The Green Cult Of Secrecy

Published on June 12, 2012 by
Evidently, to the environmental movement, transparency does not work both ways.
Case in point: at a “Uranium Confab” held in Moab UT a couple weeks back, speakers from various and sundry environmental groups provided the rustic looking crowd of about 30 with their take on how mining, uranium mining in particular, effects water, air, local communities, native culture and the like, and calls for reform, many centering on aggressive government action and increased transparency and public (meaning environmentalist) involvement in the permitting process, on the first day of their 2-day event. 
I’m not sure what was discussed the second day, as this roving journalist was asked quite pointedly not to come back to the meeting, held in a public room at the Moab Arts Center, on the second day.
Now, for the record, it was not because I was creating a disturbance; I did not leap up on a chair screaming “LIES, DAMN LIES!!” even when such behavior would be clearly warranted – I even suppressed snickers and politely refrained from rolling my eyes at the most egregious of statements. So for what offense was I cast out of this sanctum of environmental and community justice?
Why, I was not one of them, of course. The Sanctum of Environmental Justice is apparently a very exclusive club. Sort of like Skull and Bones, conspicuously absent the dress code, one supposes.
I was not only barred from the second day, however; earlier during the first day, there was a session entitled “The Colorado Model: Legal and Regulatory Strategies” put on by Travis Stills, managing Attorney for the Durango, CO Based firm Energy and Conservation Law, and Jeff Parsons, a lawyer for the Western Mining Action Project, and the lead attorney retained by Telluride’s Sheep Mountain Alliance in their quest to deny the residents of Western Montrose County a uranium mill. As I prepared a fresh page for notes and eagerly settled in to hear what these two had to impart, I was approached by Jennifer Thurston from the Information Network For Responsible Mining (INFORM), the emcee and chief organizer of the event, who asked who I was (I told her), and informed me that this particular session, and the strategy session at the end of the day, were not open to media, due to the “sensitive information” being disseminated.


For anyone who has watched these groups operate over the past several years, it is not too difficult to figure out what Sensitive Information might have been disseminated to this crowd of folks who harbored a hatred for mining, combs, and shaving cream. The Colorado Model is quite simple, really – find a proposed  mining , or other energy development, project that you do not want to see the light of day (that would be all of them); have attorneys pore over the applicable documents at each stage of the permitting process; find something, anything , to initiate a lawsuit over (legal standing means little since, thanks to the Equal Access to Justice Act, losing the lawsuit bears no financial burden); and once that lawsuit is settled, take your taxpayer-provided legal fees that you collect from the Government and find something else to sue the permit applicant over. Repeat until the energy company you have targeted simply gives up or moves on.
Since no one other than certified and vetted tree huggers were allowed to listen in, one presumes that these folks fear that this legal ruse might not be met with much laud from the masses who just are not sophisticated enough to fully embrace the cause of environmental justice.
At any rate, what I did hear was creepy enough. John Weisheit of the group “Living Rivers”, for instance, after speaking about what a horrible a piece of legislation the 2005 Energy Policy Act was for permitting some production of energy, and how the Colorado River was “already depleted – and now we are polluting what is left”, enlightened the captive crowd with what the real problem was – technological progress (“technology does not solve problems,” he said, “it creates them”; I almost began to feel sorry for him and several audience members, burdened as they were by their problematic cell phones and laptops) – and, chillingly, the suggested solution: “We have to, yes, look at population control.”
Now, I for one tend to get nervous when I hear people with an affection for using the state to achieve their ends talking about “population control”.
The next session was a panel discussion involving several Native American speakers from groups including the Sierra Club, Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, and the Eastern Navajo Dine Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM) (For the record, “Dine”, besides providing an excuse to use a nice connective consonant in the acronym, means “people” in the Navajo language). During this session I was introduced to the term “environmental racism”, which I gathered to mean that if you support economic development on or near native land, then you clearly hate natives.
Among their other gripes, however, was the hint that not all the tribal members were in lockstep with their acronymned brothers and sisters, as one of the complaints was of divided communities. Apparently some of the Dine have been beguiled by the white oppressor’s jobs, wealth, material improvement and economic opportunity. Perhaps they simply need sister Elizabeth Warren to come out and reacquaint them with the subtleties of their shared culture.
I also learned that one of the strategies these particular groups intend to use to try and halt the uranium industry involves filing a brief with the inter-American Commission on Human Rights, on the grounds that these facilities amount to a violation of the basic human right to drinking water. Getting an international body to intervene is the natural follow up step when domestic processes do not generate the desired outcome. Watch for Occupy Wisconsin to petition the U.N. to send a special envoy to Madison in short order.
Following an actually somewhat interesting presentation on an Assessment of Radionuclides from the existing White Mesa mill (and the entertaining questions which desperately sought to validate preconceived notions of negligence and rampant polluting, disappointingly not really verified in any way by the presentation), came another captivating panel discussion with Robert Tohe from the Sierra Club, Bradley Angel from Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice (where do they come up with these names?) and Jeri Fry from Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste Inc. The session was meant to focus on impacts to local communities at each stage of a uranium mill’s life, but much of the discussion centered on how to handle the inconvenient dilemma of these horrid facilities actually creating jobs and improving the economy.
The answers were… interesting. One panel member suggested that they need to convince the locals that uranium mills are worse than unemployment. Ms Fry, discussing the trouble with navigating the issue that many local residents strongly support the mines and the mill, characterized the problem as being one of “small minded people exhibiting small minded thinking”. There followed statements of how the industry “captures” local communities with such nefarious deeds as funding hospitals and community centres (the bastards).
Their recommended tacks to combat this odious jobs and opportunity message include focusing on vague and unsupported future costs (health concerns, clean up, etc), and to suggest that massive government funded efforts to clean up old mining sites (to be shut down by government funded efforts) will be a prime job creator in the west for years to come. And, of course, their Holy Grail – a renewed push for subsidized wind and solar jobs (no, there was no mention of how solar panels would be constructed without first being able to mine the raw materials. Stop obfuscating the issue, you environmental racist.)
At this point in the proceedings, I was approached by Ms Thurston for a second time, who was “very curious” as to who exactly I was. I reiterated that I was a freelance journalist covering an event that came across my desk, which seemed to have local implications. She appeared rather indignant that I had not registered with her beforehand, as required by the First Amendment (right?) She intimated that this was an invite-only gathering, which I pointed out was odd since it had been advertised on the radio, and that in any case, I had received an email inviting me to it. She muttered something and strode off. 
I should point out that Ms Thurston’s less-friendly demeanor occurred shortly after a member of the Grand Junction-based left-enviro organization Western Colorado Congress recognized me. It could be a coincidence.
The final (for me) session was the most interesting; a presentation by Lauren Pagel, the Policy Director for EARTHWORKS, in from Washington D.C. She outlined the legislative goal of these groups – to do away with the 1872 mining law, seen as an obstacle along the approach to their ultimate goal of stopping mining. To that end she mentioned some bills that she thought were just great; Rep. Heinrich’s (D-NM) H.R. 1452 for instance, the Uranium Resources Stewardship Act, which, in a nutshell, would change the mine leasing process in such a way that instead of mining companies deciding where and how to mine, that task would be left with federal land managers (generally the BLM). The only problem with this, that Ms. Pagel saw, was that the BLM does not always hold the environmentalist’s concerns properly front and center, and might therefore sometimes actually approve a mine.
She also mentioned legislation that terrifies the anti-development crowd, specifically Rep. Amodei’s (R-NV) National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act, HR 4402. Not only would this bill streamline the permitting process, but would enact some much-needed reforms to the Equal Access to Justice Act, actually making it so that obstructivist groups could not bilk the taxpayers for their legal fees when employing the Colorado Model. 
(Now may be a good time to stop what you are doing and write or call your Congressman and Senators, and urge them firmly but politely, to do everything in their earthly power to see that this bill passes. Immediately. This will be here when you get back.) 
The bottom line is that the environmental movement, as they openly stated in Moab, does not want mining. Any mining. Or any other fossil fuel. Or nuclear power. Ever. Period. And they are not only willing, but eager to use the state and taxpayer dollars – private wealth, often generated in no small part, directly or indirectly, by the energy development they so vehemently oppose – to shut it all down, regardless of the economic consequences.
It is little wonder that they want to keep that secret.
 
(This article can also be seen on Americans For Prosperity Colorado's Monkey Wrenching America website.)
 

ECHOES OF MAES MILEAGE? Max Tyler Uses Donor Dollars For Hobby Car

On Saturday, The Denver Post’s The Spot blog reported on the quirky and fun antique truck owned by State House Rep. Max Tyler (D-Lakewood). While it's cute that his wife gave it to him as a gift, what's not so adorable is that Tyler has been using his campaign finances to restore the truck.

The story immediately brought to mind infamous fraudster Dan Maes and his habit of reimbursing himself for campaign mileage during his failed gubernatorial bid. There's just something about candidates lining their own pockets with campaign cash for their own personal vehicles that tends to rub voters the wrong way. 

Beyond voters, we wonder how his donors would feel about contributing to Tyler’s expensive hobby.

Here’s what Tyler had to say about his truck:  

“’My wife Susan got it for me for my 50th birthday and I spent five years of spare time restoring and customizing it,’ Tyler said, in an e-mail. ‘I hot rodded the original engine with Corvette parts, then added disc brakes to stop it. It runs sweet!’”  

We're sure his top donors love that he’s spent their hard-earned, generously-given money on “hot-rodd[ing] the original engine with Corvette parts” and, then, “add[ing] disc brakes to stop it”.  

Here is a screen shot of the expenses charged to his campaign over the years to restore this carbon-emitting beast (taken from the Secretary of State’s TRACER web site):  

Over $1,000 has been dropped into this beast courtesy of Tyler's campaign backers. That's a nice little chunk of change to benefit Tyler's hobby vehicle. Sure wish we had a campaign account to fix up our car. 

Included in that figure is $27 for a “parking ticket for campaign truck”. The IRS doesn’t allow small business owners to write off parking tickets as expenses, why should Max Tyler be allowed to do so?

Oh, that’s right, because the rules that apply to the hardworking small business owners in Colorado don’t apply to this Renaissance man.


 

WHAT VOTER FRAUD? Revealing Politics Reveals Illegally Registered Voters & Double Ballot Mailing

Liberals in Colorado have long derided anyone who wants to reduce voter fraud as racists chasing non-existent threats. It will be interesting, then, to hear their reaction to two recent stories reported by Revealing Politics, the new national web venture by Colorado's Kelly Maher.

On Friday, Revealing Politics uncovered numerous letters from non-citizens begging to be removed from Colorado's voter rolls. You can see the letters below:

SoS CORA Letters from non-citizens

If the Secretary of State has received this stack of letters from people pro-actively trying to cancel their illegal registrations, how many illegally registered voters might there be? Wouldn't it behoove the state to find out?

Not only has Revealing Politics provided ample evidence of voter fraud, but they reported today on a citizen in Pueblo receiving two ballots in the mail

As the article snarkily points out, the double ballot mailing came courtesy of a fitting counting clerk — Pueblo's Gilbert "Leon Lett" Ortiz — the same clerk who had trouble counting ballots in 2011. In an attempt to make a political point about inactive voters, Ortiz claimed 4,870 ballots from inactive voters had been returned, when in fact the number was 1,791. And now he's sending out two ballots at a time. Counting should probably be a prerequisite for the County Clerk and Recorder position.

Hey Colorado Pols — do you think it's time for MSNBC to "lionize" Ortiz again?

Maybe, just maybe, the good work of the folks over at Revealing Politics proves something conservatives have been saying for quite some time — voter fraud and election integrity is a real concern. Maybe we should do something about it. 


 

FORGET RESEARCH: Gas Prices Hovering Near $4 A Gallon A-OK With Jared Polis

Just when gas prices start to drop a little, Boulder's Congressman, Jared Polis, decides there's no need to search for future ways to lower prices at the pump.  

Last week, Congress adopted Polis’ amendment that strips $25 million in federal research funding that was previously dedicated to oil shale research. None of Colorado’s Republicans voted for it, but Colorado’s Democrats Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter all voted for the measure.  

Polis justified his amendment by saying, “we shouldn’t be throwing good money after bad on oil shale research that won’t produce energy for the foreseeable future.”  

Somebody had better tell Shell, which has spent approximately $200 million on oil shale R&D in western Colorado, according to a Colorado Energy News article from April 2011.  

According to the Institute for Energy Research, Colorado has a large, quality concentration of oil shale resources on the Western Slope called the Piceance Basin. In fact, just a few years ago, Obama’s own Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar emphasized the importance of oil shale R&D in the Piceance Basin in a press release:

"For the first time in 20 years, we have an updated assessment of in-place oil shale in the Piceance Basin of Colorado," said Salazar. "The USGS scientific report shows significant quantities of oil locked up in the shale rocks of the Piceance Basin. I believe it demonstrates the need for our continued research and development efforts."  

Even worse, the areas covered by the Piceance Basin – Mesa County, Rio Blanco County, Garfield County and Delta County – have been some of the hardest hit statewide by the current recession. Each county is hovering far above its normal average for unemployment and most are above the state averages. In February, Institute for Energy Research President, Thomas Pyle summed it up nicely:

“…the administration continues an ideologically-driven quest to stifle job creation in the energy sector and to raise the cost of energy through more regulation, more mandates, and more restrictions on affordable sources. At best, this administration is suffering from acute energy schizophrenia. At worst, the administration is using brute administrative force to hurt the oil and gas industries and reward its green energy cronies.”  

The truth is that if oil and gas becomes inexpensive again, green energy shifts from really uneconomic to complete economically unfeasible. Too bad Colorado’s families have to suffer in order so that Polis can toe the liberal line on energy. 



 

OBAMA AND PRUNES


Obama Press Conference Statement:

We’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the past 27 months. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing problems is with state and local government, often with cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help they’re accustomed to from the federal government.

Obama later the same day:

It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That's the reason I had a press conference. That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. There are too many people out of work, the housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater, and that's precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.

Who knew, until Obama told us, that

  • Press conferences fix the economy and
  • Talk makes the economy stronger?

His Misfiring Guns, Sticking To

The second statement is not a walk-back. Obama didn't retract his statement about the private sector. His focus remains growing the number of government employees … since their union dues become political contributions that help Democrats. This despite the fact that the rate of decline in private sector job numbers nationally is 4.4 times higher than the government job drop.

Campaign cash explains why Obama wants to repeat part of his failed stimulus. Public sector unions spent $18.7 million in Colorado in the last four elections (state level only). Add in their share of labor's $19.5 Million to so-called 527 or SuperPAC cash [source: here and here] and $5.3 Million in labor's Congressional giving.

As to our state's economy, Mr. President, you are full of prunes.


Colorado's Economy: What's Really Happening

  • A top-notch chef started her own restaurant just before the economy began to tumble. Even a broken ankle didn't stop her. She kept on working, with her knee resting on a special walker, throughout her recovery. Her employees still have jobs. Real women do this, Mr. President; they're nothing like your fictional “Julia” (Julia's life here).
  • A three-decade boss of a small natural resources company (not energy) had his operation on the edge of Denver. Since the economy tanked, he's moved it briefly to several places in rural Colorado, and he's now looking up in the Dakotas – where energy extraction (you're trying to regulate to death) has buoyed the local economy. He sees his family irregularly, but the mortgage gets paid.
  • Last night, commenting on your crazy statement, one 30-something small business guy said, “It wouldn't be so hard for us if the government would just let us alone.” I'd never met the fellow, we didn't talk politics, it just came out of his mouth when he talked about what you said.

By the Numbers, You're Wrong

For Colorado your private sector-public sector factoids are just bogus. Here's the truth, comparing the last good year in our state's economy, 2007 to 2012 (BLS CES May data, not seasonally adjusted, in 1,000s).

  • Private sector jobs: 2007 = 1,934.6; 2012 = 1,879.7 for a loss of 54,900 jobs
  • Public sector jobs: 2007 = 378.5; 2012 = 400.2 for a gain of 21,700 jobs.

Mr. President, the 88,000 kids dumped from their homes in Colorado due to foreclosures need a commonsense fix to our nation's problems. The one out of four working-aged Colorado adults who aren't working need the dignity of a job. Rebuilding an economy for these people won't happen merely by more government and more government spending.

We'd be better off if you packed up your bags, left DC, and spent most of your time hobnobbing with the glitterati. Oh, wait. You're already doing that.

 

HICK ON DEFENSE: Governor’s Comments On Two Healthcare Mandates Spur Denver Post Push Back

Governor Hickenlooper is backpedaling hard after a series of off-message comments related to healthcare policy. In today's Denver Post, the Governor published an Op-Ed trying to lay out his position on healthcare policy, but glossed over the two healthcare mandates that have burned him recently.

In fact, the word “mandate” never appears in his editorial, nor does any mention of the mandates themselves.  

Last week, the Governor got himself in trouble when he made remarks to Colorado Public Radio opposing an individual mandate — the key part of Obamacare being reviewed by the US Supreme Court right now. Hickenlooper tried to deny that he said it, but most reporters weren’t buying it, driving coverage that we’re sure the Obama campaign didn’t appreciate.

Then earlier this week, at an Aspen Institute speech, Hickenlooper embraced New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to legally ban sodas over 16oz. After Hick's remarks were picked up by the AP's Kristen Wyatt, the Governor went into full-on defensive mode, going so far as to tweet out a denial:

It’s striking that the Governor is even playing defense. So far he’s been happy to sit on the sidelines while the press writes the latest chapter in the “Hickenlooper is Amazing” storyline. Maybe if he just keeps his mouth shut, it’ll make it easier to do that.  

 

COORS CREEPING UP ON PERLMUTTER: Golden Businessman Makes “Young Gun” Status, Drops Another Ad

After Ed Perlmutter won his 2010 race by 11 points, the conventional wisdom held that he would be unbeatable in 2012. The candidacy of Joe Coors Jr is quickly changing that calculation.

In a sign that national Republicans see significant strength in Coors’ chances at knocking off organized labor's biggest Colorado stooge, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced today that Coors has made "Young Gun" status in their Congressional candidate support program. That qualifies him for financial support from the NRCC, something that will come in handy this fall when the cost of TV ads skyrockets due to competition from the Super PACs and Presidential campaigns.

By comparison, Ryan Frazier didn't make Young Gun status until September of 2010

Why is Coors moving up the ranks so quickly? Probably because of ads like this — his second so far this cycle:




This ad buy is part of Coors’s larger $400,000 flight, according to Lynn Bartels. It’s not so much the size of the buy that should frighten Democrats, but the content of the message.

Coors comes across as likeable, accomplished and manages to sneak in an attack on DC and Perlmutter without even mentioning his opponent’s name. In a matter of a few months, Coors has succeeded at taking the 7th Congressional District from a lost cause to one of the most competitive Congressional races in Colorado.

He may not be a beer, but he is quickly becoming Ed Perlmutter’s worst nightmare.  

 

OBAMA’S ECONOMY: In The President’s Mind It’s “Doing Fine”

In the latest episode of “Obama Doesn’t Know Anything About The Private Sector,” we catch up with our economic superhero at a press conference this morning. Here’s what he had to say about the state of our economy:  

“The truth of the matter is that… we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the past 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine.

Maybe he should tell that to the 23 million Americans who are out of work. Or, perhaps it’s the fault of the 215,961 unemployed Coloradans that they can’t find work?
No, this is Obama’s fault, and this will be Obama’s “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” moment. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s what John McCain said on “Black Monday” during the 2008 election – when the financial and job markets were in a death spiral and financial titan Lehman Brothers had just filed for bankruptcy. Obama ran just a few ads with that quote.

Unfortunately, for Coloradans, it’s not just Obama who doesn’t have a clue – it seems to be the Democratic leadership at all levels. Remember this Senate Majority Leader John Morse gem?

Senator Morse: Raising taxes will slow the Colorado economy. And we heard public testimony that whether it's Keynesian or monetary, or whatever, taking tax dollars out of the private economy slows the private economy. Okay. What about the government economy?

Let’s do an EKG on the economy, shall we? Just a few facts and figures from earlier this year about the economy since President Obama has taken office: 

  • The number of unemployed has increased by 709,000
  • The number of marginally unemployed has increased 679,000
  • The number of those forced to be part-time has risen 174,000
  • The number of average weeks unemployed has doubled from 19.3 in 2009 to 40.1 in 2012
  • The price of gas has risen an unbelievable 86.2% College tuition has increased 25.1% Health insurance (which was supposed to decrease with Obamacare) has increased 12.7%
  • The number of Americans on food stamps has increased 44.2%      

Need we go on? The statistics on the economy were borne out in Bloomberg article just yesterday that noted:  

“The dwindling dynamism of the U.S. labor market also shows up in the willingness of Americans to strike out on their own. The nation’s business start-up rate — the number of new firms as a proportion of all companies — fell to a record low of around 8 percent in 2010, according to the latest data available from the Census Bureau. That’s down from about 11 percent in 2006, before the economic slump, and a high of 13 percent in the 1980s.”  


Clearly, the private sector is not doing fine. Unemployment is up nationally and up in Colorado. The only thing not going up at this point is Obama’s re-election chances.  

 

GENDER GAP SHRINKING: Romney Gaining Ground On Obama Among Women

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Governor Mitt Romney are “neck-and-neck” according to Rasmussen Reports’ first poll of the 2012 presidential race in Colorado. That comes on the heels of news that Romney is closing the gender gap nationally. According to The Hill’s Briefing Room Obama’s animal magnetism is wearing thin with many women.  

The post cites the USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 swing states showing that the president’s lead among women fell from 18 percentage points in April to 12 percentage points in May. Republican strategist and pollster, Whit Ayers explains:  

“The number one issue among women is the sorry state of the economy and the fragile state of our jobs. Mitt Romney has done an increasingly better job of paving a contrasting vision to Obama of a brighter economic future.”  

This trend surfaces in poll after poll, including the latest ABC-Washington Post poll, which shows that while 44 percent of women still have a negative view of Romney, 40 percent now have a favorable view of him, which represents a whopping 21-point swing from April.  

This huge swing in the female vote is what some strategists have pointed to when explaining Romney’s recent popularity in the polls.

And it's likely to continue. With Obama's comment today that "the private sector is doing fine" female voters across the fruited plains must be wondering what the hell the man in the White House is thinking.

With unemployment rising last month, female voters are likely to increase their swing towards Romney — the candidate who possesses the "sterling business record" according to Bill Clinton — not the candidate who doesn't know the price of gas, so to speak. 


 

ECONOMIC INDICATOR: Lower Gas Prices Cold Comfort To Colorado Families

As this year's election is set to be decided in large part by the state of the economy, we at Colorado Peak Politics have decided to start tracking key economic indicators to give our readers a more holistic picture than just monthly unemployment numbers.  

Today, Bloomberg released its weekly Consumer Comfort Index, which noted that “consumer confidence rose last week for the third straight time as the drop in fuel costs helped shore up Americans’ finances and improved the buying climate.”  

The Index measures Americans’ view of the economy on three variables: "the state of the economy, personal finances and whether it’s a good time to buy needed goods or services.”  

Ironically enough, the price of gas has gone down due to the softening economy and the related weakened demand for gas (not anything the administration has done), which is not exactly accounted for in the Index.

But, this is all relative — let’s remember where we are. According to ColoradoGasPrices.com, the cheapest gas found in the last 24 hours has been $3.30 in Pueblo, and the most expensive gas has been found at a Conoco station in Frisco, which lists regular unleaded gas at $4.47 per gallon.  

When President Obama took office, gas was under $2/gallon in Colorado. No wonder the Purple Poll on Colorado found 57% think we're on the wrong track.  

While consumer confidence may be rising nationally, the Rasmussen Reports poll on Colorado released today found that 44% of respondents said their finances were getting worse, compared to only 25% who reported improvement. 

(Gas Chart via ColoradoGasPrices.com)


 
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