A “Unified” whomp upside TDC’s head

A semi-truck and trailer makes its way through the Silt roundabout [Photo courtesy Mike McKibbon/Citizen Telegram]

A semi-truck and trailer makes its way through the Silt roundabout [Photo courtesy Mike McKibbon/Citizen Telegram]

Guest post by Anita Sherman*

Will someone from the Thompson Divide Coalition answer this question: What good is your strategy when the areas around the Thompson Divide wilderness area are drilled, spilled, fracked, and attacked? While the board continues to say, “We have to believe that our legislators are telling the truth and trust their word in this process.”

Newsflash: Legislators lie.

It’s time to remove those rose-fogged-afterglow-of-legislator-lovin’ glasses, and see that actions always do speak louder than words. It’s not what legislators say, it’s what they do — and whom they serve. No wonder the fracking Governor — and every frackaholic federal, state, county, and municipal elected official from Parachute to Rifle to Silt to New Castle support your strategy! Especially when the message is: “We believe there are appropriate places to drill.”

Really? Please explain the rationale that supports poisoning the public anywhere with no measure for accountability. While the TDC keeps our folks busy writing letters to the BLM, the legislators they’re lovin’ are pushing for oil and gas “eminent domain” bills that support toxic transport pipelines in our state and through our communities; plus increase transfer stations and strip mining of oil shale and frack sands for export.

Asking folks who are Unified — not only for protecting our Thompson Divide, but every damn acre of private and public land from toxic trespassers — to rally our time, talent, and treasure around their failed shit-on-a-stick-masquerading-as-ice-cream strategy is too big of a bite.

The Thompson Divide may be our region’s heart, but don’t think for one moment we’ll compromise our community limbs by putting all of our eggs in one hole-pocked basket. Being drawn to TDC failed strategy keeps our eyes and energy off the real threats legislatively removing our human rights to clean air, clean water, and property protections from toxic trespassers in our communities surrounding the Thompson Divide. Our families, friends, businesses, and properties throughout Garfield, Mesa, Gunnison, Pitkin, and Delta Counties — outside the Divide’s borders — are under legislative attack by the same toxic-trespasser-lovin’ legislators the TDC’s strategists want to trust.

Sorry, TDC you can’t play it both ways, and you cannot serve two masters in the form of compromise. Does the TDC believe the Thompson Divide’s safety lies in the hands of legislators bought by the industry, as opposed to standing with the folks in the line of fire demanding their constitutional and human rights to breathe clean air, clean water, and property protections from toxic trespassers?

The Thompson Divide may be at the heart our communities, but their strongest supporters live, breathe, work, and raise families outside and around the Thompson Divide’s borders. It’s our money they need to “buy back” leases. Nice legal gesture, but the industry called that bluff. In case TDC forgot, the public pays for the Thompson Divide with our tax dollars. Trusting legislators who lie, over the people in this battle is a sign the group’s strategy has lost sight of why We the People of Colorado support the Thompson Divide. Not as an island unto itself, but part of a whole community.

It’s time for the TDC board to review their strategy, and stop sending the message we support drilling, as long as it’s not in Aspen and Carbondale’s backyard. If TDC can’t, they should prepare to fuel their own financial fires, because a lot of us down valley won’t give a dime to a coalition that puts its faith in lying legislators over people battling to save our communities and wilderness areas in Colorado.

The strategy to continue to put up our time, talent, and treasure while TDC negotiates with corrupt industry legislators, who are slamming through ALEC-modeled bills at the federal and state level — like SB 93 — eroding our constitutional rights to clean air, clean water, and property protections from toxic trespassers, is about as effective as negotiating with a gang of eco-rapists holding guns to our heads.

The time has come to separate the wolves from the sheep. We’re in a battle for our lives with very limited resources which cannot be squandered on organizations that aren’t part of the whole community. The “Unified” rhetoric has lost its luster, when Unified means sacrificing our communities in the legislative horse trade.

In case the TDC was too busy “lovin’ legislators,” We the People of Colorado helped kill the toxic trespassers eminent domain bill SB 93. It wasn’t killed by “negotiating with eco-rapist legislators lovingly.” It was killed by direct citizen action demanding that legislators stop trying to ramrod unconstitutional legislation through the General Assembly. We can’t waste our time on a quality control agency like the BLM that makes us go through the public commentary motions. Meanwhile Town Trustees and Commissioners are building roads they don’t have approval to build. Where was the alert from TDC? How many other counties around the Divide are experiencing these attacks?

When it was revealed that the recent round of BLM public commentary was focused on reviewing proposed leasing in the White River National Forest areas — not specifically the Thompson Divide – TDC’s immediate pull-back provides a telling glimpse into their definition of “Unified.”

If TDC really cares about the safety and protection of the Thompson Divide, then they will have to stop seeing the Thompson Divide as an island unto itself, and work more aggressively with allies protecting their communities outside the wilderness area’s borders. At some point, they will have to get off the slime dime, and tell the eco-rapist legislators they’re sucking up to they better put up or shut up. Either our legislators serve the people, or they serve the corporations. It’s one or the other, and the “let’s all be friends” bi-partisanship among thieves, simply says to our communities: “The TDC is unified in robbing the public of their rights to clean air, clean water, and property protections from toxic trespassers. But, it’s okay because we get to keep the Thompson Divide for now!”

Thompson Divide’s preservation is reliant on protected land and corridors outside its boundaries. As communities Unified for the Divide, and every wilderness area in our state and nation, we need to stop the industry attempts to remove us legislatively from our rights to our land. Lovin’ the legislators, while the communities around your borders are getting massacred legislatively, doesn’t cut it!


Anita122013Anita Sherman* is a consultant for Blue Wing Strategies, LLC in Glenwood Springs, CO, and co-founder of the citizens advocacy group Garfield Transparency Initiative. She has two children, and a pledged supporter of the international collaborative The Mothers Project.  Sherman was recently named one of 100 national #FrackingFighters, a citizens direct action initiative by MoveOn.org, and a Co-Lead Plaintiff for a proposed citizens federal class action challenging the constitutionality of Colorado State’s enforcement of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission over Home Rule municipalities. She was elected as board President in 2013 for the non-profit Growing Food Forward, an organization that addresses hunger relief to the food insecure from Aspen to Parachute CO, with fresh organically cultivated produce. For over three decades, Sherman has been a strong community voice in lobbying legislation that provides equal protection of the law to ensure social justice with a focus on human rights to clean air, clean water, and property protections from industrial impact.

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7 Comments on “A “Unified” whomp upside TDC’s head”

  1. Joe hultqiist Says:

    I don’t know why your surprised the Thompson divide coalition was created by the wilderness workshop because they tainted their reputation so badly trying to ram hidden gems down our throats so they knew nobody would get behind them!!! Just the same organization with a different name not willing to work with anyone. You environmentalists are a joke just like the hydroelectric plant in Aspen you’re too busy bickering

  2. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    I can tell by your comments you’re unfamiliar with the concept of public discussion. In your world everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot. In our world intelligent, reasonable people have disagreements and they talk openly. If for no other reason than to keep from being part of the unthinking zombie masses that industry and government want us to be.

    Rule #1 in the gas patch: Question everything.

    I can also tell you’re kinda new here. Obviously you’re curious about our ilk. I urge you to keep learning and keep coming back here. We environmentalists have changed many hearts and minds over the years.

  3. Proud_of_GWS Says:

    I find this discussion process pretty interesting. i’ve been biting my tongue for a week or more on this but have decided to unload my thoughts/ideas all at once below. Here are my observations:

    1) @Joe – I’m not sure you have your facts straight here. Yes, Wilderness Workshop was at the table during the early years of the TD effort. But, from what I’ve heard (I have a couple friends on the TDC board), there was a significant falling out between TDC and WW – primarily because TDC wasn’t interested in a legal battle with industry (ex – did litigation work on the Roan Plateau?), and because WildernessW was never the appropriate leader of a centrist campaign (ex – Hidden Gems). I think TDC should be commended for their efforts though. Hell, they’ve accomplished more in a few short years, than most of the left-wingers on the Western Slope. You are correct though, Joe. we enviro’s have an uncanny ability to form “circular-firing-squads” and Anita Sherman is the queen of that squad.

    2) @ Anita – Where did your hatred for TDC come from? It seems odd to me that you’ll slam the TDC but you’ll show up to every one of their packed-house public meetings just to get some of the spotlight for yourself. I think you’re totally off-base. You say their not aggressive enough? From my limited participation in the TD effort (rallies, canvassing, lbbying/advocacy efforts, etc), all I’ve seen is aggressive (and effective) community organizing. They’ve prevented drilling in the area, thus far, and have assembled real support for the effort at every level- grassroots to grasstops. Instead of slamming the coalition, why don’t folks in the gas patch take a play out of their playbook and form your own coalition. Seems that approach might work better that asking them to do your work for you?

    Also, Anita, is anyone aggressive enough for you? The GarCo Dems certainly weren’t. The “it wasn’t aggressive enough” excuse won’t last forever. You’re BOCC campaign was a failure, and most of the folks who watched your candidate burn knew exactly where to point the finger. I’m a four-mile resident and the TD means something to those of us in GWS but I’ll be damned if we lose our chance at success because you tried to to bring the mountain to Muhammed.

    3) @ Peggy – I loved your comment “in the gas patch: question everything.” You are wise to stick to that motto and I appreciate your keeping the industry in-check as best you can. It is a noble effort and I’m glad you’re at the wheel. Though I’d urge you not to allow this blog/forum to turn into the circular firing squad I referenced earlier. You have a great blog and following, and it’s an invaluable piece of the overall effort. Go get’em!


    P.S. I was serious about forming a coalition that could specifically advocate in areas outside of the Divide. It’s needed. But I don’t think Anita would be the appropriate champion. We need voices voices that can appeal to the masses – not divide them. To bad no one thought of that before the BLM began this review process on the national forest.

  4. Peggy Tibbetts Says:


    Honestly. Michael Bennett at the PI said I’m preaching to the choir and you say I’m in danger of hosting a circular firing squad. Make up your minds people!

    Sorry. A bunch of people eating bbq, holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” does not a discussion make. It’s a mutual admiration society.

    Where I part ways with TDC is when they glance westward and repeat the mantra: “Some areas are appropriate for drilling, but the Thompson Divide is not one of them.”

    That’s an invitation to horse trading if I ever heard one.

    It’s not “appropriate” to poison human beings or the environment ANYWHERE.

    A brief history: In 2006, over 75,000 people protested drilling on the Roan Plateau. Yet with incomplete EIS in hand the BLM rammed those leases through anyway.

    My point? There’s not a chance in hell the BLM will cancel those TD leases.

    But even if they do – they won’t but let’s say they do – you’ll need to construct a bubble from GWS to Aspen to stop the air pollution that’s already blowin in your wind.

    Remember this – right now there are more than 10,100 gas wells and all the crap that goes with them on the other side of that pristine Divide.

    I’ve learned these 3 things from this life in the gas patch:
    1 – We all breathe the same air.
    2 – What goes up must come down. (props to Bob A)
    3 – You never see it coming.

    What I DO NOT do is keep the industry “in check.” I am nothing but a fly in their frackwater. When it comes to making an impact this blog is an exercise in futility. What this blog is, is a time capsule so that our children and our children’s children will know what they did to totally fuck up the land that I love, my home — my Colorado. That’s all.

    BTW, the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and the Western Colorado Congress not only “advocate in areas outside the Divide,” they are CHAMPIONS for our human rights and the environment here in the gas patch. Please. Join us. We don’t horse trade with people’s lives.

  5. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Oh, and Jay, you should also know that the TDC has not “prevented drilling in the area thus far.” The price of natural gas has prevented drilling on the Thompson Divide. It’s too cheap. But when Congress approves natural gas exports – with the help of Senators Bennett and Udall and the blessing of Frackenlooper – they will drill every square inch of Garfield County and beyond. And they will need to post a sign at the entrance to Glenwood Canyon: Will the last person leaving please turn out the lights?

  6. Carl L. McWilliams Says:

    This is written to Proud of GWS:

    You are way out of line Proud and I’m having difficulty understanding your late entrance/comment into this TDC/WW debate. This guest blog by Anita Sherman was posted one month before your untruthful and intentionally misleading libels against Sherman asserting falsely that she has hate for TDC.

    FYI: My wife and I live on a ten-acre (organic) farm on Silt Mesa at the very southern foothills of the Grand Hogbacks. Immediately adjacent to our aspiring organic farm is an ANTERO/URSA owned and COGCC approved sixteen well “SUPER-PAD”. If this monster sixteen well “SUPER-PAD” is ever drilled, frackers, next door to our home will shoot mile long horizontal natural gas wells only 3,000 feet deep, (that will be fracked), beneath the Grand Hogbacks.

    Is the Grand Hogbacks somehow unworthy of all that tax-deductible Carbondale/Aspen (501(C)(3) money that the TDC is currently receiving in gifts from the donor’s benevolence and yet the THOMPSON DIVIDE is worthy of the money?

    Anita Sherman’s thesis is correct in that the TDC is currently looking more like what economists would term “RENT SEEKERS”, instead of really aggressive eco-warriors. Furthermore, if you study the environmental essays of PATAGONIA founder Yvon Chouinard, you will see Anita Sherman’s thesis herein would be well received by Mr. Yvon Chouinard.

    That said, hopefully the PATAGONIA family will not consider the following statement as presumptuous:

    We the People of Colorado have been fighting the fracking wars with nothing more than Peggy Tibbett’s blog and Anita Sherman’s tireless committment to keeping toxic trespassers out of our backyards. We need some serious cash to carry out a federal class action challenging the constitutionality of the COLORADO OIL & GAS CONSERVATION ACT which created by state statute, the COGCC Beast.

    PATAGONIA: If you read this comment and would like to obtain more information on investing serious six-figure cash to hire competent trial attorneys, please contact Anita Sherman through Peggy Tibbetts. We will do the ass-kicking against the O&G Industry that TDC is much too timid to undertake.

    Carl L. McWilliams
    Lead Representative Plaintiff
    A federal class action “under construction”

  7. Carl L. McWilliams Says:

    To those from the TDC who will read my comments above regarding the pending federal class action, please see this link:


    Carl L. McWilliams
    Lead Representative Plaintiff
    A federal class action “under construction”

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