The Colowyo mine dispute has created an interesting schism between Judge R. Brooke Jackson who decided the case and Michael Bennet, the senator who recommended President Obama nominate Jackson for the federal district court.
Not once, but twice Bennet recommended Jackson for the job, and it took nearly a year for the Senate to confirm Judge Jackson to the post in 2011.
When Bennet announced his backing of Jackson for the job, he said the judge “has shown to be a thoughtful jurist, one that I believe will serve Colorado and the country well on the federal bench.”
Bennet doesn’t seem to think so now, and is urging the Interior Department to pressure Jackson to extend the court deadline of 120 days to solve the problem. And that problem, according to Jackson, is that when the mine was approved 20 years ago, there wasn’t enough public notice. Because of that oversight by the federal government, 200 workers in Moffat County stand to lose their jobs.
This isn’t the first contentious ruling Jackson has issued since taking the bench. In 2014, environmentalists applauded Jackson when he ruled that the feds didn’t give enough consideration to greenhouse gas emissions and blocked Arch Coal’s expansion in Gunnison County. That lawsuit was also brought by WildEarth Guardians, the same greenies behind the Colowyo legal action.
Another contentious Jackson ruling in 2014 blocked the conservative group Citizens United from airing a documentary in Colorado that criticized Democrats, because it did not disclose donors.
Interestingly, Bennet did not dispute those rulings. But that was then, and this is now – and by “now” we mean reelection season.
Within the upper echelons of the political world, the technical term for this situation is known as – “awkward.”
Some We would describe the dichotomy within Bennet’s actions as schizophrenic. He has sponsored legislation to put coal companies out of business nationwide through so-called renewable energy standards. Yet when confronted with the loss of jobs in his own backyard, he asks the Interior Department to protect coal by thwarting his own judicial nominee.