So, we have a story in this week’s issue about the tens of millions of dollars the state uses to compensate communities for their losses when oil and gas companies and other land pillagers move in, do their business, then pull out, so to speak.
Apparently, state officials believe that counties, cities and even school districts have the right to be reimbursed when something of value is taken from them, whether it’s their health or the natural gas under their feet.
To hear the director of the department that administers the funds tell it, the minerals, oil and gas in the earth are resources owned by the people, and those people should be repaid when that asset is taken from them.
Or at least be given a lollipop after getting a shot in the ass.
But doesn’t that fly in the face of what his boss, Gov. Frackenlooper, has been saying? The governor’s line is that the lease-holding oil and gas companies have all rights to the resource, and that no measly municipality like Longmont can dare pass a ban on fracking, because that would deter the companies’ ability to access their resources, resources that the people have no rights to.
Granted, this state assistance fund was created by the legislature decades ago, well before the governor got his first whiff of frack fluid, so he may have a different opinion than, um, state law, but you can’t have it both ways, folks.
You can’t claim that fracking and other oil and gas operations are perfectly safe, and sue municipalities that have the gall to pass bans on certain practices, and then turn around and acknowledge that these operators are taking the people’s resources and leaving behind a bag of shit that costs tens of millions of dollars to make up for.
You can’t pretend like there are no serious impacts involved with oil and gas operations, then turn around and compensate people for — you guessed it — those impacts.
Our favorite was the Colorado county that used one of those state grants to buy … wait for it … a wind turbine.
AND IN THE LEFT CORNER …
Speaking of Frackenlooper, we can’t wait for him to debate our newest county commissioner, Elise Jones, over the fracking issue.
But we’ve got to point out that it would have been a much livelier debate if Garry Sanfaçon had beaten Jones in the commissioner race last fall, because one of Sanfaçon’s main platforms was banning fracking outright in Boulder County.
We journalists always like a good fight, and that would have been a humdinger. Jones, while clearly opposed to fracking, is buddies with the governor and seems more willing to compromise, to acknowledge that with the exception of some gray areas, the state has more power to regulate oil and gas than local governments. Like she told us during candidate interviews last year, “There isn’t a silver bullet, but there’s a lot of silver buckshot.”
She’s a reasonable, pragmatic consensus builder, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s just that we hope to see some fire from her when she takes on the governor April 1. We hope the term “debate” is not a misnomer. We really hope they don’t start speaking in unison.
After all, that’s why we elected Jones — to represent the views of her constituents, who seem to be yelling pretty clearly: “Slow the frack down until the science catches up!”
ANOTHER HICK LICK
Finally, we must take the governor task once again for his reaction to a Denver TV reporter who had the gall to ask whether he pulled strings to get a friend’s son out of prison — a son that has gone on to be accused of murdering Hick’s Department of Corrections chief, Tom Clements. When the TV reporter pressed him on the issue, mentioning that the suspect’s father had contributed to the governor’s campaign, Hickenlooper lashed out, calling it a “stupid question” and then making it even worse for himself by threatening to yank the reporter’s access to the governor’s office.
“I mean, that’s your choice,” he said, “but you lose your ability to have access when you treat people like that.”
We, for one, can’t wait for the voters to get the opportunity to take away this guy’s access to the governor’s office.