Vital for Colorado Archives - Colorado Politics
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Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 7, 20175min127
Sen. Matt Jones of Louisville said Wednesday he plans to introduce a bill in the next session to give local governments more authority to “plan, zone, and refuse to allow oil and gas operations as they see fit — just as they do with every other industry.” Though Jones is the Senate Democrats’ appointed leader […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 10, 20175min6810

Conservation Colorado is this juggernaut green organization that gives state and national candidates the heebie-jeebies in the West’s political wilds. Last year, 54 of the 60 candidates it endorsed went on to win.

And whenever legislation affecting the environment, large or small, is debated at the Capitol in Denver, Conservation Colorado is there in big ways and small.

But this year Conservation Colorado made its first municipal-level endorsements in Aurora Wards I and II.

Michal Rosenoer, the organization’s Front Range field manager, and her organization also helped campaign for Crystal Murillo and Nicole Johnston, too.

“This election is also an important triumph of progressive values and people-power over oil and gas-backed interests,” Rosenoer said. “Despite industry front group Vital for Colorado investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on these and other local races at the eleventh hour, voters ultimately picked candidates who pledged to stand up for our right to clean air, open spaces, and healthy communities.”

She also said, “Crystal and Nicole will bring a much-needed focus on diversity and inclusivity to the Aurora City Council, and will be champions on issues including oil and gas, transportation, growth, and social and environmental justice.”

The day after the election, however, Rosenoer, the Front Range leader, was tweeting about what was going down on the Western Slope the day before the election.

A protest over methane gas in Durango clearly warmed the spirits of the state’s largest environmental organization, which seems to have a lot of fires on a lot of fronts these days. (Donald Trump is good for business, if you make being your business.)

The Durango Herald’s Jonathan Romero reported that about 100 people gathered in a Durango park to raise a ruckus over Trump’s rollback of bipartisan rules passed last year to prevent methane leaks from oil and gas wells on public lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.

“Without this rule our county could face terrible health impacts,” Kellie Pettyjohn, a local farmer, told the Herald. “We don’t want this one-year delay. We want this rule in place.”

Based on rules first adopted in Colorado, the BLM methane rule would affect more than 100,000 wells that Romero reports can release up to 180,000 tons of methane annual a year. Moreover that’s methane that could be captured and sold to bring in additional money for schools and other public projects.

Conservation Colorado was all over the local activism.

Lisa Pool, Conservation Colorado’s field organizer for Durango, told us more:

“It was remarkable to see how well the protest was attended and how passionate people were about the subject,” she told Colorado Politics. “Here in Durango we suffer from a cloud of methane pollution, so the issue is visceral for people. They were infuriated not only by the proposed delay, but also by how limited the public is allowed to be engaged by the process. Protestors of all ages were fired up and chanting throughout.”

The organization Thursday announced it’s promoting communications director Jessica Goad to deputy director, where she’ll “work more directly on elections, campaigns, building the team, and helping hire a new executive director.” Pete Maysmith stepped down as the organization’s leader last month to take on a national role with the League of Conservation Voters.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 16, 20174min1120

As city fathers in Thornton examine local regulations on fracking at their meeting next week, they’re sitting on a letter advice warning them not to test state law.

“Under the law of operational preemption, local governments may not enact regulations that conflict with the Oil and Gas Conservation Act … or COGCC regulations in a matter of mixed or statewide concern,” states the letter from the Attorney General’s Office.

“Many matters addressed by the Draft Regulations are already regulated by the COGCC and similar regulations have caused local communities to come into conflict with the state in the past.”

And those local governments haven’t had any success challenging the state’s authority to regulate oil and gas operations.

The Thornton City Council gave preliminary approval to new guidelines that would prevent companies from abandoning flow lines, require them to carry at least $5 million in liability insurance and maintain 750-foot setbacks, all of which exceed state requirements.

A copy of the letter was provided to Colorado Politics by Vital Colorado, the statewide business coalition that supports responsible energy development.

Vital for Colorado Chairman Peter Moore released the a statement Tuesday in response to the letter:

“The attorney general’s office is saying local officials who stand up to anti-fracking groups will have the law on their side,. They will also be saving their taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasteful spending on litigation, because state law could not be clearer on this point.

“The Colorado Supreme Court reaffirmed decades of case law in a decision last year striking down local energy bans. In that decision, the court said a local ordinance ‘that authorizes what state law forbids or that forbids what state law authorizes’ will be necessarily preempted by state law and COGCC regulations.

“This decision, along with the failure of statewide anti-fracking ballot measures, was a huge defeat for the anti-fracking campaign in Colorado. So now they are giving local officials just plain bad legal advice to trigger more conflict and more litigation, instead of constructive dialogue.”

Vital for Colorado cited a “network of fringe environmental groups” they say are lobbying local officials o the Front Range to kill the extraction industry, even as Weld County sits atop one the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S.

Residents cite concerns about the proximity of wells and pipelines to homes and schools, as well as potential air quality concerns. The industry has invested millions in public education to convince Coloradans that fracking is a safe, clean industry. Their message was complicated by a house explosion that killed two people in Firestone, which was linked to an Anadarko Petroleum line.

“The activist campaign to pressure local officials has also included unsuccessful recall efforts of local officials in Thornton and in neighboring Broomfield,” Vital for Colorado said.

The Thornton City Council meeting is at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at City Hall at 9500 Civic Center Drive in Thornton. Comments or questions can be sent to oilandgasregulations@cityofthornton.net.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchJune 19, 20176min2860
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.



Joey BunchJoey BunchMarch 8, 20174min65
Oil and gas development near neighborhoods is a national stage, but in Broomfield all politics is local. Opponents are collecting signatures to recall Councilman Greg Stokes in a special election this summer, even though he is term-limited from running again in November. The statewide industry-friendly coalition Vital for Colorado sent out a press release Tuesday […]

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