Thursday, August 28, 2014

How the Frackers Prevailed in Colorado

Thanks to an extended report, we now know how Gov. John Hickenlooper, his Neoliberal Dem cronies and the fracker brigade managed to prevail in Colorado. By "prevail" I mean that they managed to finagle a closed doors, or back door deal - presented as a compromise  - that resulted in Dem rep Jared Polis removing his two local fracking initiatives from the November Ballot.  As the Post put it in its report ('Hickenlooper's Deal', p. 1A, Aug. 24):

"Nearly every person interviewed by the Denver Post doubted that anyone but Hickenlooper, a former geologist who has allies in the energy community and environmental communities,  could have pulled off a compromise."

But the problem is that it's no real compromise, only a puny token sham that managed to scrap actual potential for action. According to the Denver Post report back on Aug. 8:

"A 20 - person commission was announced Monday as part of a compromise to keep two oil and gas oriented initiatives from the fall ballot."

And what, pray tell, would  we see from this commission?

"The commission will have 6 months to make recommendations to the legislature which will then consider further legislation."

Oh, terrific! Six months to make "recommendations" and then the (bought out) legislature will have its say in making new laws. All you need to know is that the two largest fracking companies - from Texas- cheered wildly at the news. Can you figure it out now? Because never mind the legislature, the 6 month span will allow the drillers to put down 5,000 more frack wells, threatening our air, soil and ground water, see e.g.

Anyway, Hick and his compadres were propelled to act to get a deal - any deal - after learning from Brian Lawrence (who founded Yorktown Partners - a company that invests in energy) that while the firm had planned to invest $1 billion in Colorado energy companies they were unable to proceed while any fracking control items were on the ballot. Thus the impetus for Hick to come up with any kind of bogus deal he could.

The breakthrough came when U.S. Rep Ed Perlmutter organized a dinner at a downtown Denver steakhouse to discuss the ongoing fracking debate and try to come to a resolution. No members of the fracktivists were allowed to attend, only the inside pols and their lackeys. Oh ...and the oil and gas representatives.  According to the Post (p21 A, ibid.):

"To Chris Castilian, director of government affairs for Andarko Petroleum and deputy chief of staff for former Republican governor Bill Owens, the dinner was a watershed moment."

Oh, I am sure it was as the weasels - in their secluded meetings-  found concordance on how to craft a deal to screw the public out of an opportunity to vote for local control of frack operations. Now, they're at the mercy of "commissions" and an industry-driven "task force".

To make a long story short, Hickenlooper according to the Post,  "practiced shuttle diplomacy" until he got all the participants on board as well as PR firms   - to be able to sell this sham to the public. After all, following all the hoopla of the ballot initiatives you had to toss them a rag when the measures were removed. (It helped of course that the state Dept. Of Natural Resources houses the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission - which is the industry 'pet' group designed to run interference on fracktivists )

As Hickenlooper beheld the "hangman's noose", i.e. the date of Aug. 4 approaching with all the signed petitions that would enable the two local fracking control initiatives, he and his minions pushed into overdrive to secure the bogus deal. The break point came when Polis caved under the pressure and dropped all additional demands concerning the composition of the task force designated to oversee the issues via the commission set up for the compromise. The road was then free and clear to bamboozle the public. (Polis was told if he really wanted to have local fracking control he could run for a special state office.)

So we can then plausibly conclude that Polis has likely been playing us all, or at least only exploited the initiative drive to get more press for himself.. Sadly, with the initiatives pulled, it means all those 100,000+ who've signed them will likely not be tricked into doing so again  - for another sham cover by a lying politico only seeking to protect his own hide. Meanwhile, the Neoliberal Dem Governor Hickenlooper has again resorted to his usual codswallop, once describing  the push for the local control initiatives and the action by five municipalities to place bans on moratoriums for drilling as "a rebellion". Obviously showing he has no clue what a REAL one looks like, making me wish I could transport him back in time to Yorktown  or Lexington in 1777, oh,  in a Redcoat uniform.

And in his most recent Post remarks:

"There are still a bunch of critics who say we're kicking the can down the road. But if those critics had their way we would be in the middle of a ballot war right now. "

You have that one right, sonny.  And we'd have had a full throated expression of the people's will which you and your imps have now prevented by a back room deal.

Some things never change, but the people of Colorado won't forget. You can make book on it!

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