Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandFebruary 13, 20187min466
The Colorado Ethics Commission Monday spent close to two hours deliberating on the facts and issues in an ethics complaint filed against Fort Collins Republican Sen. Vicki Marble. While the commission appeared to lean toward dismissing the complaint, they decided to hold off on a vote until their next meeting on March 5. Marble is […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 7, 20174min14970

Broomfield voters gave a 57 percent edge to giving local government more say-so on whether oil-and-gas wells are safety and healthy. At the very least it was a major moral victory for opponents of the oil-and-gas industry in the fast-developing countryside north of Denver.

Industry and business coalitions on the right, and environmental groups on the left together spent and estimated $500,000 in direct campaign spending and community organizing around Question 301.

And now both sides are bound to spend more money on legal fees once the ballots and victory party festivities are packed away.

Broomfield residents made a statement about how they feel about oil-and-gas development close to homes and businesses, but it the win could come with costly results for taxpayers. If history is any guide, industry will follow through on threats to take the city to court.

In June, city attorney Bill Tuthill warned proponents that the amendment would be difficult to defend, and now it’s job to defend it. He read from a statute that said the city charter couldn’t repeal vested property or contract rights, such as those that accompany wells and mineral rights.

“In the simplest terms, this statute says you can’t undo a contract by passing a city charter amendment,” he said.

Meanwhile, Monday night the Lafayette City Council passed a six-month moratorium that’s likely headed to court at taxpayers’ expense.

Fracking has fought and won before in these parts before.

Fort Collins, Longmont and (in 1992) Greeley have tried to regulate or ban oil-and-gas drilling, but the State Supreme Court turned them back. Lower courts thwarted Boulder and Larimer counties’ attempts.

Jim Alexee, executive director of the Colorado Sierra Club, noted on Election night that his side was outspent 10 to 1 in the fracking fight in Broomfield.

“Voters saw through the oil and gas industry’s corrosive, corrupt influence on our politics,” he said. “Together, individuals from across the political spectrum voted to stand with scientists and Colorado families by voting for a commonsense, bipartisan fracking solution.”

He called the win “a shot across the bow” for the oil and gas industry.

“Over the past several years, the oil and gas industry has spent over $80 million dollars to influence public opinion,” he said of the amount oil-and-gas interests have invested in public outreach in Colorado. “It’s clear that Coloradans have grown tired of their deception.”

Vital for Colorado, a broad business coalition that supports energy development, indicated litigation is inevitable.

“Question 301 was the fourth political fight in Broomfield just this year, and anti-oil and gas groups lost the first three contests,” Vital for Colorado chairman and CEO Peter Moore said. “They pushed a temporary oil and gas ban, organized a recall election, and tried to derail a new agreement that allows continued energy development in Broomfield – and all these efforts failed.

“At best, Question 301 — which flies in the face of state law by declaring ‘plenary authority’ over oil and gas permitting decisions — will trigger lawsuits and force Broomfield taxpayers to waste large sums of public money on litigation.”


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 11, 20173min13100

You know the war over Broomfield’s anti-fracking proposal — or any pending ballot issue, for that matter — is heating up when a former governor steps into the fray. Republican Bill Owens, who served as Colorado’s chief exec until 2007, took to the airwaves and digital media this week with a video denouncing Question 301 on Broomfield’s November ballot.

In the video, Owens calls 301 “a deceiving measure” and a “cynical power play focused on blocking energy development.” The former two-term guv also assures viewers “Colorado already has the toughest oil and gas regulations in the U.S.”

The proposal would grant the combined city-county municipality “plenary authority to regulate all aspects of oil and gas development, including land use and all necessary police powers.” Plenary means absolute (we had to look it up), and there’s a problem with that: It’s a power that the state government contends local governments don’t have.

If it passes, the ballot measure probably would set Broomfield on a collision course with the state as the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled the state government, via the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, holds ultimate authority over oil and gas exploration.

That likely showdown prompted some residents to band together under the slogan, “Don’t let them divide Broomfield” in opposition to 301. They say they’re tired of their community serving as a jousting green over oil and gas politics.  In 2013, voters there OK’d a five-year drilling moratorium, but it was mooted by the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling. Earlier this year, voters turned back an attempt by anti-drilling resident-activists to recall a city council member perceived to be too soft on oil and gas exploration.

In siding with the No on 301 campaign, Owens — who before his time in elective office ran the Colorado Petroleum Association — appeals to war-weary Broomfielders in his video:

“National outside groups are trying to turn Broomfield into a political battleground over oil and gas development — again,” he says as the video opens. “Well enough is enough.”


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 27, 20173min1860
The perennial face-off over fracking is of course a four-way fight: While the oil and gas industry has been duking it out with activists opposed to drilling, the state of Colorado has been going toe-to-toe with local governments over who has the power to regulate drilling in the first place. It is the latter clash […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 26, 20175min3140

A political fight over fracking in Broomfield shows little sign of a final bell. Colorado Politics told you last week how resident Camille Cave called out Councilman Kevin Kreeger at a recent council meeting.

She said Kreeger had a “bromance” with Andrew O’Connor, the anti-drilling activist who justified a threat of violence against oil and gas works in an April 19 letter published in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Kreeger said he didn’t know O’Connor personally when he, like other council members (and state legislators, it turned out), received dozens e-mails from O’Connor about a proposed ballot initiative he was pushing to raise  severance taxes on oil and gas operations, before O’Connor’s over-the-top letter about blowing up wells and shooting oilfield workers.

Colorado Politics reported that, and Cave called us out on that point, noting that Kreeger corresponded with O’Connor after the letter.

“Kevin Kreeger called me a liar in public and the dates on his e-mails prove that I spoke the truth,” she wrote to this website. “And then when you published a story that also says I was untruthful, it just wasn’t right.”

We asked to see the e-mails, which she provided via  the oil-and-gas industry website Western Wire. In them, O’Connor and Kreeger corresponded cordially about the ballot initiative on March 1 and March 9, about six weeks before O’Connor’s letter in the Boulder paper.

The e-mail Cave quoted from, partially, at the meeting was dated May 2, almost two weeks after O’Connor’s letter to the editor.

“I applaud your energy and desire to fight for what’s right,” Cave said, reading Kreeger’s response to O’Connor.

She never said Kreeger advocated violence, which Kreeger has publicly repudiated, but Cave said at the meeting, “I was shocked to learn a member of this city council would have dealings with someone like Andrew O’Connor.”

In the paragraph before his compliment to O’Connor, Kreeger calls him out about his violent rhetoric.

“But you walk a fine line if what you say could sound like you advocate violence against people. If people take it that way, I think you hurt your cause,” Kreeger wrote. “And if you blatantly call for violence, then you’d be way over a line.”

In the sentence after the compliment, Kreeger said, “…You should tread lightly when it comes to certain statements.”

Camille said in an e-mail to Colorado Politics last weekend,” My concern was that Kreeger has a tendency to play both sides against the middle in his spoken and written words.”

Reached Friday, Kreeger said it’s unreasonable but intentional to try to hold him accountable for the words of a stranger who sent him an e-mail, even if he responds politely.

“The truth is if somebody solves hunger in Africa after they e-mail me or e-mail me and then do that, it doesn’t mean I get any credit for solving hunger in Africa,” he said.

Kreeger characterized the flap as pushback against residents who oppose oil and gas operations near homes and schools. He said they’re up against an industry that knows how to play the hardball politics of innuendo by sowing seeds of character assassination in a community.

“It’s the dirtiest kind of D.C. politics being injected into local Broomfield politics, people who want to crush reputations, to destroy people’s careers if they have to, to move them out of the way, people who are going to spend massive amounts of money to take control of the public conversation, all on behalf of the gas and oil industry,” Kreeger said.

Cave said she’s just a Broomfield resident, who’s lived in the city 10 years and worked there 20.

The full exchange between Cave and Kreeger can be watched here.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 19, 20176min4790
Broomfield city and county attorney Bill Tuthill
Broomfield city and county attorney Bill Tuthill. (Photo via livestream of the city and county council meeting)


Colorado Politics told you this month that some Broomfield residents want more public health and safety requirements for permitting oil and gas wells written into the city charter.

They’re out collecting the 2,500 signatures from the town’s roughly 48,000 registered voters to get the issue on the November ballot. The language mirrors that of a pending lawsuit by Boulder County teenagers (fronting environmental groups) to force state regulators to balance public health and safety against the wishes of industry when the commission reviews new permits.

City and county attorney Bill Tuthill threw a cold dose of legal reality on the activists at the last city council meeting. Even if they get it on the ballot and it passes, current law is not in its favor, which could put the city in court, a familiar place for north metro communities trying to push back against the energy industry.

Tuthill read from a statute that said the city charter can’t repeal vested property or contract rights.

“Even if the charter is amended the effect it will have on existing rights and contracts is going to be governed by this statute,” he said. “… In the simplest terms, this statute says you can’t undo a contract by passing a city charter amendment.”

Colorado Politics asked for a comment from Vital for Colorado, the statewide coalition of business leaders that supports energy development.

“We have been down this road before,” Vital chairman Peter Moore said in a statement. “National anti-oil and gas groups pushed a series of unlawful local bans on energy development and those measures were struck down by the state’s highest court. It’s hard to believe oil and gas opponents are trying the same thing again, but that’s exactly what they’re doing, and they’re sending the bill directly to Broomfield taxpayers.”

The temperature has been hot in Broomfield for a while, in a region accustomed to court cases and bitter political disputes between people who want to drill and prosper in the northeast metro region and those who want to live there.

At the meeting, Broomfield resident Camille Cave alleged Councilman Kevin Kreeger had a “bromance” with Andrew O’Connor, the Lafayette man who wrote a letter to the editor of the Boulder Daily Camera two months ago suggesting blowing up gas wells and shooting workers to impede drilling.

Cave read from Kreeger’s e-mails obtained through an open-records request. She chose selected passages that, out of context, sounded damning. In one, Kreeger complimented O’Connor for his his fracking activism. “‘I applaud your energy and drive to do what’s right,'” Cave read from the e-mail, written sometime before O’Connor’s April 19 letter.

She began and ended suggesting Kreeger was a snake in the grass, and made a hissing sound at the podium as she concluded.

Kreeger responded that he was targeted by the oil and gas supporters, and he was simply answering one of the dozens of e-mails O’Connor sent him, with no knowledge of O’Connor’s views on violence as a solution.

He said he’s not against all fracking, but is opposed to current proposals for more wells in the city.

“What’s truly unfortunate is this nasty, disgusting, Washington, D-C.-level of personal attacks that’s come into our local politics,” Kreeger said. “And in no way ever did I imply that violence is an appropriate response on either side.”

You can watch the council meeting online by clicking here.