Energy Policy Center Report: Electricity rates skyrocket across all Colorado sectors

Across all sectors of Colorado the cost of electricity has skyrocketed more than 67 percent between 2001 and 2014, easily exceeding median income growth and the expected rate of inflation for the same period, an extended analysis of government energy records by the Independence Institute has revealed.

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For all sectors between 2001 and 2014, the cost per kilowatthour jumped from just over 6 cents to more than 10 cents, or 67.11 percent.

Data obtained by the Independence Institute from the Energy Information Administration and the U.S. Census Bureau showed an increase in electricity rates for residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation sectors throughout the state contributing to the across-the-board growth in prices. In November, the Energy Policy Center reported a staggering increase of 63 percent for residential customers in Colorado.

“Retail residential electricity rates increased from 7.47 cents per kilowatthour in 2001 to 12.18 cents per kilowatthour by 2014, a 63.1 percent hike. Coloradans’ median income, however, went up just 24.1 percent, from $49,397 to $61,303. Median income in Colorado actually declined between 2008 and 2012,” the report concluded. It also noted that the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projected just a 34 percent increase in inflation for the 14 year period, using the agency’s CPI inflation calculator.

And while the data for late 2015 from the BLS indicated a modest decline of 2.9 percent in electricity prices for the Denver-Boulder-Greeley census area, this drop in rates did not offset the 3.8 percent increase seen one year earlier. While global commodity prices have given Colorado energy consumers a brief respite (and wild fluctuations in prices), electricity generation and costs have proven less volatile.

“The energy index, which includes motor fuel and household fuels, decreased 19.0 percent from the second half of 2014 to the second half of 2015, following an increase of 0.3 percent in the same period one year ago. Falling prices for motor fuel (-26.0 percent), all of which occurred in the first half of the period, were largely responsible for the decline in the energy component. Lower prices for utility (piped) gas service (-18.9 percent) and electricity (-2.9 percent) also contributed to the decrease. During the same period one year ago, motor fuel costs declined 3.1 percent, while the indexes for utility (piped) gas service and electricity rose 5.8 and 3.8 percent, respectively,” the BLS report concluded.

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Analysis from the earlier November report on residential electricity rates stands confirmed and, indeed, underscored:

It’s clear from the data that Coloradans’ income is not keeping pace with almost continuous electricity price increases over the past 15 years, consistently outpacing the rate of inflation. Colorado’s ratepayers have had to endure two economic recessions over that period, while feeling no relief from escalating energy prices driven by onerous regulations driving energy costs ever higher.

From fuel-switching and renewable mandates to other costly regulations imposed by state and federal agencies, Colorado’s ratepayers and taxpayers alike have been subject to policies that do not consider energy affordability or reliability as a primary concern. The most vulnerable communities–elderly, minorities, and the poor–are the most sensitive to even the smallest increases in energy costs.

Not to mention the state’s many business owners, including small business owners, who face the same hikes in energy costs that could force decisions like layoffs or relocation to nearby states, where energy costs are lower. This reduces job growth and harms the state’s economy twice, with increased business costs passed on to consumers–the same ratepayers who already are paying more at the meter.

Upshot: the data for the remaining sectors emphasizes the double impact that increased energy costs have in the form of rapidly escalating electricity rates on Colorado ratepayers, who see not only their own personal energy costs rise, but are hit a second time by commercial, industrial, and transportation charges that are “baked into” the cost of providing goods and services that are passed on to consumers.

William Yeatman, senior fellow of environmental policy and energy markets at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of the Independence Institute’s 2012 Cost Analysis of the New Energy Economy, said in the November report that given the current regulatory climate, things “could get much worse.”

Some of the costs already baked in to electricity prices came directly from policy initiatives undertaken in the last decade.

Yeatman analyzed 57 legislative items included in the push for a “New Energy Economy,” determining that as much as $484 million in additional costs were incurred by the state’s Xcel customers–an additional $345 per ratepayer.

“The best explanation for this confounding upward trend in utility bills nationwide is the Obama’s administration’s war on coal. Colorado, alas, was well ahead of the curve on the war on coal, which explains much of why the state’s rate increases are presently so much greater than the nationwide average,” Yeatman said.

Part of the war on coal, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan in August 2015.

The policy battle over the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and the future of Colorado’s electricity rates, rests upon multi-state legal challenges to the agency’s authority that just last week resulted in a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court. That decision was overshadowed, however, by the subsequent death of Justice Antonin Scalia days later, leaving the legal challenge in turmoil given the SCOTUS’ delicate and likely 4-4 ideological split and the contentious election year battle over nominations to replace Scalia.

Meanwhile, Governor John Hickenlooper remains committed to pushing for a “prudent” continuation of planning for Clean Power Plan implementation, with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment proceeding with its pre-stay timeline. Colorado Senate Republicans, however, called ignoring the court’s stay “unacceptable.” Legislation addressing CDPHE’s ability to proceed with CPP planning will likely be introduced before the end of the 2o16 Colorado legislative session.

The Independence Institute’s analysis of electricity costs, broken down by the other sectors, shows commercial electricity rates for Colorado have seen a 77.78 percent increase from 2001 to 2014, jumping from 5.67 cents per kilowatthour to 10.08 cents.

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Industrial rates have tracked with the overall rate increase of approximately 67 percent, from 4.48 cents to 7.47 cents per kilowatthour.

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Transportation figures from EIA data do not extend back to 2001. Instead, the trackable data begins in 2003, with a sharp decline by 2005, before prices more than doubled, from 5.01 cents to 10.79 cents per kilowatthour, or a 115 percent increase in the last full 10 years of EIA measurement.

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Overall increases for comparison (with the adjustment for transportation noted):

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For a complete description of EIA definitions of electricity consumers and data collection, click here.

February 4 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Local governments face production-related revenue downturn; more red tape sought for resource development; Wyoming’s cautionary tale

Pushing for bans on fracking or other measures to limit responsible natural resource development will only exacerbate problems at the local level, putting education, infrastructure, and other critical services at risk, on top of the drop noted here in the Denver Post due to commodity prices tanking:

Because 97 percent of Platte Valley’s budget comes from taxes paid on mineral production and equipment — a property tax known as ad valorem — McClain said his district could be looking at a budget reduction between $300,000 and nearly $1 million next school year.

How that plays out in terms of potential cuts or program impacts is yet to be seen, he said.

“You’re always concerned about your folks,” McClain said. “You worry about it taking the forward momentum and positivity out.”

It’s not just schools that are suffering. Municipal budgets, local businesses and even hospitals in mineral-rich pockets of Colorado are watching closely to see how long prices remain depressed.

Combine that with a 72.3 percent drop in severance tax revenue–down to $77.6 million this year compared with $280 million last fiscal year–and you’ll get, in the words of the Post, “the state’s direct distributions of those proceeds to cities, counties, towns and schools will be reduced from a little more than $40 million in 2015 to just $11.9 million this year.”

Nearly 75 percent drop, just from falling oil prices. Put on top of that more red tape, or eliminate the practice altogether, and eventually those figures will head toward zero (no production = no tax revenue).

This is what is at stake when it comes to pushing back against the repetitively dubbed “common sense” regulation that threatens a rather large portion of the state’s economy.

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Speaking of restrictions:

BRIGHTON — Adams County leaders made it clear Wednesday morning that they won’t support a 10-month ban on new oil and gas activity in urban parts of the county after hearing nearly eight hours of testimony that began Tuesday night.

Commissioner Chaz Tedesco said he wasn’t comfortable imposing a moratorium on an industry that has proved critical to Adams County’s economy. He said he supported hiring an attorney that can make sure the county is making the best deals with industry as possible.

“I want to make the right decision with the right information,” Tedesco said.

His colleague, Erik Hansen, said oil and gas workers are not the villains their opponents make them out to be and that the county has a good site-by-site evaluation system already in place.

“You know what? The folks who work in the industry care about their kids too,” he said.

Those families–the workers and the kids–live in the communities. It may be stunning to anti-energy activists, but those developing and producing the energy that drives your car (gas OR electric), heats and cools your home, keeps your iPads and laptops running, and generally produces an incredible standard of living for you might live right next door. *shudder*

Good on Adams County for rejecting hyperbolic, paranoid nonsense.

***

And not to be outdone by the anti-fracking ballot measures proposed at the state level, Colorado legislators are looking to add more red tape, because enough is never enough, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s rulemaking last month did not address those concerns, say energy development opponents:

Democrats in the Colorado House, where that party has a majority, are expected to introduce two measures later this session, one making it easier for surface property owners to collect damages from mineral rights owners if their properties are damaged, and a second measure to give local governments more regulatory authority over drilling within their jurisdictions.

House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, said that second idea is something she highly supports.

“I think this bill would be a very reasonable approach,” she said. “I have always felt that’s where you have to get at, the conflict in property rights.”

Regardless of those measures, the backers of several proposed ballot measures dealing with fracking are still going ahead with their ideas.

Those proponents, who could not be reached for comment, have said they were not satisfied with new regulations approved by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission last week. They said those new rules, the result of a special task force established by Gov. John Hickenlooper as a compromise to keep the proposals off the ballot in 2014, didn’t go far enough.

Rest assured, short of the outright ban, anti-energy folks will not back off even if all of the proposed measures are put into place. New development might be blocked, but continuing extraction would still be a target. They will never be satisfied, until all development is 100 percent eliminated.

Don’t take my word for it:

The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter would like the entire state of Colorado to be 100% renewable, beginning with Denver. Becky English, the executive committee chair for the Sierra Club, responded to an email about a sustainability summit scheduled for early December in Denver:

I would have liked to share that the Sierra Club national board has declared a goal of powering the electric sector by 100% renewable energy nationwide, and that the Rocky Mountain Chapter has adopted the goal for Colorado. I will approach you offline about how best to work toward this goal in Denver.

And that’s just the Sierra Club–see also here and here.

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Stakeholder meetings or dog-and-pony shows supporting the Clean Power Plan and the state’s agencies dedicated to enforcing the rule (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment)–the Gazette certainly has an opinion:

Reality struck when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment took the show to Brush, a rural eastern plains town where people work hard to earn a buck.

Four of five panel members were cheerleaders for the president’s plan, which has the full support of Gov. John Hickenlooper. Panelist Kent Singer, an attorney and executive director of the Colorado Rural Electric Association, offered the panel’s only balance. He said public utilities and electric cooperatives are supposed to provide reliable energy at a price households, farms, ranches and businesses can afford. The president’s plan, he worries, would impose hardships.

Audience participants crashed the party to explain how eastern Coloradans have invested in hundreds of wind turbines that won’t count toward the proposed standards, as the plan would disqualify assets built before 2013.

State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg told state officials he represents 21,000 square miles that host more wind turbines than the rest of the state combined, and most would not qualify. He worries about constituents having to fund investments they already made in vain.

“We can look at the lower middle class, the working poor, the poor and the elderly and see how they would be impacted, and how it would make it even tougher for them,” Sonnenberg said. A farmer who spends $10,000 on energy to irrigate a field would take a big hit, the senator explained, at a time when some crop prices have plunged.

State health officials need to get serious about their presentation for the remaining “All Stakeholder” meetings in Pueblo and Craig. This plan poses serious consequences for those who cannot afford haphazard and experimental efforts to control the climate. We need a balance of experts presenting a variety of views, not another panel stacked with support for a political agenda.

Having attended one of the first CDPHE “stakeholder” events back in September 2015, I can assure the reader that comments in favor of the Clean Power Plan ran about 15 to 1, with plenty of others from industry to rural electric co-ops basically pleading for the agency to implement the rule as mercifully as possible.

It’s clear from the first few events that the stakeholder process is nothing more than a three ring circus for advocates like activists and renewable energy businesses to show up and applaud the agency, giving it a rather unnecessary shot in the arm of confidence. Meanwhile, the folks who actually bear the brunt of the rule itself, whether it’s the ratepayer who pays for the energy and the guaranteed profit for the utilities (all stranded assets like coal plants having to be replaced with more expensive energy alternatives), the taxpayer who is on the hook for subsidizing unaffordable and unreliable energy alternatives, the farmers and investors who were sold a bill of goods in years past of being part of a “New Energy Economy” by previous politicians only to be passed over and not counted as renewables anyway . . . the list goes on and on.

The CDPHE process is really illustrative of quite a few economic concepts, from crony capitalism to captive regulation, concentrated benefits vs. dispersed costs, and government intrusion in the free market to pick energy winners and losers. In this case, the winners repeatedly show up and applaud. The potential losers are taken out of the process, and must rely on lawsuits like the multi-state challenge joined by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, or the much more distant hope of an administrative change in policy due to a shift in the political climate at the Federal level.

***

Turning to updates on the Gold King Mine spill:

DENVER – Southwest Colorado feels forgotten in the aftermath of the Gold King Mine spill, state lawmakers heard Wednesday.

Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, expressed the sentiment to a House committee just before the panel killed his legislation that would have allowed the state to file lawsuits against the federal government on behalf of individuals impacted by the spill.

Coram was especially irked by the fact that the measure was assigned to the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, a committee sometimes used by the majority party to kill legislation deemed unpopular by leadership. Democrats control the House.

The bill died on a 5-4 party-line vote.

“If this (Gold King spill) had happened in a metropolitan area, we would be doing something. But the fact is, in rural Southwest Colorado, we … have the opinion that the Front Range does not care who suffers in rural Colorado,” Coram told the committee.

And while state efforts to provide relief failed, Congressional inquiries into the EPA-caused spill continue apace, with calls for transparency and clarification over the role of the EPA in a report from the Department of the Interior that was supposed to be impartial and independent:

A key report on the Gold King Mine disaster, which poisoned drinking water for three states and the Navajo Nation, is now being questioned by congressional committee and subcommittee chairmen.

New evidence may “contradict” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Gina McCarthy’s “repeated assertions” to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) “that EPA had reviewed only a [Department of the Interior] press release and had no role in DOI’s independent review” of the Gold King Mine blowout, according to a Wednesday letter to McCarthy.

“Please clarify … that DOI did not have a conflict of interest, that its review would be independent and that EPA officials had no involvement in DOI’s review,” committee Chairman Jim Inhofe and Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight Subcommittee Chairman M. Michael Rounds wrote.

The DOI report detailed that the EPA-caused Gold King Mine spill, which sent three million gallons of wastewater into Colorado’s Animas River, was preventable. The report stated, however, events at the site before and after the incident were beyond the investigation’s scope – even though such details were sought by the EPW committee.

We’ll keep an eye on this development.

***

News from our Wyoming neighbors, a cautionary tale of how the current administration’s push to kill coal will likely kill local communities too:

President Barack Obama’s administration has ordered a three-year moratorium on sales of federal coal reserves, and it’s putting a rare mood on folks in Gillette, a ranching-turned-energy town of 32,000: pessimism.

“Most of the time it comes back. This time, I don’t know,” said Bobbie Garcia, watching her daughter summit a two-story climbing structure at the town’s $53 million recreation center largely built with coal money.

Until recently, the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana remained a rare bright spot for the industry. Even as Appalachian mines shut down and cheap natural gas started crowding out coal as a power plant fuel, economies of scale kept the region rumbling.

Massive strip mines sprawled across tens of thousands of acres, much of it in the Thunder Basin National Grassland, produce roughly 40 percent of the nation’s supply of the fuel.

For Gillette and other communities, that means more than 7,000 mining industry jobs. And not just fly-by-night, roughneck gigs, but the sort that sustain families year after year, pointed out Michael Von Flatern, a state senator who has lived in Gillette since the early 1970s.

The sort of jobs that are likely irreplaceable. Also, it’s no easy task replacing 40 percent of the country’s coal, considering that 23 percent of U.S. energy production still comes from that resource. Compare that to 0.5 percent for solar and 2 percent for wind, according to the Energy Information Administration through 2014 (the last full year).

If you want to know what’s headed for Colorado, look north. Or ask the folks in Moffat County about the Colowyo Mine situation from last year.

January 13 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Oil and gas drive Colorado’s economy, but outlook uncertain; Western Slope feels effects of regulation; WOTUS repeal?

Oil and gas development contributes a rather large percentage to Colorado’s economic condition, and new numbers confirm its continued importance to the state:

A new economic report shows that oil and gas development contributed billions to Colorado’s economy in 2014 generating benefits that researchers conclude “impact every citizen in the state.”

Prepared by the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder, for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), the report details how oil and gas development contributed $31.7 billion in total economic impact to Colorado’s economy in 2014, along with “supporting 102,700 jobs and $7.6 billion in compensation.” From the report:

“The oil and gas industry, along with nearly all extraction industries, inherently provides substantial economic benefits due to its integrated supply chain, high wage jobs, and propensity to sell nationally and globally. Much of Colorado’s oil and gas is sold outside of the state, contributing wealth to owners, employees, governments, and schools, all of which are beneficiaries of oil and gas revenues.” emphasis added

Energy in Depth has a complete review of the report’s findings.

The state’s oil and gas development would be crippled if newly proposed ballot measures calling for a ban on hydraulic fracturing and other regulatory limits are passed in 2016.

***

Lower oil commodity prices–a drop from $90 per barrel in 2014 to roughly $30 per barrel in January 2016 means great prices at the pump, but not good news for Colorado’s oil and gas workers:

KUSA – Oil is in an all-out freefall, dropping from roughly $90 dollars a barrel at the end of 2014 to just more than $30 per barrel Tuesday.

It’s enough to make you wonder if the industry is starting to panic.

Colorado Oil and Gas Association president and CEO Dan Haley said when commodities drop, challenges emerge.

“You’ll see some restructuring, you’ll see some tightening of jobs,” Haley said, adding that in 2015, about 2,000 people lost their jobs due to falling oil prices.

The full fallout is not likely to be known when or if the price has hit bottom, or begins to rebound, in the short or long term. Rig numbers are down and students at Colorado School of Mines are worried about the future of the industry, according to the article.

***

A report on job creation tied to a “100% renewables” future is looking a little damaged, according to the folks at Energy in Depth:

A Stanford professor who claims a transition to 100 percent renewables would be a major job creator has scrubbed his website of data showing significant long-term job losses from such a plan, according to a new review by Energy In Depth. Online records show that the professor, Dr. Mark Jacobson, edited his documents just hours after an Energy In Depth report revealed how the transition to 100 percent renewables would cause a net loss of more than 1.2 million long-term jobs, based on data pulled directly from Dr. Jacobson’s website.

The decision to alter his own data could raise additional questions about Dr. Jacobson’s plan for a 100 percent renewables energy system, a plan that has already faced significant criticism from the scientific and environmental communities.

Even if the jobs were there, as Dr. Jacobson contended, not everyone on the left is on board the “100% renewables” bandwagon:

Earlier this week, Dr. Jacobson granted a separate interview to the left-wing blog Daily Kos, which gave him a forum to respond to Energy In Depth’s report. But Dr. Jacobson likely did not anticipate another Daily Kos blogger criticizing his 100 percent renewables plan as impractical. In a comment posted to the article including Dr. Jacobson’s interview, an environmental blogger said that “no electric utility is ever going to adopt Jacobson’s plan” because, among other things, the “wind power component of Jacobson’s plan cannot be relied upon for reliable electric power generation and supply.”

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Two Colorado Republicans reacted to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address and in particular the plight of Colorado’s Western Slope communities hit hard by the administration’s regulations:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., whose 3rd Congressional District trails the rest of the state in the economic recovery, said the president would do well to visit his district.

“I would invite him to visit Craig or Delta,” Tipton said in an interview. “They have lost good-paying jobs and are struggling right now.”

Both communities in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District have been hard-hit by coal-mine closures. Arch Coal, a major coal supplier and employer on the Western Slope, declared bankruptcy on Tuesday, before the speech.

“The president talked about significant government interference in the marketplace that will most likely imperil jobs on the West Slope of Colorado,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

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Speaking of Arch Coal’s bankruptcy:

Arch Coal Inc.’s bankruptcy filing Monday signals that the coal industry’s shakeout is entering a crucial phase, which will result in more small, unlisted mining companies, record numbers of mines for sale and lower wages for workers.

Over a quarter of U.S. coal production is now in bankruptcy, trying to reorganize to cope with prices that have fallen 50% since 2011, battered by competition from natural gas and new environmental rules. Arch, the biggest domino to fall so far, is trying to trim $4.5 billion in debt from its balance sheet.

Competitors Walter Energy Inc., Alpha Natural Resources Inc., and Patriot Coal Corp. all filed for court protection last year.

But bankruptcies only spell death for current corporate structures, not necessarily the mines they operate. And the U.S. still gets 34% of its electricity from coal, according to the Energy Information Administration, and that number is still expected to be around 30% by 2030. “The question is, what is that 30% going to look like?” says Steve Nelson, chief operating officer at Longview Power LLC, a 700-megawatt coal-fired plant in northern West Virginia.

Market-driven changes are good–the transition from coal-heavy electricity to natural gas is not a problem, and beneficial to the environment–when done without government mandates. Onerous regulations designed to put coal out of commission, from fuel switching initiatives in Colorado to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, are not beneficial to the country’s economy and to the individuals and communities impacted by layoffs and dislocation, as well as skyrocketing residential electricity rates.

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Should be an interesting event and will definitely address some of the impact to Colorado of recent commodity downturns in oil:

By: Vital for Colorado
Event Description
Join us in discussing lifting the U.S. Oil Export Ban and what it means to Colorado. Our esteemed panel includes U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter (D) CO and U.S. Representative Ken Buck (R) CO, Christopher Guith, U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, Geoff Houlton, Dir. of Commodity Fundamentals Anadarko Petroleum Corp., John R. Grizz Deal, CEO IX Power Clean Water, and Craig W. Van Kirk, Professor Emeritus Petroleum Engineering Colorado School of Mines. This is a free event but registration is encouraged.

WHEN
Thursday, January 21, 2016 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (MST) – Add to Calendar
WHERE
Colorado School of Mines Green Center – Bunker Auditorium – 924 16th Street Golden, CO 80401 – View Map

The Independence Institute is not affiliated with the event.

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The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule is facing legislative repeal, subject to President Obama’s veto:

House lawmakers are poised to pass legislation repealing what is probably the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) most hotly contested regulation: an attempt to expand its authority over bodies of water across the country.

The House will vote Wednesday on a bill that would repeal the EPA’s so-called Clean Water Rule under the Congressional Review Act — a law that allows Congress to vote down executive branch regulations. EPA’s water rule has been heavily criticized by lawmakers who see it as a huge expansion of government power and could mean more regulations for private landowners.

“We want them to go back and do a new rule,” Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs told The Daily Caller New Foundation in an interview. Gibbs sent a letter to House leadership last year asking them to defund EPA’s water rule in the 2016 budget bill.

The Senate passed a bill repealing EPA’s water rule in November, sparking huge outcry from environmentalists who support more federal control over bodies of water. The House is likely to pass the repeal with bipartisan support, sending it to President Barack Obama.

December 3 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: US House resolutions push back on Clean Power Plan, rail vs. pipelines in Denver, Gold King Mine owner has strong words for EPA

December 3, 2015 by michael · Comments Off
Filed under: CDPHE, Environmental Protection Agency, Hydraulic Fracturing, New Energy Economy 

The U.S. House passed two resolutions on the Clean Power Plan and carbon emissions this week:

The House sent a resounding message to the nations gathering in Paris for international talks on climate change by approving two Senate resolutions to block President Obama’s restrictions on power plants.

The resolutions now go to Obama. When the resolutions passed the Senate last month, the White House said Obama would veto the resolutions.

The House on Tuesday voted 242-180 to block the Clean Power Plan, a mostly symbolic measure by Congress to stop President Obama’s signature environmental regulation. The chamber also passed a second resolution to block carbon emissions limits on new power plants, 235-188.

The Clean Power Plan, seen as Obama’s signature environmental regulation, is the centerpiece of the administration’s commitments to the 21st Conference of Parties, or COP21, being held in Paris during the next two weeks.

Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., said the vote is meant to show the 195 other countries gathering in Paris that there are serious objections to the Obama’s plans in the United States.

“We want to send a message to the climate change conference in Paris that in America there’s serious disagreement with the extreme policies of this president,” Whitfield said.

***

There are at least two ways to ship crude oil and related fuels–by rail or via pipeline–and the recent surge in tank cars on the nation’s rail lines have mashed up against the rapid urbanization of former industrial and commercial areas of Denver, such as the neighborhoods between Union Station and the Platte River:

Peering through four panes of insulating glass, it’s not the noise that bothers Don Cohen as a daily parade of freight trains passes 50 feet outside his condo. He and some Riverfront Park neighbors are troubled by what they’re seeing on the tracks more frequently. Tanker trains carrying crude oil and other flammable liquids — reflecting a shift in energy trends — rumble past the gleaming high-rise condo and apartment buildings several times a week, he says.

Those tankers pass near other Denver neighborhoods, too, old and new, upscale and hardscrabble. Highways and railroads box in some areas, with only one way out if disaster were to strike.

The trains also travel near the city’s major sports venues and Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park, raising fears among some about what might happen in a fiery derailment or other accident — however small the chances might be.

Appeals by Cohen and others to city officials for increased emergency planning have met with mixed success.

It’s difficult to ignore that the rail lines in the region have

The numbers of rail shipments have increased over the past 7 years:

Nationally, crude oil volume on the rails has skyrocketed from just shy of 10,000 tank cars in 2008 to about 500,000 last year, The Associated Press recently reported. In Denver, according to city officials’ summary of reports by the two major railroads, trains carried well over 15,000 tank cars of flammable liquids in a recent one-year period, including 8,000 filled with crude oil.

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The owner of the Gold King Mine shares more insights into the August Environmental Protection Agency-triggered spill in southwest Colorado:

Todd Hennis, owner of the Gold King Mine, was vacationing at a remote lake in upstate New York when a friend sent him images of the Environmental Protection Agency-contracted crew’s triggered blowout on his property, effectively turning the Animas River into an orange spectacle. He was speechless and horrified, but not surprised.

“I’ve been trying to make everybody aware of the dangers posed by the Sunnyside Mine pool for 14 years,” he told The Durango Herald last week. “But when I saw the pictures, I just felt my life was over. I just thought, ‘Oh God, what did they do?’”

The EPA, investigating the Gold King Mine’s partially collapsed tunnel, accidently released an estimated 3 million gallons of acid mine drainage Aug. 5 into Cement Creek, down the Animas River and into the San Juan River in New Mexico.

Hennis, for his part, has long maintained increased flows from the Gold King Mine are a result of groundwater seeping from the vast, adjacent Sunnyside Mine network after it was plugged, first in 1996.

“I went up to the Sunnyside offices that were in Gladstone at that point and said, ‘I’d like to talk about the discharge,’” he said. “They denied everything, and have been denying it ever since.”

Hennis minced no words about how he felt since the EPA took over four months ago:

In the aftermath of the Aug. 5 blowout, Hennis said he gave the EPA the keys to his land for an immediate cleanup response. But since, he claims the federal agency has enforced a complete takeover of his property.

“They’ve been so thoroughly arrogant, incompetent, and frankly criminal in their outlook, that it’s kind of like dealing with the mafia,” he said. “It is very much an act of rape. I don’t mean to denigrate women who’ve gone through it, and for that matter, some men, but it’s been such an ugly penetrative act on an unwilling victim.”

An unrelated uranium mine spill near Cañon City has activists comparing it to the EPA Gold King Mine spill, though the volume is nowhere near as large as the August spill, and was located at a 30-year-old Superfund site (a designation many desired for area around the Gold King Mine):

Colorado health officials were reviewing an explanation from Cotter Corp. on Monday after a spill at Cotter’s defunct uranium mill in central Colorado — one of the nation’s slowest Superfund cleanups.

A pipeline leaked about 1,800 gallons last week on Cotter’s 2,538-acre property uphill from Cañon City and the Arkansas River.

Well tests in July found water in the waste pipeline area contained elevated uranium (577 parts per billion, above a 30 ppb health standard) and molybdenum (1840 ppb, above a 100 ppb standard).

This spill was the latest of at least five since 2010. Federal authorities in 1984 declared an environmental disaster and launched a Superfund cleanup.

This spill prompted comparisons to the EPA’s toxic spill near Durango:

“They need to eliminate the contamination at its source,” said attorney Travis Stills, who represents the community group Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste.

Buried mill tailings and impoundment ponds “continue to be sources of contamination. It’s some of the most toxic mining residue you could have — all of what you’d expect to find at a Gold King disaster, plus an overlay of uranium and radioactive isotopes, flowing into groundwater with a very direct route to people and the Arkansas River, ” Stills said. “What’s it going to take to get real action?”

***

Approximately 89 percent of the state’s oil production, or nearly 100 million barrels by year’s end, will come from Weld County in 2015, despite declining energy prices:

Despite a general slowdown in oil drilling across the Denver-Julesburg Basin and elsewhere, production growth in Weld County this year is on track to top 100 million barrels of oil.

Oil production growth in the county continues to cast a long shadow over the rest of the state, with more than 89 percent of the state’s production this year coming from Weld, up from 85 percent in 2014.

Industry analysts say operators are getting more oil from every well by drilling the best parts of the basin, employing improved well fracturing techniques and optimizing operations.

“We are seeing a relentless drive to push down costs across the basin,” said Reed Olmstead, manager of North America supply analytics, upstream strategy and competition at IHS Energy in Englewood. “Improved productivity is an important part of well economics, and in this price environment, only the best wells are getting drilled.”

Here are some of the staggering numbers from Weld County:

For the first half of 2015, Weld oil production averaged 8.7 million barrels per month, up from a monthly average of 6.7 million barrels in 2014.

Statewide oil production for 2015 so far is at 79.46 million barrels. Of that, 70.85 million barrels, or 89 percent, were produced in Weld. Rio Blanco is the second-largest oil county in Colorado with 2015 production of 2.6 million barrels produced to date.

Barring an unexpected drop-off in production, Weld is on pace to produce more than 100 million barrels of oil this year, a remarkable milestone considering the county produced just 26.8 million barrels in 2011.

In 2014, Weld produced 81.4 million barrels, or 85 percent, of the statewide total of 95.2 million barrels. For Weld, that was an increase of 13.8 million barrels, or 19 percent, from 2013 production.

***

Meanwhile, Sen. Michael Bennet (D) has introduced a bill designed to spur carbon capture technology:

A bipartisan measure being carried by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and a Republican senator from Ohio aims to boost capture and storage of carbon dioxide, which would not only keep it out of the atmosphere but make it available for use in boosting oil production.

Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Rob Portman introduced the Carbon Capture Improvement Act last month. It would help power plants and industrial facilities finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture and storage equipment. Businesses would be able to make use of private activity bonds, which typically are used by local or state governments, are tax-exempt, and can be paid back over a longer period of time.

The captured carbon dioxide could be stored underground or used by energy companies in a process known as enhanced oil recovery.

“This bill would reduce upfront costs, one of the largest impediments to carbon capture technology. It is good for the economy and good for the environment,” Bennet said in a recent news release. “In Colorado it would enhance our diverse energy portfolio. The captured carbon dioxide can be used by oil producers to extract more oil out of current wells — improving our energy security and boosting domestic energy production. It also reduces emissions from power plants and industrial facilities to help keep our air clean — which is something that Coloradans value and makes our state an attractive place to live.

“This bipartisan bill is a market-based, technology-neutral approach to attacking the problem that carbon dioxide creates.”

***

Finally, State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-SD1) says no to a carbon tax:

A tax on CO2 would also negatively impact those not directly tied to Colorado’s coal industry. From home heating to electricity to transportation, Coloradans depend heavily on energy to power their lives. The NAM study estimates that, under a carbon tax, prices for natural gas used for heating and electricity would rise more than 40 percent. Meanwhile, gasoline prices at the pump could jump by more than 20 cents a gallon. These price hikes will affect every family and business in the state and, by 2023, as many as 52,000 people could be put out of work.

This would hit rural Colorado especially hard, as the state’s agricultural sector would face higher prices at every level of production. These costs will ripple throughout the economy, affecting everyone from the ranchers and farmers who drive Colorado’s $40 billion agriculture industry, to families buying local produce.

This regressive, job-killing tax is often advertised as a market solution to cutting emissions. In reality, it’s simply another means of artificially raising the prices of affordable, reliable electricity and pressuring investment in expensive, unreliable energy sources like wind or solar. Rather than imposing additional costs on Colorado families, policymakers should adopt a real market solution that relies on technological innovation and consumer choice while retaining economic growth and low energy prices. If Colorado’s leaders are committed to protecting hard-working Coloradans and growing the state’s diverse economy, they should reject a carbon tax.

November 20 Colorado Energy Cheat Sheet: Sierra Club to push for 100% renewables in Colorado; EPA Clean Power Plan hearing draws opposing sides; COGCC discusses new regs

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(Image Credit: Michael Sandoval)

The Independence Institute’s Energy Policy Analyst Michael Sandoval delivered this statement to the Environmental Protection Agency’s November 16 hearing in Denver, Colorado on the agency’s proposed federal plan and model trading rules for the Clean Power Plan:

In its December 2014 comments, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, and the Colorado Energy Office all maintained that ‘In Colorado, the PUC has exclusive statutory authority to regulate the IOUs and associated electric resource decisions’ and that ‘depending upon the plan elements proposed by Colorado, legislation may be needed to clarify or direct state agencies on their respective roles and authorities’.

In a proposed mass-based emissions allocation trading market to trade eligible resource credits (ERCs), who is the market maker? It would appear to require institutional apparatus of some sort–what enabling legislation in Colorado is required? In other states? If no legislation at this level is required, why not?

Markets are complex and difficulty in trading–what are the rules? how are the rules established? Who handles disputes and is the ultimate arbiter? How are the credits created in the trading mechanism?

The Independence Institute is a free market think tank interested in promoting the free market in energy resources, but as nice or well-intentioned a trading market for ERCs sounds at first glance, it becomes evident that government-created “markets” are simply picking energy winners and losers, often arbitrarily, often without actual considerations of cost or impact, but rather to self-serving goals contained within a given policy, such as the Clean Power Plan. When those transactional costs of trading ERCs rise, who will pay them? The inefficiencies won’t be borne at the administrative or even generating level, but by the ratepayers and taxpayers, not all of whom will be prepared for the rising costs of the Clean Power Plan itself, much less in terms of wealth transfers from state to state as the trading scheme expands.

So far, as with much else from the rollout of the Clean Power Plan, the timeline for market creation is heavily compacted. Information from CDPHE in September on question of trading was light and unhelpful. As it appear now it is a scribbling of generalities, and it is difficult to comment because it appears to be more like a make-up-as-you-go, details to be sketched in later program that will prove harder, more expensive, and more nuanced than any central planning or federal trading scheme could possibly account for ahead of time.

These comments, of course, fall into the requisite acknowledgement of the ongoing legal, technical, and other shortcomings of the overall Clean Power Plan. Proposing a FIP and trading scheme would appear to be adopting a one-size-fits-all scheme to hasty environmental and electric generation planning at federal and state levels, and an expansion of EPA control over generation, distribution, and energy choice at the state level.

Compressing the timeline in 2016 will leave states scrambling without guidance ahead of their initial state plan submissions in 2016. Complicated mechanisms like a credit trading scheme, besides being legally or technically burdensome, surely deserve a measured approach. Concerns about the CPP or a credit trading system will continue with retards to electric reliability and electricity prices, something the state of Colorado has indicated is a foremost consideration, should we be able to take the state’s agencies and political establishment at their word.

Finally, all portions of the CPP must and should address the regressive nature of raising electricity prices on the nations’ poor, minority, elderly, and other vulnerable communities.

Thank you.

***

The Denver Business Journal captured some other responses at Monday’s EPA Clean Power Plan hearing:

Kim Stevens, Environment Colorado:
“We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change here in Colorado, from drought to floods, and these extreme weather events will only get worse without bold action to slash carbon pollution.”

Laura Comer, the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign:
“The Clean Power Plan shows that the United States has a real, enforceable plan to curb dangerous carbon pollution and that we are truly to committed to combating climate disruption. We cannot let attacks from big polluters and their allies lessen our chances of a strong international agreement and undermine the safety of our communities.”

***

More reaction in the Denver Post:

“The EPA regulations will cost Colorado jobs, will cause electricity prices to soar and threaten the reliability of the electrical grid by mandating a wholesale restructuring of our electricity system for no appreciable benefit to the climate,” Colorado Mining Association president Stuart Sanderson said.

Sanderson and National Mining Association officials pointed to industry-backed studies saying power costs for residents of Colorado and other states would increase by around 30 percent between 2022 and 2030.

The plan leaves it to states to implement changes subject to EPA approval. EPA officials have said they will take into account each state’s current energy mix. If a state fails to act, federal officials would impose “an implementation plan” on that state.

The feds held the hearings on implementing the plan in Pittsburgh last week and, after Denver, will hear from residents in Atlanta and Washington D.C. A second day of comments are scheduled to continue Tuesday morning in Denver.

Sanderson called the Clean Power Plan a “stealth energy tax” for Coloradans.***

Many folks who push for clean energy or regulations like the EPA’s Clean Power Plan say that these programs will create jobs–but they never seem to remember the jobs these anti-energy choice mandates end up killing, like the more than 200 jobs Union Pacific will likely slash due to decreases in coal transportation in Colorado:

Union Pacific this week notified workers it will shutter its Burnham Shop repair yard in central Denver, putting more than 200 jobs on the line and darkening a piece of Colorado history.

Operations at Burnham will halt Feb. 14, the Omaha-based railroad said.

“The well-documented decline in the coal carloadings in Colorado — a result of natural gas prices and regulatory pressure — has diminished the need for locomotive repairs and overhauls in the Denver area,” Calli B. Hite, a Union Pacific spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to The Denver Post.

Loaded coal trains originating in Colorado have decreased 80 percent since 2005, Hite wrote.

***

Earlier this week, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission held hearings on new fracking rules, including limiting hours for fracking operations and setbacks for development:


***

The Bureau of Land Management has stirred up controversy over 65 existing oil and gas leases with a new environmental impact statement that puts nearly half at risk:

The Bureau of Land Management released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) Wednesday that put 65 existing oil and gas leases on White River National Forest land under the microscope. The agency found that 25 leases in the controversial Thompson Divide area must be either wholly or partially cancelled.

This long-awaited decision was embraced by conservation groups, and panned by the oil and gas industry.

The rub was over the legality of these leases, which are owned by Houston-based energy companies SG Interests and Ursa Resources, and have been scrutinized for years. Many conservation groups have said that the leases were issued without undergoing the proper environmental evaluations.

The BLM draft EIS backs that position, and now a 49-day public comment period will begin on Nov. 20 and will run through Jan. 8, 2016.

“We appreciate the effort of the local community in this discussion,” said BLM Colorado State Director Ruth Welch in a prepared statement. “We will continue to work toward finding a path forward that balances energy development and conservation, while recognizing the White River National Forest’s planning efforts.”

***

The Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter would like the entire state of Colorado to be 100% renewable, beginning with Denver. Becky English, the executive committee chair for the Sierra Club, responded to an email about a sustainability summit scheduled for early December in Denver:

I would have liked to share that the Sierra Club national board has declared a goal of powering the electric sector by 100% renewable energy nationwide, and that the Rocky Mountain Chapter has adopted the goal for Colorado. I will approach you offline about how best to work toward this goal in Denver.

The “Sustainable Denver Summit” on December 3rd will feature Denver Mayor Michael Hancock:

Sustainable Denver Summit Program
AGENDA:

8:00 – 9:00 a.m. – Registration, Continential Breakfast, and Exhibition Space

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. – Opening plenary session – Remarks from Keynote Speaker and Mayor Michael B. Hancock

10:00 a.m. – Breakout Sessions –

• Energy – Focusing on issues of energy efficiency, renewable energy, use of energy in mobility, and air quality and greenhouse gas reduction

• Water – Focusing on both water quantity and water quality, including climate change resilience

• Materials – Focusing on cradle-to-cradle materials management issues, including environmentally preferable purchasing, recycling, composting and by-product synergy

• Mobility – Focusing on providing multiple interconnected mobility modes that are cleaner, safer, cheaper and more efficient than the current system

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. – Luncheon and Sustainability Awards – Awards will be presented to the 2015 Sustainable Denver Award winners

1:45 – 3:45 p.m. – Breakout Sessions Reconvene

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Closing Plenary Session – Report out on commitments

They should probably also feature a breakout session on how these programs will make the city of Denver–not to mention the entire state of Colorado under the Sierra Club’s plan–less affordable for low income and minority populations.

Independence Institute comments to CDPHE on Clean Power Plan implementation in Colorado

Thanks to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for holding this event.

A few comments for the agency to consider.

First, in your December 2014 comments, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, and the Colorado Energy Office all maintained that ‘In Colorado, the PUC has exclusive statutory authority to regulate the IOUs and associated electric resource decisions’ and that ‘depending upon the plan elements proposed by Colorado, legislation may be needed to clarify or direct state agencies on their respective roles and authorities’–and since no legislation appears to have clarified this point, how do you expect to proceed?

Second, the state’s top law enforcement official Attorney General Cynthia Coffman believes the CPP to be overreach and has joined more than one dozen other states suing the EPA to stop the CPP. The EPA has even said in its brief in response to petitions for extraordinary writ in the D.C. Circuit:

“…if a state believes it appropriate to do so, it could defer much of the planning effort until judicial review is complete. The initial submittal requires substantially less than a state plan.”

We are pleased to hear today that this advisement has been acknowledged and that CDPHE will take the maximum time allowed.

Third, we hope that you include more input from citizens and ratepayers, the most important stakeholders in the state. A recent Magellan poll revealed 59% of Colorado voters want to WAIT for all legal challenges to be completed BEFORE Colorado complies and the EPA says that’s okay. So it seems prudent to wait for legal challenges to be completed. In the meantime we shouldn’t be planning compliance but rather studying what the CPP’s impact on the economy and Colorado’s working family, low income and minorities in a fair and open way. We need to know the full impact of the estimated $600 additional cost per year per Colorado family for no measurable impact on emissions.

In that light, we wonder how Colorado will remain committed to ensuring reliable and affordable electricity if it pushes forward with a plan without allowing legal challenges to be resolved?

Thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of Colorado citizens and ratepayers. We appreciate CDPHE’s process and support an open, transparent stakeholder process subject to relevant legislation.

July 30 Colorado Energy Roundup: Clean Power Plan extension expected; a new Sagebrush Rebellion?

The Clean Power Plan’s timeline for compliance may see an extension, and the final rule itself may be revealed next Monday:

The final version of President Obama’s signature climate change policy is expected to extend an earlier timeline for states to significantly cut planet-warming pollution from power plants, according to people familiar with the plan.

If enacted, the climate change plan, the final version of which is expected to be unveiled as early as Monday, could stand as the most significant action ever taken by an American president to curb global warming. But some environmental groups have cautioned that a later deadline for states to comply could make it tougher for the United States to meet Mr. Obama’s climate change pledges on the world stage.

The plan consists of three major environmental regulations, which combined are intended to drastically cut emissions of greenhouse gases. The rules take aim at coal-fired power plants, the largest source of greenhouse emissions, and are intended to spur a transformation of the nation’s power sector from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as wind and solar. Under the rules, the Environmental Protection Agency would require states to draft plans to lower emissions from power plants. The agency is also expected to issue its own model of a state-level plan, to be imposed on states that refuse to draft their own plans.

The final rules would extend the timeline for states and electric utilities to comply, compared with a draft proposal put forth by the E.P.A. in June last year, according to people who are familiar with the plan but who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about it.

The Independence Institute’s backgrounder on the Clean Power Plan and its devastating effects on our energy choice and enormous costs to taxpayers and the economy in general can be found here.

***

Much of the public land in the Rocky Mountain west is administered not by the states but by the federal government all the way from DC–and the debate over who should ultimately preside over these vast swathes of federal land has seen a resurgence:

Not since the Sagebrush Rebellion in 1979 has the debate over whether it’s time for federal lands to fall to states’ control gained such attention, and the anti-federal-government sentiment and talking points aren’t likely to dissipate as the West heads toward the next presidential election.

The fight stirred in 2012 when the Utah legislature passed the Transfer of Public Lands Act to demand authority over millions of acres of federal land by last New Year’s Eve. It didn’t happen.

Eight states cumulatively considered 30 bills around the issue this year. In March, Republicans in the U.S. Senate passed, without a single Democratic vote, a symbolic resolution in support of transferring or trading land to states. The resolution, though, doesn’t give Congress or any federal agency additional power to make deals.

And in the last Colorado legislative session there were three bills around the subject. Only one passed. House Bill 1225, a bipartisan bill supported by environmental groups, strengthens communities’ position in saying how local federal lands are managed.

Opponents of devolving control of public lands to the states cite the enormous costs of maintaining them, arguing states are not prepared to shoulder the added burden of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual upkeep.

For example, a single wildfire could cripple Colorado, said Governor John Hickenlooper’s advisor:

The federal government also picks up the costs for wildfires on federal lands. But just one massive wildfire in Colorado — a state that can have several in one year — could obliterate the state budget, said John Swartout, a Republican who is Hickenlooper’s top policy adviser on land, wildlife and conservation issues.

“The solution is constructive engagement,” Swartout said. “Are we always going to be happy with all the decisions? No. But we’re going to get a lot farther helping create the final solution.”

More than 1/3 of Colorado is subject to federal jurisdiction. Whether or not the debate develops into a political conflagration or peters out in favor of other issues remains to be seen, but expect energy producers and environmental activists to keep a close eye on how the narrative proceeds.

***

WildEarth Guardians won’t hesitate to launch a legal battle, as a recent look at the group’s lawsuit filings shows:

Though a relatively small organization with only 26 people on staff, WildEarth Guardians’ litigious nature has established the environmental advocacy group as a dominant voice in the national debate about environmental policy.

From 2010 to present, Guardians have initiated a total of 152 cases in federal district courts and 55 in the Circuit Court of Appeals for a total of 207 cases. In 2010 alone they filed 61 claims — an average of about one per week.

However, Guardians’ pervasiveness in the courts has not gone without criticism.

In a 2012 analysis of WildEarth Guardians’ legal activity, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity claimed that Guardians has been “misusing the judicial system, exploiting poorly-written laws and taking advantage of taxpayers to pursue a narrow, litigation-driven, special interest agenda.”

For Coloradans, especially those in Craig and surrounding areas, lawsuits from the group have drawn the ire of residents and businesses for favoring costly litigation as a first-stop solution:

Lee Boughey, senior manager of corporate communications and public affairs for Tri-State, said in a statement that the courts should not be a first resort.

“Environmental policy, regulations and law should be set by state legislatures and Congress, and based on sound science, a thorough cost-benefit analysis and appropriate timeframes for implementation. These are difficult issues, and it is a far better for all stakeholders to commit to work together to develop sound regulatory policy that take these consideration into account, as opposed to running straight to the courts,” he said.

The group remains adamant, saying, the “legal system is oftentimes the last recourse of justice for interests and peoples that have been marginalized or whose issues haven’t been heard.”

In the case of Colowyo Mine, the marginalized appear to be the local residents, workers, and communities.

***

A pair of energy-related ballot measures will appear in November in Boulder, including a Climate Action tax:

Boulder officials also want to ask voters to extend the portion of the utility occupation tax on energy bills that replaces Xcel Energy’s franchise fee and provides roughly $4.1 million to the city’s general fund each year. It is not the portion of the tax that funds analysis and legal efforts toward municipalization, which is not on the ballot. The municipal energy utility would also have to pay a similar amount into the general fund, but that utility may not be up and running by 2017, when the tax expires. The proposed ballot measure would extend the tax through 2022.

The Climate Action Plan tax, which funds energy-efficiency programs and solar rebates, will also appear on the ballot. That tax expires in March 2018, and city leaders believe the programs ultimately will be paid for out of utility rates. However, that won’t be possible until the utility is up and running. The proposed ballot measure would extend the tax through March 2023 so that those programs could continue regardless of progress on the municipal utility.

Kansas pushes back against EPA Clean Power Plan, changes state renewables mandate to voluntary

Unlike Colorado’s failed attempt to provide state oversight to proposed Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” regulations, Kansas’ legislature has passed requirements for any CPP state implementation plan, including no plan at all, should it conflict with ongoing litigation against the EPA’s power to bring forth the CPP:

Kansas governor Sam Brownback (R) signed a bill setting parameters for how the state complies with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan.

The bill, HB 2233, requires state agencies responsible for drafting a state implementation plan (SIP) to examine potential electricity rate impacts that may arise from complying with the EPA rule to address CO2 emissions from existing power plants. The law mandates that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment identify ways to avoid unreasonable costs under a best system of emissions reductions, which may include emissions trading or emissions averaging across the generation fleet. Brownback signed the bill into law on 28 May.

The law creates an oversight committee of state lawmakers that will track the progress of and vote on the SIP. The Clean Power Plan Implementation Study Committee will run from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2017.

Like other states such as New Mexico, Kansas state agencies have called the EPA’s CPP into question, “citing concerns over its legality, federal overreach into grid reliability and a limited timeline for implementation.”

Those concerns have prompted Kansas to join other state attorneys general in legal challenges targeting EPA’s ability to bring forth regulations like those under the CPP:

Attorney general Derek Schmidt (R) is among 19 state attorneys general who have called on EPA to withdraw its proposed CO2 standards for new power plants, and the state is participating in two lawsuits challenging the Clean Power Plan proposal.

The new law allows state regulators to not submit a plan if the attorney general determines that such a plan would conflict with Kansas’ legal position in current or pending legal challenges against the rule.

In testifying for Colorado’s Electricity Consumers’ Protection Act (SB 258), attorney Mike Nasi outlined possible legal objections to the EPA’s proposed rules.

Colorado’s SB 258 would have tasked the Public Utilities Commission, with input from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, as well as approval from the state legislative body, with creating a CPP SIP for the state that considered costs and required a full, public, and deliberative process rather than unilateral executive agency rulemaking from CDPHE under the Governor John Hickenlooper’s direction.

With the defeat of the bill, Governor Hickenlooper announced that, unlike Kansas’ measured approach, Colorado would capitulate to the EPA’s CPP and push forward with state implementation.

***

Colorado environmentalists and renewable energy advocates enjoy touting other states’ efforts on issues including renewable energy standards and renewable subsidies.

But this year, Kansas modified its RES, making the mandate a “voluntary goal”:

Kansas governor Sam Brownback (R) yesterday signed into law a bill converting the state’s renewable energy standard to a voluntary goal.

The bill, SB 91, replaces the state’s standard, which required 20pc renewable energy use by 2020, with a voluntary target on the same timetable. SB 91 also exempts existing renewable energy facilities in the state, mostly wind farms, from property taxes and gives new renewable energy facilities a 10-year property tax exemption.

Wind accounted for 21.7pc of Kansas’ generation mix in 2014, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
….
While the bill was supported by some state wind industry and business groups, environmentalists have criticized it, saying it should have at least called for a higher voluntary goal to give utilities “something to aspire to.”

In a free market, utilities and others involved with energy production will voluntarily move to where the market leads–they will “aspire to” serve their customers with an energy fuel mix that best suits the state’s and individual utility’s needs and consumer’s wants.

Government should not be picking energy or electricity winners and losers, and moving from a legal mandate to voluntary guidelines is a step in the right direction for free market energy, as is limiting a property tax exemption from permanent to a sunset at 10 years.

June 11 Colorado Energy Roundup–Battle brewing over possible Colorado mine closure; Rep. Polis keeps options open on anti-fracking ballot measures

New Belgium Brewing Company has long touted its environmental sensitivity as part of its corporate culture and marketing–featuring its commitment to sustainability and other environmental goals prominently on its web page and in press releases and other materials.

But that support, and past funding of radical environmental groups, has drawn the ire of another Colorado business and its supporters on Colorado’s western slope, who face shutdown of the nearby Colowyo Coal Mine because of the exact policies fostered by their Front Range counterparts.

In other words, the brewery may have finally blown a (fat) tire on its way to greener pastures and killing fellow Colorado businesses and jobs:

Craig — Liquor stores and restaurants across Craig are pulling Colorado craft beers off their shelves due to the beer companies’ financial support to WildEarth Guardians, the environmental group that put Colowyo Coal Mine at risk of being shutdown.

Stockmen’s Liquor pulled 12 brands of beer — including New Belgium Brewery — because they are listed as WildEarth Guardians supporters.

“We pulled those beers because their support of WildEarth Guardians… who said their ultimate goal is to shut down coal mines,” said Lori Gillam, owner of Stockmen’s. “Craig is a coal mine town.”

WildEarth Guardians has a list of business supporters on its website, and New Belgium and Breckenridge Brewery are among their backers. Yet, after this story was published, the WildEarth Guardians removed the list of supporters off of its website. However, readers can view the cached website by clicking here.

Advised of the brewing Craig brouhaha over its support of WEG, New Belgium released this statement:

“At New Belgium Brewing, we support non-profit partners who advocate for healthy watersheds. Wild Earth Guardians first contacted New Belgium in 2008 seeking grant money for restoration projects along the Colorado River. We supported these efforts because Colorado businesses, residents and the environment are dependent upon sound water management,” according to the press release. “Specific to any work Wild Earth Guardians has done regarding the ColoWyo and Trapper mines, we were unaware of it at the time and that is outside the scope of our grant allocations. We have no further funding pending at this time.”

But this measured and somewhat distancing response strays from previous environmental forays for the company, who helped sponsor “Frack Free Colorado” and an anti-fracking rally in 2012, among other anti-fracking activities.

New Belgium started a political action committee in 2014 to help candidates it believed furthered environmental policies the company supported.

But this battle has just begun. More than 900 residents in northwest Colorado gathered to hear what the closure of the coal mine might mean:

U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson gave the federal Office of Surface Mining 120 days to bring the permit into compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, a time frame that left company and state officials flabbergasted.

“I believe that public involvement and compliance with NEPA are fundamental to federal agencies like OSM making informed decisions concerning federal resources,” said Colorado Department of Natural Resources director Mike King on Monday in a statement.

“However, the court has provided an unrealistically short timeframe to remedy a complicated NEPA process; threatening a mine shut-down on a federal permitting decision that has been in place for eight years and that Colowyo has been implementing during that time is an unacceptable result,” he said.

King said the state is weighing legal options, including joining a Tri-State appeal of the judge’s order and request for a stay. If granted, a stay would allow the mine to remain open until the appeals process is concluded.

Without that, it’s possible the mine could be forced to close after 120 days, putting at risk the livelihoods of Colowyo’s 220 employees as well as the region’s locally owned businesses supported indirectly by the mine.

It was a lawsuit by WildEarth Guardians that prompted Judge Jackson’s May 8 decision.

Moffat County liquor store owner Lori Gillam told The Colorado Statesman that the brewing companies supported WildEarth Guardians have been removed from her store’s shelves.

“I have 12 holes on my shelves right now because of them supporting WildEarth Guardians,” Gillam told the Statesman.

“WildEarth Guardians has said they want to ban coal — they want it gone — and we’re a coal-mining town. It’s important for us to support the people who support us and not the people who want to destroy our community,” Gillam said.

We’ve included the entire list of WildEarth Guardians’ corporate supporters, in addition to the link above, in case the cached version is removed.

***

Despite Governor John Hickenlooper’s attempts to downplay any possible fracking measures on 2015 local ballots or the 2016 November election, Democratic Congressman Jared Polis (R-CO) has not sounded the death knell for any possible anti-fracking proposals in the near future, and given his position in sponsoring a large number of those scuttled in 2014, may have more of an influence than the governor:

Boulder Congressman Jared Polis, who backed the ballot proposals and then agreed to remove them a year ago, says it’s too early to say what might be proposed for the 2016 Colorado ballot.

“Given the pending Fort Collins and Longmont lawsuits that will hopefully confirm local authority to regulate fracking, and that we are 18 months out from the 2016 election, I can no more predict whether a ballot initiative is needed or would be viable in 2016 than I can predict who is going to win the World Series that year,” Polis told the Daily Camera. “But if the governor is clairvoyant, I’d love to schedule a trip to Vegas with him soon.”

Polis sees more uncertainty in the outcomes of the Fort Collins and Longmont appeals than we do. A Boulder County judge overturned Longmont’s fracking ban last July. A Larimer County judge overturned Fort Collins’ five-year fracking moratorium in August. Everywhere it has contested such community actions, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association has won, citing preemption by the state, which “fosters” oil and gas development by statute.

The Boulder Daily Camera editorial concludes that Hickenlooper’s “declaration of surrender” on fracking is, the editorial board hopes, “premature.”

Only a few people like Polis–who has the desire and the dollars to make ballot measures happen–know more about possible anti-fracking measures than the governor.

And for now, it appears the Congressman is keeping all options on the table.

***

WildEarth Guardians would like to thank the following businesses for generously supporting our work. If you would like to be added to our “Businesses for Guardians” webpage, please contact us today and learn how!

Advantage Energy Solutions, LLC, Corrales, New Mexico
Agua Fria Nursery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Altitude Salon, Englewood, Colorado
Andiamo!, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Arizona Cyclist, Tucson, Arizona
Arizona Nature Aquatics, Tucson, Arizona
Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona
Ark Bookstore, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Armendaris Ranch, New Mexico
Armstrong McCall Of Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Arrows and Eskers, Los Angeles, CA
Art For Transformation, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Artichoke Café, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Asian Adobe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Asian Palate, Buena Vista, Colorado
Aspen Websites, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Atrisco Café and Bar, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ava Morris Pottery, Tesuque, New Mexico
Avanyu At La Posada, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Aveda – Rachel Thompson, Denver, Colorado
Aveda Park Meadows, Littleton, Colorado
Aventouras, Evergreen, Colorado
Avery Brewing Co, Boulder, Colorado
Baca St Yoga, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bacco Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar, Boulder, Colorado
Bahti Indian Arts, Tucson, Arizona
Banfi Vintners, Glen Head, New York
Bank of the West, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Barb’s Frame of Mind, Tucson, Arizona
Baroness Wine Distributor, Denver, Colorado
Beadweaver, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bear Mountain Lodge, Silver City, New Mexico
Beauty & The Beads, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bellaluca Café Italiano, Truth or Consequence, New Mexico
Benihana, Denver, Colorado
Bernard Ewell Fine Arts Appraisals, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Betty’s Bath And Day Spa, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bhakti Chai, Boulder, Colorado
Big Sky Community Corporation, Big Sky, Montana
Bike Coop, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bike’n’sport, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bill’s European Auto Repair, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bioneers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bioshield Paint Co, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bird’s Eye View GIS, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bishop’s Lodge, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bittersweet Designs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Black Mesa Winery, Velarde, New Mexico
Black Range Lodge, Kingston, New Mexico
Blue Canyon Gallery, Magdalena, New Mexico
Blue Corn Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Blue Willow Restaurant, Tucson, Arizona
Chaine Pena Business Body

“We support WildEarth Guardians because we believe in a wild world that supports all wild creatures.” ~ Chaine Pena, Boutique Specialist and Yoga Teacher at BODY Santa Fe

BODY of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Bolder World, Boulder, Colorado
Bookworks, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Boulder Beer Company, Boulder, Colorado
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, Boulder, Colorado
Boulder Spa, Boulder, Colorado
Boulder Theater, Boulder, Colorado
Boulderado Hotel, Boulder, Colorado
Bounce Back Integrative Veterinary Rehabilitation, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Breckenridge Brewing Co, Denver, Colorado
Brian Cobble Etchings, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Briar Rose Bed And Breakfast, Boulder, Colorado
Bright Funds, San Francisco, California
Broken Saddle Riding Co, Cerrillos, New Mexico
Broken Spoke, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Brooklyn Pizza Company, Tucson, Arizona
Buffalo Thunder Resort, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Buglet Solar, Golden, Colorado
Bumble Bee’s Baja Grill, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Butterfly Thai Yoga, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cafe Cafe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Café Castro, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Café Dominic, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cafe Marcel, Tucson, Arizona
Cafe Pasqual’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Captain Marble, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cardrageous, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Caring Clinic, Boulder, Colorado
Carole LaRoche Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Casa Benavides, Taos, New Mexico
Casa De Brio Equestrian Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Casa De Estrellas, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Casa Natura, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Casa Nova, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cate Moses Public Relations, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Celestial Massage, Denver, Colorado
Celtic Jewelry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Center For Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
CG Higgins Confections, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chapare, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chapelle Street Casitas, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Charmed Planet Photography, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cheesecake Factory, Boulder, Colorado
Cherry Creek Shopping Center, Denver, Colorado
Chile Shop, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chocolate Maven, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Chocolate Smith, Santa Fe, New Mexico
ChoLon, Denver, Colorado
Christine Loizeaux, Santa Barbara, California
Christy’s Sports, Denver, Colorado
Church of Satin, Tucson, Arizona
Cibolo Nature Center, Boerne, Texas
Cid’s Food Market, Taos, New Mexico
Circo Vino, Tucson, Arizona
City O’ City, Denver, Colorado
Clafoutis, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Claire Haye Gallery, Arroyo Seco, New Mexico
Clayworks, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cleopatra Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Collected Works Bookstore, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Colorado Ballet, Denver, Colorado
Colorado Hot Air Balloon, Dillon, Colorado
Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, Divide, Colorado
Comedy Works, Denver, Colorado
Common Era, Boulder and Denver, Colorado
Communications Infrastructure Inc., Stevensville, MT
Confluence Kayak, Denver, Colorado
Connolly Ranch, Napa, California
Conservation Photography, Fort Collins, Colorado
Contemporary Driftwood Furniture, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Corks The Wine Store, Denver, Colorado
Corrales Solar, Corrales, NM
Cosbar, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Costume Salon, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cottonwood Printing, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Counter Culture, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cowgirl Hall of Fame, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Creativity For Peace, Glorieta, New Mexico
Critters and Me, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cupcake Clothing, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cupcakeology, La Vernia, Texas
Daily Grind, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Daisy Paw, Louisville, Colorado
Davis Therapeutic Massage, Denver, Colorado
DDC Freight Processing Outsourcing LLC, Evergreen, Colorado
Dean Allan Design, Denver, Colorado
Debbie DiCarlo, Richfield, Ohio
DecorAsian, Longmont, Colorado
Deer Hammer Distillery, Buena Vista, Colorado
Delectables, Tucson, Arizona
Dell Fox Jewelry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dennis Conner’s America’s Cup Experience, San Diego, California
Denver Bike Sharing, Denver, Colorado
Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado
Denver Film Society, Denver, Colorado
Denver Museum of Science and Nature, Denver, Colorado
Denver Urban Homesteading, Denver, Colorado
Denver Zoological Foundation, Denver, Colorado
Desert Bloom Florist, Portsmouth, Rhode Island
Desert Dwellers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Design Training Collaborative, Placitas, New Mexico
Dickey’s BBQ, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Dinner For Two, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Direct Power And Water Corporation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Dirty Dawgs, Tucson, Arizona
Doodlets, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dublin Square, San Diego, California
Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Durango, Colorado
Durango Cyrus Café, Durango, Colorado
Dust in the Wind, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dusty Dog Ranch, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Earthship Biotechture, Taos, New Mexico
East by Southwest, Durango, Colorado
Ecco Espresso Gelato, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eddie Bauer First Ascent, Bellevue, Washington
Eden Medispa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Dorado Hotel & Spa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Farol, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Meson, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Meze, Taos, New Mexico
El Monte Sagrado, Taos, New Mexico
El Rancho De Las Golondrinas, Santa Fe, New Mexico
El Tesoro Cafe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eldora Mountain Resort, Nederland, Colorado
Eldorado Country Pet, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eldorado Physical Therapy, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Elevation Coffee, Taos, New Mexico
Emerald Earth, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Emily Branden Creations, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Envision, Boulder, Colorado
Eric Reinemann Artist, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ernesto Mayans Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eskimo Ski And Board Shop, Centennial, Colorado
eTown, Boulder, Colorado
Evolve Fitness, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Eye Candy Graphics, Denver, Colorado
Fair Wheel Bikes, Tucson, Arizona
Fair Laundromat, Tucson, Arizona
Far Flung Adventures, El Prado, New Mexico
Farfel’s Farm, Boulder, Colorado
Farina Pizzeria and Wine Bar, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Fast Frames of LoDo, Denver, Colorado
Fat Tire Cycles, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Feathered Friends, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Findley Lake Nature Center, Findley Lake, New York
Fine Art Framers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Firebusters, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Flagstaff Sports Exchange, Flagstaff, Arizona
Food Conspiracy Co-op, Tucson, Arizona
Foreign Traders, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Foundation For Deep Ecology, San Francisco, California
Four Seasons Encantado Resort, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Four Star Tattoo, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Fourth World Cottage Industry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Frame of Mind, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Frame Shop of Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
Frog Works, Littleton, Colorado
Fuego Baseball of the Pecos League, Houston, Texas
Gaiam Living, Boulder, Colorado
Gale Gotto Fine Art Photography, Golden, Colorado
Galloway Images, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Garcia St. Books, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Gathering Of the Nations Miss Indian World, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Gauchezco Vineyards, Mendoza, Argentina
Gearing Up!, Taos, New Mexico
Gelato Benissimo, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico
Gila House Hotel/ Gallery 400, Silver City, New Mexico
Glacier Club, Durango, Colorado
Glenna Goodacre Studios, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Gold Hill Inn, Boulder, Colorado
Goodman Realty Group, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Gorge Bar and Grill, Taos, New Mexico
Grand Imperial Hotel, Silverton, Colorado
Grand Rabbits Toy Shoppe, Boulder, Colorado
Great Divide Brewing Co, Denver, Colorado
Great Frame Up, Boulder, Colorado
Great Old Broads For Wilderness, Durango, Colorado
Great Southwest Adventures, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Gregory Sellars Window Cleaning, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Grove Market & Café, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Guadalupe Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Guadalupano Imports, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Gulf Restoration Network, New Orleans, Louisiana
Gypsy Jewel, Boulder, Colorado
Haagen Dazs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hacienda Nicholas, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hair, Mind And Body, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Haircut Place, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar, Boulder, Colorado
Harbor Court Hotel, San Francisco, California
Harp of the Spirit, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Harry’s RoadHouse, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hazel & Dewey, Denver, Colorado
Heart Gallery of New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Heath Concerts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Herb Store, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Herbs Etc., Santa Fe, New Mexico
Heritage Hotels And Resorts, Albuquerque, New Mexico
High Desert Healthcare & Massage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
High Desert Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
High Finance Restaurant, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hiland Frames, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Himalayas Restaurant, Boulder, Colorado
Holland Marketing—Out of Africa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Holly In Hanoi, Boulder, Colorado
Hotel Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
House of Commons Tea Room, Denver, Colorado
Houston Wholesale Cars LLC, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hutton Broadcasting, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Hydro Flask, Bend, Oregon
Ice House Lodge, Telluride, Colorado
Il Piatto, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ima Glass Studio, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Imbibe, Albuquerque, New Mexico
In Transit, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Incana Designs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
India Palace, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Inn And Spa At Loretto, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Inn At Cherry Creek, Denver, Colorado
Inn At Sunrise Springs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Inn of The Anasazi, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Inn on the Alameda, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Insight Construction, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Insituto De Ecologia Unam, Mexico
I-Scoot, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Isleta Eagle Golf Course, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Jack Hadley Music, Boulder, Colorado
Jackson Hole Conservaton Alliance, Jackson, Wyoming
Jambo Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jazzercise, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jemez Springs Bath House, Jemez Springs, New Mexico
Jess Alford Photography, Tijeras, New Mexico
Jewel Mark, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Jinja Bar & Bistro, Santa Fe, New Mexico
John Fielder’s Colorado, Denver, Colorado
Jon Paul Gallery, S. Lake Tahoe, California
Joni Bilderback, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Joseph Thomas Colorado Images, Colorado
Kanon Collective, Denver, Colorado
Kathy Olshefsky, Artist, Lamy, New Mexico
Katydid Books and Music, Jerome, Arizona
Kelli Brown, Artist, San Antonio, Texas
Kendall Mountain Café, Silverton, Colorado
Keshi, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Keva Juice, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Keystone Prairie Dogs, Auburn, Washington
Kimpton Hotels, San Francisco, California
Kioti, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Kip’s Grill & Cantina, Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Kokopelli Rafting Adventure, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Kristen Olsen, Artist, Denver, Colorado
La Boca, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Casa Sena, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Cocina de Luz, Telluride, Colorado
LaKind Dental Group, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Mesa of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Montañita Coop, Albuquerque, New Mexico
La Posada, Santa Fe, New Mexico
La Siringitu Cafe, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Lara Nickel, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Laroche Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Larry’s Hats and Antiques, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Lars Strong, Artist, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Late Nite Grafix, Inc., Santa Fe, New Mexico
Laughing Lizard Inn and Cafe, Jemez, New Mexico
Lawrene Huff, Artist, Kamogawa-Shi
Le Bon Voyage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Leanin Tree Museum, Boulder, Colorado
Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Lexus of Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Linson’s Design Source, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Liquid Light Glass, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Living Light Gallery, Taos, New Mexico
Los Poblanos Organics, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Los Rios River Runners, Taos, New Mexico
Lucille’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Lumenscapes, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Lyric Brick Company, Jamestown, Colorado
Madame M’s Enchanted Parlor, Taos, New Mexico
Mandrill’s Gym, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway Co., Manitou Springs, Colorado
Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Marja Custom Catering, Santa Fe, New Mexico

“We support WildEarth Guardians because we believe in protecting New Mexico’s wild animals and the Rio Grande.” ~ Mark Gonzales, Mark Pardo Salon Spa in Albuquerque

Mark Pardo Salon Spa, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mark White Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Marsello Brushwork, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Massage Therapist Debra Kopp, Boulder, Colorado
Massage Therapist – Valerie Baldovi, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Masterful Mosaics, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mavrick Lobe, Massage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Maya, Santa Fe, New Mexico
McGuckin Hardware, Boulder, Colorado
Mediterranean Restaurant, Boulder, Colorado
Mercury Cafe, Denver, Colorado
Mercury Framing, Boulder, Colorado
Michael Thomas Coffee Roasters, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, New Mexico
Mira, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Mojave West, Sausalito, California
Mouthfuls, Denver, Colorado
Museum Hill Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Nancy Bazar, Artist, Seattle, Washington
Nancy Brown Custom Jeweler, Santa Fe, New Mexico
National Association of Broadcasters, Washington, DC
National Distributing Company, Albuquerque, New Mexico
National Ecological Observation Network, Boulder, Colorado
Nature’s Own, Boulder, Colorado
Nevad Wier, Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, Colorado
New Mexico Biopark Society, Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Mexico Family Chiropractic, Santa Fe, New Mexico
New Mexico Technet, Albuquerque, New Mexico
New Planet Beer Co, Boulder, Colorado
New Rochester Hotel, Durango, Colorado
New Sheridan Hotel, Telluride, Colorado
New York Deli, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Night Sky Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Nila Bindu Jewelry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ohori’s Coffee Roasters, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort, Ojo Caliente, New Mexico
Ojo Sarco Pottery, Chamisal, New Mexico
Old Wood, Las Vegas, New Mexico
Origins, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Orlando’s New Mexican Café, Taos, New Mexico
Osprey Packs, Cortez, Colorado
Osuna Nursery And Greenhouses, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Ouray Meyers, Artist, Taos, New Mexico
Outdoor Divas, Boulder, Colorado
Outside Magazine, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Paige Barton Jewelry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Paley Center For Media, New York, New York
Pamela Wilson, Occupational Therapist, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Pamoja Project, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pantry Restaurant, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Parlour Salon, Denver, Colorado
Parts Unknown, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pasta Jays, Boulder, Colorado
Patagonia, Denver, Colorado
Patagonia, Reno, NV
Paws & Claws Pet Salons, Tucson, Arizona
Payne’s Nurseries, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Peaceful Paws For Dogs, Boyceville, Wisconsin
Peas ‘n’ Pod, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pecos Valley Grassfed Beef, Ribera, New Mexico
Penny Weights, New Canaan, Connecticut
Pepper Pod Restaurant, Hudson, Colorado
Petco, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Peter Noom Carpentry, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Peyote Bird, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Peyton Wright Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Colorado
Photo Eye Books And Prints, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pierpont Cabinets, Lamy, New Mexico
Pink Fog Studies, Glendale, Colorado
Pizza Centro, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pizzaria Espiritu, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Planetarium At SF Community College, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Plants of the Southwest, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Plant Trees 4 Life, Aspen, Colorado
Posters of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Potomac Garage Solutions, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Prairie Dog Glass, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pranzo Italian Grill, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Proscape Landscape Management, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Prost Brewing, Denver, Colorado
Purple Adobe Lavendar Farm, Abiquiu, New Mexico
Purple Sage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Pyramid Cafe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
R. Mole Sculpture, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rancho De San Juan, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ray Rafiti Photography, Fort Collins, Colorado
RC Bicycles, Tucson, Arizona
Re-Threads, Taos, New Mexico
REI Boulder, Boulder, Colorado
REI Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rift Gallery, Rinconada, New Mexico
Rioja, Denver, Colorado
Riverbend Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Rock, Paper, Scissors Spa, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rodeo Plaza Flowers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Rooftop Pizzaria, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Root Down, Denver, Colorado
Rosebud Video Productions, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Running Hub, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sacred Geology, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Salon Del Mar, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Salsa Rueda, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Saltanah Dancers, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sam’s No 3 Diner, Denver, Colorado
Samuel Design Group, Santa Fe, New Mexico
San Francisco Street Bar & Grill, Santa Fe, New Mexico
San Isidro Permaculture, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sanctuary, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sanctuary Home, Denver, Colorado
Sandra Rhodes Crafts, New Haven, Connecticut
Santa Fe Baking Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Bar And Grill, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Basket Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Brewing Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Candle, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Computerworks, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Dry Goods, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Film Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Hemp, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Massage, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Mountain Adventures LLC, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Pedicabs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Permaculture, Inc, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Reporter, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Stoneworks, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe Sun Monthly, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santacafe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Schaffner Press, Tucson, Arizona
Scheinbaum & Russek Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Secret River Design, Washington DC
Sense Clothing, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Serac Adventure Films, Boulder, Colorado
Seventh Ray Skin Care, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Shake Foundation, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Shevek & Co. Restaurant, Silver City, New Mexico
Shiloh Pet Supply, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sierra Grande Lodge, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Silver Gate Lodging, Silver Gate, Montana
Silver Sun, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Silverton Mountain, Silverton, Colorado
Silver Sea Jewelry, Tucson, Arizona
Sister Hawk, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Six Directions Gallery, Taos, New Mexico
Ska Brewing, Durango, Colorado
Sky Bar, Tucson, Arizona
Smith Family Garden Luau, Kapaa, Hawaii
Smith Optics, Ketchum, Idaho
Snooze SouthGlenn, Centennial, Colorado
SOL Lingerie, Denver, Colorado
SOSF Bike Tours, San Francisco, California
Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre, Trinidad, Colorado
Southern Wine & Spirits of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Southwest Airlines Co, Dallas, Texas
Southwest Nordic Center, Taos, New Mexico
Spa Namaste, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Spears Horn Architects, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sprouts Farmer’s Market, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sputnik, Denver, Colorado
Square Root Salon, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Squeaky Clean Car Wash, Santa Fe, New Mexico
St. Julien Hotel, Boulder, Colorado
Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Starbucks, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Stella Luna, Taos, New Mexico
Stephanie Huerta, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Steve Wong, Dream Analysis, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Steven Lemle, Artist, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Stone Age Climbing Gym, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Stone Forest Inc, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Stray Dog Cantina, Taos, New Mexico
Studio Nia Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Studio Thrive Fitness, Denver, Colorado
Sweet Action Ice Cream, Denver, Colorado
Sweet Medicine Enterprises, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Syrup, Denver, Colorado
Taj Mahal Cuisine of India, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Taos Fly Shop, Taos, New Mexico
Taos Inn, Taos, New Mexico
Taos Mesa Brewing, El Prado, New Mexico
Taos Pilates Studio, El Prado, New Mexico
Taos Pueblo Tourism, Taos, New Mexico
Taos Ski Valley, Taos, New Mexico
Tattered Covers, Denver, Colorado
Teahouse, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Teca Tu, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Telluride Brewing Company, Telluride, Colorado
Telluride Mountainfilm, Telluride, Colorado
Telluride Ski and Golf Club, Telluride, Colorado
Telluride Sports, Telluride, Colorado
Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe, New Mexico
10th Mountain Division Huts, Aspen, Colorado
Terra Bella, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Terra Flora, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tesuque Glassworks, Tesuque, New Mexico
Thai Café, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Barber’s Shop, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Bike Coop, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Book Stop, Tucson, Arizona
The Golden Eye, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Lotus, Madrid, New Mexico
The MacSpa, Denver, Colorado
The Medwick Foundation, Tucson, Arizona
The Mining Exchange Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado
The Oxygen Spa, Silver Springs, Maryland
The Screen, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Shed, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Spanish Table, Santa Fe, New Mexico
The View Restaurant At The Historic Crags Lodge, Estes Park, Colorado
Theobroma Chocolatier, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Thirty Mile Resort, Lakewood, Colorado
Three Dog Bakery, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Thru the Lens, Durango, Colorado
Tia Sophia, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tierra Hermosa Pottery & Supply, Taos, New Mexico
Tohono Chul Park, Tucson, Arizona
Tom Bihn, Seattle, Washington
Tony Bonanno Photography, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tom Brady, Astrologer, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tomasita’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Touched by Flowers, Vero Beach, Florida
Trader Joe’s, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico
Trading Post Cafe, Ranchos De Taos, New Mexico
Tranquility Floatation Massage & Healing Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Trattoria Stella, Denver, Colorado
Travel Bug, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Tucson Herb Store, Tucson, Arizona
Tucson Thrift Shop, Tucson, Arizona
Twisted Pine Brewing Co, Boulder, Colorado
Uncharted Outposts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Veda Spa & Salon, Denver, Colorado
Video Library, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Vinaigrette, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Vine Street Pub & Brewery, Denver, Colorado
Visa-LANB, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Vital Yoga, Denver, Colorado
Wallaroo Hat Company, Boulder, Colorado
Walnut Room, Denver, Colorado
Walter Burke Catering, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wash Park Grille, Denver, Colorado
Watercourse Foods, Denver, Colorado
Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Avon, Colorado
Whole Foods, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Whoo’s Donuts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wild Animal Sanctuary, Keenesburg, Colorado
Wild Birds Unlimited, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wild Earth Llama Adventures, Taos, New Mexico
Wild Faces Wild Places Photography
Wileyware, Seattle, Washington
William Matthews Gallery, Denver, Colorado
Wines Off Wynkoop, Denver, Colorado
Wingswest Birding Tours, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wise Fool New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wolf Den Bed and Breakfast, Twin Lakes, Colorado
WolfHorse Outfitters, Gila and Aldo Leopold Wilderness, New Mexico
Woodhouse Day Spa, Denver, Colorado
Yin Yang Chinese Restaurant, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Yoganow, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Z2 Entertainment, Boulder, Colorado
Zaplin-Lampert Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Zen Dog Boutique, Denver, Colorado
Zia Diner, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Zoe Boutique, Tucson, Arizona
Zoe & Guido’s, Santa Fe, New Mexico

June 4 Energy Roundup: Hickenlooper vs. EPA, New Mexico enviro officials cast doubt on Clean Power Plan, and the return of ‘green’ billionaire Tom Steyer

June 4, 2015 by michael · Comments Off
Filed under: Archive, Environmental Protection Agency, Legislation, New Energy Economy, PUC 

The Independence Institute’s Amy Oliver Cooke will moderate a free panel on June 17 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, discussing the embattled Colowyo Coal Mine in northwest Colorado:

“The Coming Storm of Federal Energy Regulations and Their Impact on Colorado Business”

Are you concerned about the future of the Colowyo Coal Mine? Want to know more about costly new EPA regs on carbon and ozone??

Join our panel of experts to get the facts and get your questions answered.

WHEN: 5:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 17 (doors open at 5 p.m.; cash bar)

WHERE: Strings Music Pavilion, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

**FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC**

Questions? info@steamboatinstitute.org or (970) 846-6013

Moderator: Amy Oliver Cooke
Director, Energy Policy Center Independence Institute

94414057-8439-4f5c-94c2-9d7256bd5ad9

FORUM PANELISTS

588aabb9-5faa-4e26-a36c-3b80c2e6f27b
RAYMOND L. GIFFORD
Attorney/Partner, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP; former Chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission

330477aa-7040-4f37-9fb5-7be8895415ef
DAN BYERS
Senior Director of Policy, Institute for 21st Century Energy – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

70214157-cdc9-4aac-b28d-121d413c47b9
LEE BOUGHEY
Senior Manager of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs – Tri-State Generation & Transmission Assoc.

***

One of New Mexico’s leading environmental officials calls the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan’s scope–and legality–into question:

New Mexico environmental officials are among others in two dozen states pushing back against proposed federal restrictions on emissions from existing power plants. Without state support, the proposed Clean Power Plan won’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions the way the Obama administration hopes it will, according to a new report released by the nonprofit Brookings Institute.

When it comes to clean air, the federal government can set standards, but states decide how to enforce them. New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn, an attorney, is one of many environment officials across the country who think the rule has problems and may be illegal.

“We agree with the overall goal of the proposed Clean Power Plan,” said department spokeswoman Allison Majure in a statement. “However, we are also extremely concerned about the unprecedented breadth of the proposal.”

New Mexico’s comments on the CPP revealed a pattern of failing by the EPA to communicate with other agencies and states in crafting the proposed clean air regulations:

Majure added in her statement, “The Environmental Protection Agency is using the Clean Air Act, which was designed to control air pollution at the source, to dictate America’s energy policy for the next 20 years,” reflecting comments the department filed with the EPA regarding the rule months ago.

She also said the EPA failed to consult with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, energy producers and the Department of Energy in crafting the plan.

The full Brookings report in the article above can be viewed and downloaded here.

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State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-SD1) examines Gov. Hickenlooper’s capitulation to the EPA over implementing the Clean Power Plan:

While the letter between US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was the focus of the media, it’s a third letter dated December 1, 2014, from the heads of Colorado’s three environmental agencies to the EPA, which will impact Colorado’s three million business and residential utility customers. After 2017, those customers will likely be paying much higher prices as a result of mistakes and miscalculations made over the past year by state and federal officials.

icon_op_edSen. McConnell’s March 19 letter called on all 50 state governors to delay compliance with an EPA carbon-cutting plan until the legality of the plan has been settled in court. Thirteen states are suing to block the EPA plan on legal and constitutional grounds. Hickenlooper’s response, which some climate crusaders cheered as a brush-off of McConnell, indicated that Colorado intends to comply with EPA mandates, which the governor believes are legal.

The bottom line here is that Gov. Hickenlooper has been consistently inconsistent when dealing with recent regulatory onslaughts from Washington. For example, he’s been reasonably proactive in opposing a threatened species listing for the Sage Grouse, and he’s also been forceful in responding to the potential shut-down of the Colowyo coal mine near Craig. But on the EPA’s “climate change” agenda – and the new EPA rules further restricting the state’s control of small bodies of water — that healthy skepticism has been missing.

Indeed.

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Finally, former fossil fuel and hedge fund billionaire turned green crusader, Tom Steyer, appears to be doubling down on Colorado after a failed 2014 election cycle, as the folks from Energy In Depth report:

San Francisco billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer, who spent more than $7 million in a failed campaign to defeat U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) last year, is keeping his Colorado political operation in place. Campaign finance reports show Steyer’s campaign arm, NextGen Climate Action Committee, has spent more than $80,000 on polling and research in Colorado this year.

Steyer, whose foundation is known for writing large checks to green groups, is also strengthening his ties with environmental organizations in Colorado. This week, he will be in Denver to accept an award from Conservation Colorado. Dubbed “Colorado’s largest political event for the environment,” other attendees will include elected officials and leaders from the state’s environmental movement.

Last year, Steyer held talks with millionaire Boulder Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colo.) about splitting the cost of putting anti-fracking measures on the statewide ballot. Ultimately, those measures were pulled before they could reach the ballot, and Steyer chose instead to put his money behind a failed campaign against Gardner. Through it all, Steyer worked with “ban fracking” groups and national environmental organizations to effectively campaign against Colorado’s energy industry, its supporters, and tens of thousands of men, women and families whose livelihoods depend on the oil and natural gas sector. He lost badly, but Steyer is coming back for more.

We’ll have an update next week on Steyer’s visit, and if any of his comments during the Denver trip are made public.

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