Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guest Post: Weld County Commissioner Doug Rademacher responds to Representative Jared Polis' FRACKED article

Weld County Commissioner Doug Rademacher submitted this guest blog in response to Representative Jared Polis' FRACKED article.  Well done Commissioner Rademacher!

After reading the recent article in the paper written by Congressman Jared Polis, I was compelled to respond. As a fourth generation Farmer/Rancher of Weld County, I can attest the oil and gas industry has been a critical part of Weld County’s heritage for the past 70 years and beyond.

Congressman Polis’ assertion that there are health risks associated with the industry is unfounded, even after many attempts to anecdotally make a connection. He claims that air emissions are making people ill – where are the studies to back up his claims?  On the other hand, you can look to the multiple studies recently commissioned by the Town of Erie to prove their air is safe, despite nearby oil and gas operations. He also claims the industry has de-valued the property in Weld County, which is again contrary to the real data.  
His constant attack on the practice of “fracking” is losing credibility, especially when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and most recently, the Department of Energy (DOE), continually claim the practice is safe.  This is by the current administration which is looking for any excuse to stop the industry.  It shows a lack of common sense on the Congressman’s part.  

The fact remains that over one million wells have been “fracked” across this nation and not one single hydraulic fracturing operation has been shown to contaminate the ground water.  Instead, hydraulic fracturing has led to lower bills for consumers, a renaissance for manufacturers, and a 20-year-low in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., due to less reliance on coal-powered electricity plants.

The oil and gas industry has taken many steps to improve their practices to make operations as environmentally friendly as any other industry that produces energy.  So, is it the mission of Congressman Polis to improve the industry, or to stop it completely? If it is to stop an industry currently creating wealth and jobs, while loosening the grip of the Middle East, is he in favor of sending our young men and women over to fight for something we can produce safely in this country?

Perhaps he would be willing to live without the convenience which fossil fuels bring to his daily life.  He could start by not driving any vehicles, because even the electric cars require electricity to function. He should also forgo the jet rides he enjoys at our expense and start riding a horse back and forth to Washington.  Would he be willing stop buying anything made from plastic and rubber or the medicines and cosmetics made from fossil fuel? I doubt it very much, but if so, I hear there are some caves in Rocky Mountain National Park which he could reside in.  

It is important to acknowledge and mitigate the risks of our energy development, and in Weld County we put significant effort toward doing so.  However, continuing to base a dialogue on groundless assertions with no factual evidence, such as Congressman Polis’ frequent sentiments, is unproductive and damaging to this state’s economic vitality and our country’s energy security.  But then let’s not let the facts get in the way of the truth… 

Weld County Commissioner
Douglas Rademacher

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An Open Letter to the Greeley Tribune Editorial Board: Let the Voters Decide on the 51st State Initiative

In your June 11th, 2013 editorial titled “Commissioners must ensure conversation occurs in wake of secession plan” you wrote that the political leadership at the state capitol “aren’t willing to listen and learn about this (the rural) part of the state.”  I would agree wholeheartedly with that statement. The arrogant and imperious attitude of the politically powerful in Denver is precisely the reason why ideas like the “51st State Initiative” are being discussed and debated at all.

I certainly don’t expect local newspaper editorial boards to embrace legal separation. What conservatives in Greeley do expect, however, is time to analyze the issue and decide whether to support or oppose it by themselves. So far, it seems to me your papers’ inclination is to minimize popular support for the effort. Headlines such as “Northeast Colorado counties favor more representation instead of secession” and “Rural-urban tensions true, say northeast Colorado residents, but few want to form 51st state” are recent examples that highlight this apparent bias. Of course rural Coloradans would rather have their elected representatives reflect the values of those of us living outside the metropolitan Denver area. That would obviously be the preference of every citizen. But is that likely to happen? I would argue it is highly unlikely based on recent history.

To my knowledge, no reputable polling firm has taken the time to conduct a scientific poll on the issue since the public discussion began several weeks ago. As the Greeley Tribune is well aware, on-line polls are decidedly non-scientific and are easily manipulated by activists, cynics, or those with an axe-to-grind.   What on-line polls can do is to frame the debate in a negative light for the supporters or opponents of any particular topic. I would argue that the provocative language of the Tribune’s recent on-line poll (Should the Weld County commissioners table the 51st state proposal?) did just that, and was strongly biased in favor of opponents of the 51st State Initiative.

The Tribune has written in the past that it was a good thing for Weld County Commissioners to, at a minimum, have a ‘conversation’ about the Initiative.  We assumed you meant unbiased and factual conversation.  To that end, might I suggest that at least for the time being, you be more careful about the language you use in your on-line polls, or even better, switch to a method that cannot be so easily manipulated. A minor disclaimer about the on-line poll being “unscientific” is kind of a cop-out if you are trying to push the debate in one direction or another.

The only poll on this topic that means anything will come on Election Day, when voters in Northern Colorado cast their ballots for or against the idea of creating their own state. How about your editorial staff just letting the voters decide for themselves, until that time comes, instead of trying to steer the debate in one direction or another.

Jeffrey T. Hare

The 51st State Initiative

Friday, July 12, 2013

Liberals should be wary of the Bob Roberts Effect

Twenty years ago, liberal icon Tim Robbins made a “mockumentary” ---about a conservative politician named Bob Roberts. The film was a bit of a flop at the box office, but it went on to become a cult classic in the eyes of many young conservatives of the era. In fact, the original folk-songs sung by Tim Robbins’ character in the film, a US Senatorial candidate named Bob Roberts, became so popular with right-wingers, that Robbins actually refused to make a soundtrack of his own film, fearing that his film had caused the exact opposite reaction than he had intended. To this day, the only place you can find these songs is YouTube.

Recently, activists over at Progress New Colorado seem to be falling into the same trap in their attempt to smear Northern Colorado’s growing movement to legally separate from Denver. The Political Director of Progress Now Colorado (Alan Franklin) has recently posted a link on the North Colorado: 51st State Initiative Facebook page.
 See http://northcolorado.us/ which has this picture:

The irony is that in their attempt to mock us, they might have given us some great ideas for a new state flag.  In fact, most of the folks I have spoken to about the flag found it an interesting combination of funny and fitting (perhaps a cow rather than a pig would have been more appropriate).  But everyone loves the crossed AR-15’s, the pitchfork, and the oil rig.

Yes, we are proud of our agricultural heritage as represented by the pig and the pitchfork.  We are thankful for the jobs created by the oil and gas industry and are proud of their continued contribution to our country’s national and economic security. Yes, we are unapologetic supporters of the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights. And most of us value the sanctity of life.

We believe in faith, and freedom, and family.

The fact that this 'flag' was developed and posted on our Facebook page to 'mock' the movement with which most of us identify is indicative of the divide between the rural part of the state from the entrenched liberal and progressive forces that dominate the political establishment in Denver.

The heart of the 51st State Initiative is simple - we just want to be left alone to live our lives without heavy-handed restrictions from the state capitol.  Without the massive over-reach by Democrats in the legislature and Governor’s office, it is doubtful the Fifty First State Movement would even be discussed. If liberals in Denver really have so much disdain for those of us in rural Colorado, then do what grown-ups sometimes do when differences are irreconcilable - grant us our divorce papers.  

We are happy to go our separate ways and are asking to do so through the creation of a new state - that which we call North Colorado. And frankly, we have some pretty good ideas for a new state flag, thanks to our opponents.

Find out more about the 51st State Initiative at: northcolorado.org.