"Here's to having cake and eating it, too"

“Here’s to having cake and eating it, too”

Governor John Hickenlooper is set to announce the task force that was created in the aftermath of Jared Polis’ fracking capitulation. The commission is to make recommendations to the Governor and the State Legislature on how Colorado’s oil and gas rules, already the toughest in the nation, can be made even more onerous.

Two weeks ago, Hick made headlines when he appointed a fire-breathing, anti-fracking activist, Gwen Lachelt, who founded a radical environmentalist group Earthworks, to co-chair the panel. Lachelt made her own waves when she donned her Jared Polis hat, and threatened a ballot initiative if the task force and the legislature didn’t come up with more restrictions on energy production, which isn’t surprising given what she said about Josh Fox’s film “Gasland”:

“I loved watching Josh Fox’s (Gasland filmmaker) presentation on You Tube last week at the New York hearing on hydraulic fracturing. I was cheering him on from my desk in Durango, Colorado, as he challenged the notion that oil and gas regulation is an answer to the impacts caused by reckless oil and gas development across the United States. In my 23 years working with communities directly affected by oil and gas development, those fossil fuels have never been developed without impacts to our land, air, and water. Not surprising: they are inherently dirty energy sources when it comes to extraction and production, and the industry always puts profit before protection.”

Today, the plot thickens.

Sources tell us Hickenlooper’s commission, which will be announced sometime this week, is numerically bloated with appointees who view oil and gas as the enemy.

For example, another source told us that famed fractivist Matt Sura was on the inside track to be appointed to the commission as some sort of a “neutral” expert.

Sura became the flash point of controversy when Brighton hired him as a “neutral” expert to guide the development of local regulations. Surprise, surprise – Sura wasn’t so neutral and WWIII broke out when Sura convinced Brighton to ban fracking for months. Brighton later lifted the ban when the local business community went up in arms.

From the Colorado Observer at the time:

“An environmental activist and fracking opponent was hired by the City of Brighton to help draft new regulations for local oil and gas development, prompting concerns from a key lawmaker that the input would taint the process or lead to a permanent ban.

Matt Sura, an environmental lawyer and former director of the Western Colorado Congress, has spoken at anti-fracking events and was reportedly involved in efforts opposing hydraulic fracturing operations in Weld County, the largest producer of oil and gas in the state with 15,000 wells.

Minority Whip and state Rep. Kevin Priola (R-Henderson) said he is concerned about the economic effects in Brighton if the final recommendation is a long-term moratorium on energy development, and expressed particular unease “the city has retained Sura, who has a track record of doing this.”

In an interview with The Colorado Observer, Priola said his concern is that Brighton will follow a pattern similar to what occurred in Boulder, where the city council approved a one-year moratorium in June to block oil and gas drilling permits there, while Boulder voters approved a ballot measure in November to institute a five-year ban.

“There are three to four thousand employees that live and work in Brighton — Halliburton made a large commitment and has an operation there — and it’s just really concerning to me as a native of Brighton, that the Brighton City Council appears to be mirroring what the City of Boulder has done,” Priola said.

“This is concerning as Mr. Sura has either worked with, or been closely associated publicly with extreme environmental groups such as Frack Free Colorado, Frack Free Boulder, Protect our Loveland and Citizens for Clean Air,” Priola said in the letter.

Whether or not Sura makes the final cut is still an open question. Others in consideration include: Anthony Ingraffea, who helped Gwen Lachelt start her radical activist group EarthWorks and who starred in the documentary propaganda film “Gasland” and Jim Ramey, executive director of Citizens for a Healthy Community, who has pledged to ban fracking. as reported by Energy in Depth.

Regardless, multiple sources tell us that their nose count of people likely to be appointed by Hickenlooper to the commission are either adversarial to the industry, or are not likely to balk at a mountain of new regulations.

If Hick manages to escape re-election, will he roll over on the oil and gas industry the way he turned on the families of those killed by Nathan Dunlap?

Is anyone surprised that Hickenlooper is trying to have it both ways – drinking fracking fluid while trying to make nice with those who want to ban it?

Of course you aren’t. And we aren’t either.