Colorado Readies for ‘All Out War’ as Anti-Fracking Measures Advance to Ballot

Citizen-led, progressive efforts to override the government and fossil fuel industry could be devastating for Big Oil in the state of Colorado after the November 2016 election
— by Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Colorado has 73,000 wells with tens of thousands more planned for drilling. (Image: Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission)

The government of Colorado has so far managed to quash efforts to halt the spread of fracking in that state, but come November, residents will finally have the chance to overpower the will of politicians and Big Oil and Gas.

Petitioners on Monday submitted more than 200,000 signatures backing two separate initiatives to amend the Colorado constitution, specifically in regards to the controversial drilling method.

“This is a good day for Colorado, and it’s a good day for democracy,” said Lauren Petrie, Rocky Mountain Region director of Food and Water Watch. “These initiatives will give communities political tools to fend off the oil and gas industry’s effort to convert our neighborhoods to industrial sites. This is a significant moment in the national movement to stem the tide of fracking and natural gas.”

Initiative 78 would establish a 2,500-foot buffer zone protecting homes, hospitals and schools, as well as sensitive areas like playgrounds and drinking water sources, from new oil and gas development. This expands the current mandate of a 500-foot setback from homes and, according to Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development (CREED), is based upon health studies that show increased risks within a half mile of fracked wells and the perimeters of real-life explosion, evacuation, and burn zones.

Colorado regulators say that, if passed, Initiative 78 could effectively halt new oil and gas exploration and production in as much of 90 percent of the state.

Initiative 75 would establish local government control of oil and gas development, authorizing local municipalities “to pass a broad range of more protective regulations, prohibitions, limits or moratoriums on oil and gas development—or not,” according to the grassroots group.

This measure challenges a May ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court which said that state law overrides local fracking bans.

Various moratoriums or anti-fracking measures bans have been passed by the communities of Lafeyette, Boulder, Fort Collins, Broomfield, El Paso County, and Longmont—though many of these efforts were quashed by the Supreme Court ruling. Campaigners are hopeful that the initiatives would lay the foundation for many more.

Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, an infamous proponent of fracking, has voiced his strong disapproval of the ordinances.

The signature deadline was met Monday despite the fact that the citizen volunteers facedharassment and, as Common Dreams previously reported, a massive, industry-funded opposition campaign which included deceptive television ads telling citizens to “decline to sign” the ballot petitions.

Reporting by the Colorado Independent revealed the campaign to be “part of an orchestrated, multi-year effort by both Colorado-based and national energy giants. One of their front groups is Protect Colorado, which funded the petition-gatherer-of-doom TV ad and is actively seeking to thwart citizens from qualifying the two measures for the ballot.”

“Industry has been gearing up for this fight for five years,” Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund, told ThinkProgress. “This was kind of the pre-fight, the undercard…If either of these make it onto the ballot, we’re going to see a cage match — an all-out war.”

And the stakes are high. As the New York Times put it, should either measure pass, “it would represent the most serious political effort yet” to stop fracking in the U.S..

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office now has 30 days to authenticate the signatures before they make the ballot. The announcement is expected to be made by September 7.


CreativeCommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Advertisements

Background Check Initiative

The Background Check Initiative is a common-sense proposal that will close loopholes in Nevada law that make it all too easy for felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill to buy guns. We have the right to bear arms, but with rights come responsibilities. The Background Check Initiative will improve public safety in Nevada by requiring background checks for all gun sales, with reasonable exceptions for family, hunting, and self-defense.

VoteYes

This November, Nevadans will vote on Question 1, the Background Check Initiative
Current federal law requires criminal background checks on gun sales at licensed dealers.
However, no background check is required in the unlicensed sales conducted online, at gun
shows, or even between strangers in parking lots. These sales typically occur with no
background check, no questions asked – and thus, make it far too easy for criminals to get
guns.

Background Checks Save Lives
91 Americans lose their lives every day to gun violence. There is no single solution to the
gun violence crisis facing our country, but we should do everything we can and the fact is,
background checks help save lives.

In the 18 states that have enacted comprehensive background checks:

  • 46 percent fewer women are shot and killed by intimate partners
  • 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers are killed with handguns
  • 48 percent fewer people commit suicide with guns

About the Campaign
Since 2014 supporters and volunteers have been preparing for the Background Check
Initiative to ensure a victory. In order to qualify for the ballot, over 250,000 Nevadans
signed their names, breaking records in Nevada for most signatures gathered.

Today the campaign has thousands of volunteers and donors from across the state, and an
advisory board of over 50 Nevadans including faith leaders, business owners, veterans and
law enforcement officers.

  • Nevadans for Background Checks Endorsements
  • Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers
  • Service Employees International Union of Nevada (SEIU)
  • Nevada State Education Association (NSEA)
  • Nevada State Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
  • The Council for a Better Nevada
  • The Fraternal Order of Police

We count among our proud and active supporters moms, veterans, doctors, survivors of
gun violence, gun owners and NRA members, and Nevadans from all walks of life who are
committed to creating safer communities and helping to save lives. Please learn more and
join us at www.SafeNevada.org.

Save the Date for Gun Violence Prevention

by Holly Scala, Northern Nevada Gun Violence Prevention Organizer, Battle Born Progress 

HollyScalaHi!  My name is Holly Scala, and I am so pleased to introduce myself as the new Northern Nevada Gun Violence Prevention Organizer! I am so honored and excited to be joining Battle Born Progress and be a part of such a forward-thinking organization.

I recently graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, where I majored in International Affairs and Philosophy, and completed a minor in Holocaust, Genocide and Peace Studies. During college I worked for the Tutoring Center on campus as a Supplemental Instruction Leader for a philosophy course, and subsequently as a Senior Supplemental Instruction Leader, in which I got to manage a group of seven other Supplemental Instruction Leaders as well as contribute to the expansion of the Supplemental Instruction Program itself. My time in college heavily fueled my passion for studying political violence and non-violent resistance movements and solutions. Hence, coming into this position is literally a dream come true.

I am a Reno, Nevada native and, aside from the year that I spent living as an exchange student in Bonn, Germany, I have lived here all of my life. I am head over heels with Nevada, especially the Reno-Tahoe area, due to its immense natural beauty and the special kind of people that live in our pretty state. All other waking hours of my life are spent playing guitar or running silly amounts of miles throughout Nevada’s beautiful trails.

Join me in Reno on July 13th at 6:00 p.m. for a get-together to learn more about me and the work we are going to be doing in Northern Nevada. RSVP with me for the location: hscala@battlebornprogress.org

I am so thankful and pumped up to be joining this amazing team, and I look forward to working with you all and seeing how much of a better place we can make our state within the upcoming months!

NRA Demands, Once Again, Trump Constituent Demands

The duplicitous  wants guns in OUR workplaces, in our groceries, in our churches, in our night clubs, yet they ban carrying loaded rifles into THEIR offices. To assure their demands are heeded, they send out their chief lobbyist to threaten our politicians such that if they were to support ANY form of gun control legislation, the NRA would make them pay a price—their seat in Congress.  Thus, more terrified of the NRA than their nescient constituents, Senate GOP members would rather sell guns to terrorists than protect the lives of your loved ones.

To end the Democratic filibuster of Senate business last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised “a vote” on gun legislation this week. But, he made sure that any votes taken would require a 60 vote super-majority for passage. Accordingly, all FOUR gun management amendments failed cloture, leaving the terror loophole and the gun show loophole firmly in place and the ability of terrorists on the watch list and the No-Fly list with the affirmed right to buy as many assault rifles and ammunition as they can carry.  Do you feel safer now?

4720

Heller voted NAY

4749

Heller voted YEA

4750

Heller voted NAY

4751

Heller voted YEA

It’s time to make the NRA’s money worthless.  If we really want to make a difference in how our country is governed, it’s time we started taking out the NRA-supported GOP obstructionist trash, starting with taking out Amodei in the US House this year and replacing him with Chip Evans. We also need to assure that Rep. Joe Heck is NOT elected to the Senate and that we replace retiring Sen. Harry Reid with Catherine Cortez Masto. Senator Heller isn’t up for re-election this year, but he’ll be up for re-election in 2018.  We need to remember that he’s indebted to the NRA to the tune of $122,000 and that they’ve bought his votes.

Oh, and as you read through the above vote summaries, if Senator Grassley’s name sounds familiar to you, he chairs the Judiciary Committee. He’s the one blocking any and all consideration of the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Merrick Garland.  So nice to see that he now has a two-fer in an election year where he’s running for re-election to a 7th 6-yr term.

#NRA Class of 2016 with Scholarship Donations

Have you ever wondered why the GOP Senate continually sides with the NRA on all gun-related proposed legislation, and against well over a majority of their constituents, Democrat, Republican and Independents? They’ve been bought, including Nevada’s own Sen. Dean Heller (to the tune of a $122,000 scholarship from the NRA)!

NRA-Class-of-2016

Change an Immigrant’s Life Today

— by Donna De La Cruz

eslWe are excited to partner with Revolution English to empower immigrants in the United States by helping them to learn English.

Revolution English needs volunteer English Conversation Tutors to have a one-hour conversation session with students once a week. This is where YOU come in!

You can help provide courageous students who dare to speak a new language with the support to practice and make mistakes without being judged or punished. We will train you and provide ongoing support.

It’s easy: all you need is an internet connection and a willingness to help immigrants learn English. You can choose times that are convenient for your schedule and you can connect from the comfort of your home.

What are you waiting for? Please volunteer! Your time will change the lives of immigrants that call this country their home.

Thank you,

Donna De La Cruz
Reform Immigration FOR America

Now Available: A Library of Opportunity

What if we could ensure that every student, no matter where they live or the income of their parents, could get access to a great book?  What if they had access to not just one book, but a library of thousands of titles – and could read them from anywhere?

We’ve taken a big step toward that vision thanks to Open eBooks, a stakeholder-driven project that the President highlighted last April, and that after months of hard work by a team of libraries, publishers, and non-profits, is launching nationwide today. For millions of America’s kids, Open eBooks can be a passport to a world of learning and opportunity – delivering over $250 million of reading material to students who need it most, and introducing them to a love of reading.

Why is this so important?  Ask Colin Rogister, who helps lead the Administration’s ConnectED initiative. Colin began his career as a 2nd grade teacher at a low-income elementary school in California, where he taught Marlene, a DREAMer whose parents emigrated from Mexico to find a better life. An advanced reader, it only took Marlene a few months to finish every chapter-book in Colin’s classroom. If she had been able to access a resource like Open eBooks, she would have had thousands of popular and award-winning books at her fingertips. Stories like Marlene’s help inspire efforts like Open eBooks.

The President said it best:

“No matter who you are, where you live, or how much money you’ve got, you should be able to access the world’s knowledge and information just like anyone else.”

–President Obama, Anacostia Library, April 30, 2015
Open eBooks helps advance ConnectED’s vision of seizing every opportunity technology affords to ensure students, inside and outside the classroom, have access to the best teaching and learning. Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, we’ve already cut the connectivity divide in half in schools. Meanwhile, more students than ever – at all income levels – have access at school or home to a digital device, whether a tablet, laptop, or mobile phone. According to a national survey, 85 percent of families with young children (6-13 years old) living below the poverty line have access to mobile devices. That translates into a unique opportunity to deliver more and better content to students with a hunger to learn.

Open eBooks is not a federal program; it was created by a breakthrough coalition of literacy, library, publishing, and technology organizations who worked together over the past year to make the initiative possible. This team – Digital Public Library of America, First Book, and The New York Public Library with content support from digital books distributor Baker & Taylor – created the app, curated the eBook collection, and developed a system for distribution and use. They received support for development of technology critical to the app from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and content contributions from ten major publishers — including today’s big announcement that National Geographic will include all its age-appropriate content in the app.

But they can’t do this alone. To make sure students can take advantage, they need the help of a responsible adult — those who work with children in need through libraries, schools, shelters and clinics, out-of-school programs, and early childhood programs; and those who work primarily with students in military families. This includes teachers, librarians, after-school counselors, and others primarily serving students in need. Students with codes can then download the free Open eBooks app to mobile devices from their mobile app store and enter their access code to start enjoying Open eBooks.

For more information on how to sign up and to connect young people with the eBooks they need, visit www. OpeneBooks.net.


R. David Edelman
Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Technology Policy


House Moves On Bills That Would Allow States To Seize Millions Of Acres Of Public Lands

— by Matt Lee-Ashley, ThinkProgress Guest Contributor

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/RICK BOWMER

Less than two weeks after the arrest of Cliven Bundy and the armed militants who were occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider three bills that would dispose of vast stretches of national forests and other public lands across the country.

The bills, which will be heard in a meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, represent an escalation of the political battle being waged by the Koch brothers’ political network, anti-government extremist groups, and a small group of conservative politicians led by the committee’s chairman, U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT).

The first bill, introduced by Representative Don Young from Alaska (R), would allow any state to seize control and ownership of up to 2 million acres of national forests within its borders — an area nearly the size of Yellowstone National Park. A state would then be able to auction off the lands to private ownership or for mining, logging, and drilling.

The second bill, written by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), would give states and counties the right to take direct control of up to 4 million acres of national forests across the country for clear-cut logging, without regard to environmental laws and protections. A third bill, written by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), would turn over what the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance estimates to be 6,000 miles of road right-of-ways on U.S. public lands to counties in Utah, opening the door for road construction and development in protected wilderness areas.

These legislative efforts echo the demands of militant rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons, Ryan and Ammon, that the federal government cede ownership of all national forests and public lands to state, county, and private interests. A federal grand jury in Las Vegas last week indicted the Bundys on conspiracy charges for leading armed standoffs with federal law enforcement officials in 2014 and in Oregon earlier this year.

Although Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Governor John Kasich (R-OH) are making Bundy-inspired pitches on the presidential campaign trail, their proposals to seize or sell public lands are deeply unpopular among most Westerners. Recent public opinion research from Colorado College found that approximately six in 10 voters in the region — including a majority in Nevada — are opposed to the idea.

There are signs that the Bundys’ political supporters are facing a growing political backlash for their extreme views. In Wyoming, for example, an outcry from hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationists in the state recently helped defeat two bills that aimed to facilitate a state take-over of national public lands.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives may vote this week on an amendment by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) that would prohibit convicted Bundy militants from ever carrying weapons through certain nationally-owned lands.

Four Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate in Western states are also circulating a petition to “Keep Public Lands in Public Hands,” which criticizes efforts to seize and sell public lands. “We cannot allow our public lands to be locked up, sold off, or only accessible to the wealthy few,” the petition reads.

Matt Lee-Ashley is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress. You can follow him on Twitter @MLeeAshley.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe. ‘Like’ CAP Action on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter

Betting the Farm on Free Trade?

The White House is gambling with our health, jobs, and environment by embracing the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

— by

Janet RedmanFrom her home in Berks County, Pennsylvania, Karen Feridun is helping stage a growing citizen pushback against the expansion of natural gas extraction. But a far-reaching global deal recently signed halfway around the world may make her job much harder.

Feridun got involved in this fight over concerns that fracking waste, laden with toxic chemicals, could end up in the sewage sludge that some Pennsylvania towns spread on local farm fields.

Figuring her best bet for keeping the state’s water, food, and communities safe was putting a stop to fracking, Feridun founded Berks Gas Truth. The group is now part of a statewide coalition calling for a halt to fracking in Pennsylvania.

no-TPP-trans-pacific-partnership-protests
AFGE / Flickr

The campaign got a boost when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, after hearing a case brought by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, ruled that local governments have the right to protect the public trust. The court also found that oil and gas companies must abide by municipal zoning and planning laws.

The decision was celebrated as a huge victory for local control. But, Feridun told me, “the Trans-Pacific Partnership could turn over the apple cart entirely.”

The day after we spoke, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Frohman joined top officials from eleven other Pacific Rim nations in a New Zealand casino to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a sweeping “free trade” agreement aimed at opening national borders to the flow of goods, services, and finance.

The location couldn’t have been more symbolic. By entering into this deal, the Obama administration is playing roulette with America’s future.

The White House hopes to win greater access to raw materials, cheap labor, and burgeoning consumer markets in Asia for U.S. companies. What do we stand to lose? Nothing less than the ability to set rules and regulations that protect our families’ health, our jobs, and our environment.

The provision at the heart of this wager is something called an “investor-state” clause. It would let companies based in TPP partner countries sue governments over laws or regulations that curtail their profit-making potential.

It’s a risky bet. Here’s the White House’s simplistic calculus: The U.S. government has never lost an investor-state case.

The more we win, it seems, the bigger our next gamble. The TPP would be the largest free trade agreement in history, covering about 40 percent of the global economy and giving additional countries the option to “dock” to the treaty later. It also adds thousands of companies that could potentially sue the United States in trade court.

Back in Berks County, the demand from newly opened overseas markets for U.S. gas may increase local pressure to frack. The TPP’s investor-state provisions would let foreign-owned gas companies challenge any statewide limits on the practice standing in their way.

If this sounds unlikely, look no further than our neighbors to the north. U.S. oil and gas company Lone Pine Resources sued Canada using a similar clause in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) when Quebec passed a moratorium to halt fracking under the St. Lawrence River. And Lone Pine won.

Now, TransCanada — the Canadian company behind the hugely unpopular Keystone XL pipeline — is bringing a $15 billion claim against the United States for denying permits to build it. That’s exactly the kind of legal action that makes people like Karen Feridun fighting oil and gas projects nervous.

Even if Washington wins the TransCanada suit under NAFTA, the fear of spending millions of dollars fending off litigation under the much larger TPP could have a chilling effect on future efforts to keep oil, gas, and coal in the ground.

Luckily, as Feridun and her neighbors know, Congress hasn’t approved the Trans-Pacific Partnership yet. If lawmakers care about protecting good jobs, clean skies, safe water, and a stable climate in this hotly contested election year, they’d be wise not to gamble against the public interest.


Janet Redman directs the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies. IPS-dc.org
Distributed by OtherWords.org.