Hot Sheet

Eco-wisdom — out of the mouths of babes (and climate warriors)

Author: Dan Njegomir - June 21, 2017 - Updated: June 22, 2017

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If a 7-year-old sports a T-shirt proclaiming, “My Body, My Choice” or “Don’t Tread On Me,” it’s a fairly safe assumption mom or dad had something to do with it.

But what if 17-year-old “climate warrior” and “hip hop artist” Xiuhtezcatl Martinez proposes a regulation to the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission requiring that drilling permits be denied by the state, “unless the best available science demonstrates, and an independent third party organization confirms, that drilling can occur in a manner that does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health and does not contribute to climate change”?

…  And what if he sues when the commission turns him down?

Well, then you have Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which has received plenty of media coverage (including by ColoradoPolitics.com; read here and here). The case involves a much-debated Colorado Court of Appeals ruling in March that effectively reversed the commission’s decision and could shut down new drilling statewide, leaving the oil and gas industry in a panic. The ruling has divided the state government (surprise!) along party lines, with Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman appealing the ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper downplaying the ruling and saying the state should let it stand.

OK, but back to the question at hand: Is precocious Xiuhtezcatl’s role in all this just a publicity stunt? Silly question? Mainstream-media types who are covering the saga — fully cognizant of the lawyers and environmental groups orchestrating the whole affair from backstage — will smirk, roll their eyes, duly note the teen’s age and make sure they’ve spelled his name right. Then they’ll move on to the legal and political issues that matter.

And then there’s Ross Kaminsky — who tears apart the choreography of the court case in a piece published online today for the arch-conservative American Spectator, “The Environmentalists’ Human Shields.”  Kaminsky — the Denver-area talk radio host, blogger and familiar presence on Colorado’s political right — doesn’t hold back:

The lead human shield in the Colorado case … is a 17-year-old Boulderite named Xiuhtezcatl Martinez who really loves frogs and rivers and stuff. From his handlers running the Earth Guardians website: “His first name is pronounced ‘Shoe-Tez-Caht’ and he’s a 17-year-old indigenous climate activist, hip-hop artist, and powerful voice on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement.” Because children are such experts on science and economics.

Naturally, therefore, the group has built a speakers’ bureau for the teenager and his friends. “Xiuhtezcatl — deeply rooted in the Aztec tradition — shares his indigenous wisdom… and how important it will be to return to a sacred way of living on the earth,” says the pitch on the Earth Guardians website.

Kaminsky — who makes no secret of where he stands on the court case itself; he devotes most of the column to it — offers some interesting insights into the art of political stunt-craft, ideology aside:

Xiuhtezcatl has been in the environmentalist human shield business for much of his young life, including making a “What the Frack” music video (which perpetuates the lie that fracking is the cause of methane in water lines leading to “lighting your tap water on fire”) and angering parents at Evergreen (CO) Middle School by performing the cute-but-ignorant brainwashing rap for their still-rational children. He’s given a TEDx talk (“When I turned six I started asking ‘what kind of world is my generation going to be left with?’”) and been trotted out in front of the United Nations. …

Is Kaminsky picking on the kid? Is it hard to resist? Colorado political chess master Josh Penry weighed in via Twitter:

Prompting a snippy, anonymous response:

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.