Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 20, 20187min2915

Normally it’s Democrats who want the public to know more about the effects of energy production near people, flora and fauna, but not so much on wind energy.

That irony came to visit when Rep. Paul Lundeen brought a bill this session to create a state-approved online clearinghouse of credible information — about the public’s health in proximity to windfarms.

In Lundeen’s sprawling El Paso County district residents near Calhan are complaining about headaches, stomach aches and circulatory problems since the 145 turbines at the Nextera wind farm began to spin in 2015. Livestock roams the plains landscape and dozens of residents live nearby.

The Republican lawmaker from Monument doesn’t think it’s asking too much for the state to give people information they can rely on, rather than forcing them to roam the internet for answers that could be posted by a partisan, a crackpot or both.

The state could curate credible, peer-reviewed studies and link to legal documents that often aren’t easy to find with a simple Google search, he contends.

“Making things easier for the people — that’s exactly what this legislation would do,” Lundeen pleaded to the Democrats on the committee moments before they killed his bill on a party-line vote.

Colorado’s $6 billion of private investment in wind energy production has provided “a hockey stick” curve on a growth chart, Lundeen said. The political left doesn’t want to discuss it unless oil, gas and coal are in the mix.

It might look like a political mousetrap from the outside. I suggested that to Lundeen, and I read people well. He has no reputation as a schemer but a terrific statehouse reputation as a problem-solver.

The situation just exposed the partisan scar tissue around energy that has hardened mindsets of both sides.

“This was the perfect bill for me,” he said the next day on the bench on the south side of the chamber, after House Speaker Crisanta Duran gaveled members out for the weekend. “Because it’s this policy question about what’s wind energy mean to us. We’ve gone since 2000 from 22 megawatts in this state to, in 2016, more than 2,000 megawatts. That’s 131 times growth, so this is a big issue coming to a front yard near you soon. So what are we going to do about it?”

Rep. Joann Ginal knew how Lundeen felt.

In 2013, she and fellow Democratic Reps. Mike Foote of Lafayette, Jonathan Singer of Longmont and others presented a bill to have the state determine if people who live near oil and gas operations are as healthy as those who don’t. The state study would have examined epidemiology reports from Larimer, Weld, Boulder and Arapahoe counties against one or more control groups elsewhere.

House Bill 1275 was drowned like a rat on the Titanic by a solid Republican bloc who picked off stray moderates from the Democratic majority to kill seven oil-and-gas bills that session.

Ginal tried and failed again the next year. She would support an all-of-the-above look at what energy production is doing to us. The daughter of a New England cop, she’s practice in pharmaceutical and medical fields for more than two decades, specializing in reproductive endocrinology.

“We don’t offer a compilation of research in this state that’s really helpful in that area, as well,” the physician said of renewable energy.

Government has regulated — and academic and advocacy interests have studied — the effects of traditional fuels as far back as 150 years, massive wind farms and growing fast on Colorado’s horizon.

We haven’t heard the last of this. Two Democratic gubernatorial candidates — Jared Polis and Michael Johnston — are pledging to get all of Colorado’s juice from renewable sources by 2040. A handful of cities are pledging to get there sooner.

Tom Darin, the Western states policy director for the American Wind Energy Association, says his trade association maintains a bibliography its eager and willing to share with policymakers and the public. The credible information supports the industry as safe, he said.

“We are entrusted and given some credibility in bringing in and how to do $6 billion in investment in Colorado,” Darin said.

Rep. Terri Carver, another El Paso County Republican, said unbalanced information doesn’t tell the whole story. And how. Partisan salesmanship has poisoned the oil-and-gas discussion, as the left and right continue to extend spewing pipelines of money into Colorado for PR and lobbying.

I trust the Wind Energy Association. The literature about health and safety is stacked up on their side, just like the information provided by the oil-and-gas industry.

I did a Google search about wind energy, because I’m cynical. The first article was from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

“Canadian family physicians can expect to see increasing numbers of rural patients reporting adverse effects from exposure to industrial wind turbines (IWTs),” it stated. “People who live or work in close proximity to IWTs have experienced symptoms that include decreased quality of life, annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, headache, anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. Some have also felt anger, grief, or a sense of injustice.”

Now I don’t know who to believe.


Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 22, 20182min314
The Colorado Heart Gallery puts a face, or a few, on foster care adoption this month in Fort Collins, exhibiting photographs of kids hoping to be adopted. Last year in Colorado 874 such foster kids found permanent homes, the Department of Human Services said. As of a couple of weeks ago, 267 others were awaiting adoption, […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 26, 20173min942
A bill passed last session could help fill an important gap in Colorado’s sprawling rural regions, attracting large animal veterinarians to the state’s cattle country, The Fence Post newspaper noted last week. House Bill 1282 allows veterinarians who currently live in Colorado to qualify for up to $70,000 in student loan forgiveness if they’re willing […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 17, 20175min423

For PrideFest this weekend in Denver, it’s worth an #ICYMI to revisit Out Front magazine’s showcase of the six members of the Colorado legislature’s cohesive LGBTQ Caucus.

Speaking of which, Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on the west steps of the state Capitol, the LGBTQ Caucus and One Colorado will put on the Pride Rally for Equality.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, U.S. Rep. Diane DeGette and Gov. John Hickenlooper are expected to speak.

The group of Democrats in the caucus worked to pass hate-crime protections for their community in the last session and annually provides the fire break against religious liberty legislation they say is geared to discriminate.

“Since the election, queers across the nation are preparing for the worst under the new administration,” Out Front wrote in February. “While no major punches have been thrown under the Trump administration, Colorado has already seen and blocked a broad religious exemption proposal that would have allowed individuals and businesses to claim their religion gives them permission to ignore laws they don’t want to follow.”

Each Colorado lawmaker is profiled, under a heading with a nickname. Sure, everybody knows Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City as Dom, but who knew Rep. Paul Rosenthal from Denver goes by “Paulie”?  Colorado Politics would suggest Sledgehammer, because he makes a big impression. And Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver went with her middle name, Nicole, but we’d call her Dynamite.

Denver-based Out Front is a venerable publication for the LGBTQ community reaching seven states and about 76,000 readers, as of 2015. Its website has a global reach.

The magazine was founded in 1976. Colorado native Jerry Cunningham and his partner, JC McDonald, bought the then-financially rocky operation along with its parent company, Q Publishing, in 2012.

Besides Moreno, Rosenthal and Herod, the caucus includes Reps. Daneya Esgar of Pueblo and Joann Ginal of Fort Collins, led by Sen. Lucia Guzman, a Denver minister who also serves as Senate Democratic leader.

“I am honored to work with such a distinguished group of public servants who represent the LGBTQ community with pride and distinction,” Guzman said in a statement last week. “Representation is important, and in our roles in the General Assembly, we fight every day to make sure the voices of LGBTQ Coloradans are heard, and their rights remain protected.

“As Colorado celebrates Pride Month, we should not only honor LGBTQ leaders who are currently in office, but remember past legislators who affected change in a such a profound way as champions of our community. State Sens. Pat Steadman and Jessie Ulibarri immediately come to mind as former legislators who fought the good fight. From Amendment 2 to civil unions, Senators Steadman and Ulibarri, along with others, helped pave the way for Colorado to become the accepting state it is today for LGBTQ Coloradans. I wish everyone a happy PrideFest, and I thank my colleagues for being such excellent role models for the LGBTQ community.”

Amendment 2 was the 1992 voter-approved ballot initiative that barred state and local laws from prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in 1996 that it violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Colorado legislature, with the LGBTQ Caucus at the helm, passed civil unions for same-sex couples in 2013.