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Colorado Politics: CU Chair; Environment vs. Jobs; Ozone Pollution; Oil & Gas Poll

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It’s interesting that this piece of news didn’t garner much discussion: The University of Colorado is looking to hire an endowed chair in conservative thought and policy.  This is the result of something the Cons have perfected: play the refs and get the bonus.

CU is currently developing a $9 million program which will bring nationally recognized conservative scholars to teach on the Boulder campus. The program will allow CU to create an endowment for a visiting chair in conservative thought.

What exactly is the push for this crazy idea?  It all arises from the Republican penchant for self-victimization.  The whole world is out to get every singe Con-servative, according to them.  The push is coming from entities like the American Enterprise Institute and the Independence Institute who have conducted “studies” demonstrating how crazy liberal every public college in America is.  What doesn’t get related by the corporate media is AEI and II are funded exclusively by conservatives.  Their “studies” are slanted from the start to show what they want them to show.  Because they’re so well funded and organized, they can push things like hiring a “chair of con-servative thought”.  How then, you might ask, could a place like CU in “ultra-liberal” Boulder even consider such a thing?  This is what happens when a partisan like Bruce Benson is hired as University President.  I haven’t read any stories about how CU is suddenly swimming in cash due to Benson’s superior fundraising abilities.  But CU is suddenly getting a chair in conservative thought.  Gee, I wonder how that happened.  Can you imagine the screams from the Cons if CU were to hire a chair in progressive thought?

More topics below.

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The Cons’ dedication to obstruction and false choices will never end.  After the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission passed new rules last week, Colorado Con legislators warned they would run bills to reverse those rules if they weren’t written to save oil and gas jobs.  Legislators will be able to review the rules before final implementation April 1 on private land and May 1 on federal land.

Here’s the battle they want to fight: environment vs. jobs.  It’s a false choice.  As Colorado, California and other states have already proven, protecting the environment actually maintains more jobs than expansion of the fossil fuel industry.  Colorado is renowned for its scenic landscapes and tourism generates $10 billion per year.  Oil and gas revenues amount to just over $6 billion per year.  Of course, Colorado just about gives away those resources, allowing the oil and gas corporations to keep most of that revenue as profit.  On top of that, crime is higher in regions where gas and oil drilling occurs, which ends up costing rural counties and the state even more money.

No CO Con-servative legislature is going to address those issues – they just want to make sure oil and gas corporations can continue to drill anywhere they want.  Instead of waiting to see how the new rules actually affects operations (which is difficult anyway considering the national recession), CO Cons are launching obstructionist salvoes at a non-issue.  How about dealing with the upcoming end to Referendum C, which will once again mean TABOR can cripple our economy?

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One of the disadvantages of the recent oil and gas drilling boom that has occurred in Colorado is ozone emissions.  The level emissions are enough, in fact, to be considered pollution due to people’s health effects.  A new ozone pollution control plan has been drawn up in the wake of ozone level violations across the Front Range in the past couple of years.  Emissions cuts from oil and gas operations in Weld and Larimer counties, cleaner-burning summertime gasoline and more required air pollution permits for facilities are all part of the plan.  Unfortunately, emissions-controls for the gas and oil industry were weakened by air quality commissioners.  The industry cited costs involved with stricter pollution controls.  The EPA has an upcoming deadline for implementation of stricter ozone levels.  The oil and gas industry is going to have to divert some of their record profits toward pollution control.  With Barack Obama as President, I hope the EPA goes back to Protecting instead of cheerleading Polluting the environment as it has under Bush.

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Wrapping this up, an interesting poll for Garfield County, Colorado came out a couple of days ago.  It appears that citizens don’t think too much of record-profit making industries not paying their fair share.  60% of respondents have an unfavorable view toward oil and gas development.  92% called for the industry to pay a fee to offset effects on county roads.  It’s an interesting reaction to corporate America’s habit of privatizing profits and socializing losses.  Funding services in Garfield County (and others) is negatively affected by the oil and gas industry’s free loading.  Roads are wrecked by heavy trucks driving on them.  If Garfield is forced to spend money to repair roads, they have less money for education and public health.  The corporate welfare needs to end.  Unfortunately, Amendment 58 went down at the polls last month by a 58%-42% margin.  A58 would have done away with a tax exemption oil and gas corporations enjoy exclusively in Colorado.  It seems more Coloradans will have to be impacted by this industry before they’re made to pay their fair share.

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