When Governor Hickenlooper met with the AGNC (Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado) in Rifle on Monday, he was treated to Western Colorado’s brown cloud as it hugged Mamm Mountain and clung to the Roan Cliffs. The PI reporter called it “a blanket of haze.” We call it air pollution. Haze doesn’t burn your eyelids and make you cough.
I wasn’t able to attend the meeting, as I’m sure was the case for many people since we had a little over 48 hours notice to rearrange our schedules to accommodate Hickenlooper’s brief one-hour stop.
I dare Hickenlooper to give a week’s notice and appear at an EAB meeting instead of a cozy meet and greet with super pac AGNC on a mad dash through Western Colorado. (Click here for more info about AGNC) Maybe he just didn’t want to hang out too long in this bad air.
Nonetheless, a bunch of people showed up. More photos at GarCo website.O&G industry protesters, supporters greet Gov. Hickenlooper
When it comes to the management of greater sage grouse habitat, Hickenlooper is in league with the Garfield County Commissioners and Dave Moore’s Town Board in opposing the BLM Draft RMPA (comment period extended to Dec 2). It’s amazing how much he panders to the Republicans and they don’t even like him. Not that there’s many Democrats who like him either but he doesn’t even try to win them over anymore. He’s kind of hanging around out there in a political brown cloud.
… “We do have a real disagreement on some of the science being used in looking at the historic habitat of the sage-grouse, and how it has diminished over time,” Hickenlooper said before members of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado (AGNC) and area business leaders at a special meeting in Rifle.
The Democratic governor recounted a “heated conversation” with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe on that very topic, and criticized the proposal being put forward by the Bureau of Land Management to protect the bird’s habitat on federal lands.
“The solution that has been proposed is not appropriate,” Hickenlooper said of a preferred alternative contained in the BLM’s draft environmental analysis on the sage-grouse issue.
The proposal being considered is a compromise between environmental groups and multiple-use proponents but still includes strict limits on surface uses within the identified “priority habitat.”
Some of those measures could have a significant impact not only on development of mineral leases but grazing and other types of lease activities.
Garfield County has spent more than $200,000 to have consultants come up with an alternative plan that identifies a much smaller habitat range for the bird northwest of Parachute and into Rio Blanco County …
Apparently Hickenlooper stopped short of endorsing the Garfield County Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan, though he offered no alternative to the BLM plan, just a vague reference to something in general that western governors were working on.
But sage grouse wasn’t the only dish served up on Monday. Hickenlooper also talked about Front Range fracking bans and regulating carbon emissions on coal-fired power plants.
Western guvs wade into flap over grouse [subscriber only]
Rio Blanco County Commissioner Shawn Bolton asked Hickenlooper if he had a plan in place if lawmakers pass a measure imposing a moratorium or ban on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas development, such as those approved by voters in some Front Range communities this fall.
Hickenlooper said such actions violate the rights of mineral owners.
“Even a five-year ban, I see that as government taking something,” he said.
Hickenlooper was questioned in both Craig and Rifle about Environmental Protection Agency proposals to regulate carbon emissions from new and existing coal-fired power plants.
“For northwest Colorado, federal regulations that cripple clean coal and natural gas would be the worst of all possible options,” said Craig City Council member Ray Beck.
Hickenlooper said requiring expensive retrofits of existing power plants doesn’t make sense, and he thinks states like Colorado that already have made significant investments in cutting emissions should get credit for that, rather than the federal government taking a hard-line approach.
OMG — it’s hard to believe the man has the nerve to say stuff like that in public.
Back in September, Governor Hickenlooper’s Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health Task Force proposed “that lawmakers charge fees on homes built in woods, rate the wildfire risk of the 556,000 houses already built in burn zones on a 1-10 scale and inform insurers, and establish a state building code for use of fire-resistant materials and defensible space.”
So while the Governor is looking to force private property owners who develop in known wildfire areas (as they have the right to do, just as he claims private property owners have the right to develop their mineral rights) to bear more of the cost of the impact of such development, he is unwilling to hold the energy companies to those same standards when assessing the impacts on public health and the environment.
What a fracking hypocrite!