nd now. With searches no longer hinging upon probable cause, maybe we all should have guns to defend our property, physical and electronic. The government, purposefully wrecked by Republicans, obviously has no interest in doing so any longer.

Is the House vote the end of the world? Obviously not. I’m angry the vote happened the way it did. Just as Pelosi and Hoyer learned that they needed to quickly schedule this vote to avoid hearing from constituents, activists will learn from this event as well. There are other things need attention too. FISA is definitely important, but only one facet of a larger war going on. Longer-term goals need to be established, fought for, monitored, and “audited”. I’m going to transform my emotions on this vote into continued action to make a difference. It’s what got me started as an activist and maintaining that drive to improve my country will be fed by this capitulation. As part of this, I’m no longer going to use an AT&T/Cingular cell phone. They charge too much and now I know where all that extra money is going. Instead, I’m going to do business with CREDO mobile. They didn’t lobby Congress to absolve telecoms of admitted lawbreaking. It’s an easy choice.

The fact that FISA isn’t the only story we should are about doesn’t mean we should be quiet and simply accept blatant political maneuvering. I think back to my participation in a Politics West roundtable: when Dems do something I consider wrong, I will not hold back my criticism of those actions. As a Dem, I expect more from other Dems than I do of Republicans. I’ve written before about the role of elected officials: they are our employees. Any time an employer gives an employee a task or project and the employee doesn’t perform to the employer’s standard, it is the responsibility of the employer to do something about it. And do something we must. Displeasure left uncommunicated festers and destroys relationships. We have the opportunity to let those officials know how we feel about their performance. Take it.

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