iStock-514480061.jpg

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 30, 20172min288

Amid the latest developments involving Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission — the lawsuit brought by Boulder teens (and a host of environmental lawyers) to get the state to adopt stricter standards for oil and gas drilling — this report not long ago in the Washington Post got our attention:

Late last week, a federal judge denied a Trump administration move to prevent a major climate change lawsuit from going to trial. The case, being brought by 21 young people against the federal government, is now closer to a full-fledged trial that will pit the Trump administration against children and young adults who insist the government is undermining their future through climate change inaction. …

… The case, which was originally filed against the federal government during the Obama administration, alleges that the government violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights by promoting the production of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases — harming a climate system that they argue the government has a legal responsibility to protect for the public good. The plaintiffs range in age from 9 to 21.

So, it’s not just Colorado’s kids who have taken up litigation in the name of stopping climate change.

Professor Harold Hill would be dismayed. And out of work. Today’s restless youth no longer need marching bands to keep them out of those corrupting pool halls — not when they’re tied up in court.


AP17082785888925.jpg

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 29, 20174min353

The much-reported Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission case has divided Colorado state government. Republican Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is challenging a controversial ruling in the case by the Colorado Court of Appeals and is taking it to the Colorado Supreme Court; Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is downplaying the appellate court decision and saying the state should let it stand.

The oil and gas industry sides with Coffman and fears the ruling could shut down new drilling; environmental groups probably wouldn’t mind if it did — and are siding with Hickenlooper.

As for the La Plata County Commission? It has decided discretion is the better part of valor and is keeping out of the fight. It seems the southwest Colorado county has partisans on both sides — commissioners heard from them at a Tuesday meeting — and the commission doesn’t want to fuel a local spat over what is for now a state issue. Reports the Durango Herald:

La Plata County Commissioners on Tuesday had several options. They could have approved a petition that simply stated they wanted the Supreme Court to hear the case, or they could have approved a petition and sided with either Martinez or the COGCC.

But when La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt’s motion to join the petition in support of Martinez failed 1-2, the board ultimately took no action on the matter.

The case involves several Boulder teens as plaintiffs, backed by environmental groups, who sued the state after the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission declined the group’s proposal to use a new approach in approving or denying drilling permits. The proposal would require 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.”

The Herald notes:

Most of those who attended the packed La Plata County board room opposed the Boulder teens’ effort, claiming that if additional regulations are placed on an already declining industry, there could be a risk of losing local jobs and tax revenues.

Yet, some other citizens showed up to express a need for greater safeguards on drilling. The bottom line, though, is that the county eventually may have to get involved:

Ultimately, Commissioner Julie Westendorff said it’s likely the Supreme Court will hear the COGCC’s petition, and that the matter is likely to come up again as its decision will have an impact on La Plata County.

“Regardless of which side wins, the implications of that decision will have an impact on our county,” she said. “(If the Supreme Court hears it), then we probably will need to weigh in.”


CO-Attorney-General-Seal-W.jpg

Ernest LuningErnest LuningJune 22, 201710min890

Democratic candidates for Colorado attorney general this week tore into Republican incumbent Cynthia Coffman’s month-old decision to appeal a court ruling critics say could bring a halt to oil and gas production in the state, with two of the Democrats vowing to scrap the appeal if elected and one of them lashing his primary opponents for not weighing in sooner.


Screen-Shot-2017-06-21-at-12.21.45-PM.png

Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 21, 20178min372

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: