DENVER— The following Local, regional and national organizations sent a letter today to President Obama calling on him to “keep federal fossil fuels in the ground” and cancel the Bureau of Land Management’s federal oil and gas lease sale slated for Nov. 12 in Lakewood, Colo., owing to concerns over runaway greenhouse gas pollution and the climate crisis: Continue reading
Following is a letter from Be The Change’s Board of Directors to the Colorado Public Utility Commission regarding Boulder’s bid to operate their own municipal utility grid:
November 2, 2015
To the Public Utility Commission:
Subject: PUC Hearing scheduled for November 4, 2015
In our opinion, the City of Boulder has every right to expect the PUC to hear its proposal to own and manage the utilities that serve its people. This right is a constitutional guarantee gained by the people from the Home Rule provision of the state constitution, Article XX, added by a vote of the people in 1902, and strengthened by amendment in 1912.
It came about because of legislative over reach. In a nutshell, the people of Denver thought that, with regard to internal matters, they should have the right to determine how local government worked on their behalf. The legislature thought otherwise. The people won. They should win in this case as well.
We point you in particular to Article XX, Section 6. It says in part that a city charter shall be its “organic law,” extending in scope to “to all local and municipal matters” and shall “supersede within said city or town any law of the state in conflict therewith.” One might argue, given the clear constitutional language guaranteeing self-determination for home rule cities, it would be unconstitutional for the PUC not to hear Boulder’s proposal.
Furthermore it is our understanding Boulder would like to move more quickly toward renewables, wind and solar, and away from the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act’s dependence on switching from coal to natural gas for electrical energy.
Growing evidence suggests that, over the short term, natural gas may be accelerating climate heating, even more than CO2 from coal–because a unit of unburned or leaked natural gas traps over 100 times more heat in the atmosphere than an equal unit of CO2 from coal over a ten year span. The ten-year time horizon is thought critical to controlling other feedback loops, such as the thawing of methane sequestered in Arctic tundra.
If so much of the natural gas were not escaping into the atmosphere before being burned, this dire prediction would not be the case. But as Robert Howarth, Cornell University professor and chair of the Department of Ecology and Environmental Biology at Cornell University demonstrated in a peer reviewed scientific paper released only weeks ago, the leak rate from shale gas in particular is alarming and climate threatening.
His research shows the leak rate for fracked wells over their life cycle, from well to consumer, to be in the 12 percent range. He concludes, “There is no bridge fuel, and switching from coal to shale gas is accelerating rather than slowing global warming.”
He concludes by reminding people that the way out is through renewables, and that studies done at Stanford show that ”we can move from a fossil fuel-
driven economy to one driven totally by renewable energy sources (largely solar and wind) in a cost-effective way using only technologies that are commercially available today. The major part of the transition can be made within the next 15 years, largely negating the need for shale gas, with a complete transition possible by 2050.”
Boulder citizens and civic leaders seem to have anticipated Dr. Howarth’s conclusions and recommendations. We think it supremely important to this and future generations that you hear Boulder’s proposal for ownership and management of its utility. The language in Article XX of our State Constitution demands nothing less.
Be the Change
Be the Change
Be the Change
Jim Fitzgerald, a Bayfield rancher, activist, and member of Governor Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force, sent the following letter to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) in response to their current rule-making regarding the Task Force recommendations.
The Task Force was formed last year as part of a back-room compromise between the governor and Jared Polis, who in turn withdrew two ballot measures that would have increased drilling setbacks and given local governments a veneer of control over O&G operations within their jurisdictions. In February, the 21 member Task Force sent the Governor nine recommendations regarding O&G operations in Colorado, which many regarded as ineffectual.
Here is the text of Jim’s letter to the COGCC:
Consider this as comment on your current rulemaking about Task Force recommendations from a very disgruntled member of that Task Force. The issues you are currently considering are only a small portion of what you should be considering for adoption. The COGCC must consider all thirteen of the oil and gas task force proposals which received 11 or more votes from the 21 member task force.
Gwen Lachelt, the former chairwoman of the oil and gas task force told the Durango Herald (Oct 10) that the rules currently proposed by the COGCC “gut” the intent of the task force. Not only do they gut our intent, they simply disappeared 13 proposals which received positive votes from a majority of the task force. In order to understand how so many intelligent people could waste so much time in the production of something so useless, it’s important to describe the outrageous rigging of the process by the governor’s office.
The 21 members of the task force (including myself) were recruited and assembled under Executive Order B 2014 005. Section II E of that Order stated that: “Recommendations of the Task Force regarding new or amended legislation shall be made by a two-thirds vote of the membership.” It was understood by many , if not most of the members that any proposal that did not require new or amended legislation and which received a simple majority of support would be forwarded for consideration for a rulemaking by the COGCC. After several weeks of meetings, Mike King from the Department of Natural Resources informed our group that all proposals would need a two-thirds vote in order to be considered for adoption. There was no vote on this change. It was simply announced. Therefore when the Keystone Center issued the final report they made the bizarre decision to place 13 proposals which received 11 or more votes in the section of “Minority Report”. The result was that several important proposals to give local governments more standing have not been considered even when they had as many as 13 positive votes. Thirteen out of 21 is not a minority. (See recommendations #7, #12, 12a, and #2 for example.)There were several other important proposals with majpority votes which were excluded.
The governor has chosen to make a mockery of the entire Task Force purpose and process. There were many who chose to participate in that Task Force who did so with much skepticism about accomplishing a whole lot. But I believe that even the most cynical of us never thought that there would be such shameless manipulation to ensure an outcome that had been pre-decided. An outcome that did not reflect in any way the hard work and sincere effort that the majority of Task Force members put into this.
In testimony at an EPA public hearing this week, Wes Wilson of Be The Change USA urged regulators to tighten control over methane emissions from oil and gas wells. Below is Wes’s complete testimony at the hearing.
“I worked here — at EPA’s Regional Office in Denver — as an environmental engineer for over 35 years. I represent BE THE CHANGE, a Colorado non-profit organization dedicated to better government.
I’m here today as a concerned citizen to testify that these rules are inadequate as a remedy and not in time to be effective.
By Phil Doe
It is a truth universal that when a politician establishes a task force to examine an explosive public issue, often an issue of his own making, said politician will term the task force’s recommendations remarkable in both their wisdom and farsightedness.
This truth was borne out on February 24th when Colorado Governor Hickenlooper’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Fracking issued its carefully vetted and resultantly sparse recommendations. He personally selected the 21 members, so of course it was fitting he label them Blue Ribbon and congratulate them on a job well done. The majority were oil executive cronies or political yesteryears friendly to him or the industry. Continue reading
Videos of the entire Banking on Colorado Conference are now available on the Banking on Colorado conference website.
The conference, sponsored by Be The Change USA, the Public Banking Institute, and the Denver Foundation, was held in Denver on January 31 and attracted 120 activists who heard national leaders in the Public Banking movement discuss the corrupt practices of the Too-Big-To-Fail banks and alternatives offered by public banks.
Conference speakers included:
- Nomi Prins – Senior Fellow at Demos, former Managing Director at Goldman Sachs; former Senior Managing Director at Bear Stearns. Nomi authored All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power and It Takes A Pillage: Epic Tale of Power, Deceit & Untold Trillions
- Ellen Hodgson Brown – Founder, President Emerita, and Senior Advisor, Public Banking Institute. Ellen authored Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution
- Gwendolyn Hallsmith – Executive Director, Public Banking Institute. Gwen authored Creating Wealth: Growing Local Economies with Local Currencies and The Key to Sustainable Cities
- Mike Krauss – Chairman, Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Public Bank Project and
Founding Board Member, Public Banking Institute
- Karl Beitel – Director, Public Bank Project. Karl authored Local Protest, Global Movements: Capital, Community, and State in San Francisco
The 21 member Colorado Oil and Gas Task Force appointed by Governor Hickenlooper to “examine … issues surrounding oil and gas operations and provide recommendations” has released its official report, which can be read in it’s entirety here:
The report includes nine recommendations, each approved by at least two-thirds of the task force members. Given that the task force was split between O&G representatives and other stakeholders, it’s not surprising that the recommendations address none of the big issues raised by Fractivists and others advocating for local control over O&G operations in their jurisdictions.
Here are the nine recommendations:
- RECOMMENDATION TO FACILITATE COLLABORATION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, COLORADO OIL AND GAS CONSERVATION COMMISSION AND OPERATORS RELATIVE TO OIL AND GAS LOCATIONS AND URBAN PLANNING
- RECOMMENDATION TO INCLUDE FUTURE OIL AND GAS DRILLING AND PRODUCTION FACILITIES IN EXISTING LOCAL COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING PROCESSES
- RECOMMENDATION TO ENHANCE THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT LIAISON AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT DESIGNEE ROLES AND FUNCTIONS
- RECOMMENDATION TO INCREASE COGCC FULL TIME STAFF, INCLUDING INSPECTORS, FIELD OPERATIONS, ENFORCEMENT, AND PERMITTING STAFF
- RECOMMENDATION RELATED TO CDPHE STAFFING, A HEALTH COMPLAINT LINE, A HUMAN HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT, AND A MOBILE AIR QUALITY MONITORING UNIT
- RECOMMENDATION TO CREATE AN OIL AND GAS INFORMATION CLEARINGHOUSE
- RECOMMENDATION TO REDUCE TRUCK TRAFFIC ON PUBLIC STREETS, ROADS, AND HIGHWAYS FOR OIL AND GAS ACTIVITIES
- RECOMMENDATION TO GENERAL ASSEMBLY REGARDING AIR QUALITY RULES
- RECOMMENDATION TO IMPLEMENT A COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
On January 31, Be The Change USA hosts an outstanding conference on Public Banking: Banking on Colorado – Prosperity For All.
The conference aims to educate public officials and citizens of Colorado about the role a public bank could play in creating a more sustainable, democratic economy, and motivate them to act.
When: Saturday, January 31st, 1PM – 8:30PM
Where: The First Universalist Church of Denver, 4101 E Hampden Ave in Denver
Click the links below for:
This conference aims to educate public officials and citizens of Colorado about the role a public bank could play in creating a more sustainable, democratic economy, and motivate them to act.
When: January 31st, 1PM – 8:30PM
Where: The First Universalist Church of Denver, 4101 E Hampden Ave in Denver
- $25, or $10 for students with a valid student ID
- $15 extra for dinner (optional)
Senior Fellow at Demos, former Managing Director at Goldman Sachs; former Senior Managing Director at Bear Stearns
Author, All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power and It Takes A Pillage: Epic Tale of Power, Deceit & Untold Trillions
On Wednesday, January 31, a coalition of grassroots organizations asked for the resignation of
Co-Chair Randy Cleveland from Governor Hickenlooper’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on fracking. This Task Force was established so U.S. Representative Jared Polis could gracefully strike from the 2014 state ballot two initiatives he had financed. One would have required 2000-foot setbacks from homes, the other would have allowed towns and cities to determine for themselves whether they wanted fracking in their back yards.
The reasons for his requested resignation are several:
- Cleveland’s company, XTO, was recently fined $2.3 million for toxic dumping in West Virginia. The estimated cleanup costs are another $3 million. XTO is recognized as one of the worst polluters in Pennsylvania, having been fined more than $227,000 for toxic dumping into major rivers such as the Susquehanna. A state grand jury has brought criminal charges against the company because of its reckless and illegal dumping.Phil Doe, Environmental Director for Be the Change said, “The governor’s appointment of Cleveland to a leadership role on his “blue ribbon” task force is bewildering. Cleveland has been given control of the task force even though his company has been repeatedly charged with significant regulatory violations. If any of us had done what Cleveland’s company has done, we’d probably be in the clinker. He’s not even a resident of this state. Yet, he is invited to jet in here, make decisions about our lives, our property, our safety and then jet back to his home in Texas. Colorado doesn’t need a law-breaking Texas CEO to tell us how to regulate our oil industry.”
- XTO’s activities in Colorado show a similar pattern. State oil and gas records show that XTO has self-reported 101 spills, with almost 800 thousand gallons of operational waste of unknown toxicity leaked into the environment, mostly from faulty disposal ponds and corroded pipes. About 93 percent of the waste was never recovered, some of it reaching rivers and streams. For these infractions, the company has been fined once for $2000. Moreover, the company is wasting approximately 7 percent of all its gas production, either through flaring or leaks. With a market value of roughly $68 million, the waste of this nonrenewable energy has cost Coloradoans reduced severance and royalty payments as well.
Over a month ago, Be The Change USA and 27 other grass roots organizations wrote a letter inviting the members of Governor Hickenlooper’s ‘Blue Ribbon’ task force on fracking to tour several front range fracking sites. Due to a lack of response, Phil Doe of Be The Change USA wrote a follow-up request:
Subject: Open letter to Blue Ribbon Task Force. Please confirm receipt.
Dear Committee Members:
A little over a month ago, 28 grassroots groups representing citizen interests from across the state sent you a letter asking that you consider several options for the upcoming public meeting in Greeley on the 15th of this month. We have received no official reply.
We asked that you make committee members available for a bus tour of the Greeley area. Collectively, we have extensive knowledge of the area and the fracking process itself. Unofficially, we’ve been told by one of your committee, Sarah Barwinski, that Clean Water Action will conduct a tour. CWA is not a member of our group, they are a national environmental organization, and neither, obviously, is Ms Barwinski.
So, given the resulting haze and the nearness of the Greeley event itself, we wish to inform you that we will still conduct our tour. If any of the committee would like to participate, we would welcome them. If none wish to participate, we will go ahead with a busload of citizens, press, and public officials. Either situation promises to be eventful. Please give us some idea of how many committee members will attend our tour so we can plan accordingly.
We’ve also suggested on several occasions that you listen to at least one panel of health experts on the consequences of fracking. We think this only fair since the takings threats from the industry and lease and royalty holders have been roundly discussed on panels at practically every hearing so far.
Surely public health impacts from fracking can be given at least equal treatment. Yet, heretofore, our sense is that the public health issues have been limited to the public comment period at the end of your hearings where citizens are limited to 2 minutes of fame. This is shameful. But here again we have heard nothing about this suggestion.
What is more, the prospective agenda for Greeley is of little value to us on this issue since as of this morning it had not yet been published. So in this vacuum, allow us to give you some preliminary suggestions of physicians and scientists whom you should recognize and seek out for their expertise. These voices would be in addition to Doctors Robert Green and L. Steele and PhD Karl Ford, all of whom in their two minutes at Rifle supported the state of New York’s recent ban on horizontal fracking, suggesting the same course of action for Colorado:
- Dr Anthony Gerber, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, National Jewish Hospital
- Dr John Adgate, PhD, MSPH, Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Health and the Environment, Colorado School of Public Health
- Dr Lisa McKenzie, PhD, MPH, Research Associate, Department of Public Health and the Environment, Colorado School of Public Health
- Carol Kwiatkowski, PhD, Executive Director, the Endocrine Disruption Exchange
- Dr. Scott Denning, PhD, Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science, CSU
- Dr. Chelsea R. Thompson, PhD, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado
- Dr. James Danforth, family practice, Loveland, CO
Finally we asked that citizens in Greeley and the surrounding area be given an opportunity to participate on a panel and be questioned by panel members. Here again we have heard nothing, but would be glad to give you names of citizens should you all decide to proceed with this request.
We would also suggest that at the Greeley meeting and those scheduled for Denver following, that citizens commenting to the committee first identify themselves as beneficiaries of oil and gas development, either as employees, mineral owners, or as service industry employees. It is our evaluation that these public testimonies are being hijacked to an unhealthy degree by the industry and its direct beneficiaries. To be sure they too are part of the public, but not the disinterested public. And there is a difference as I’m sure you will agree.
Phil Doe on behalf of the 28 grassroots organizations identified on our original letter.