For now, Blue Book analysis of Prop DD is all wet

0
A proposal awaiting final regulatory approval would raise the dam at Gross Reservoir 131 feet.
Joel Dyer

Here we go again. Every election cycle we get to peruse the Legislative Council’s Blue Book, which is supposed to guide us in an unbiased manner as to the pros and cons of measures that will be appearing on our statewide ballots. And every year the concept of “unbiased” gets strained beyond recognition. This year is sadly no exception to this trend… that is, unless the Blue Book changes its current proposed language regarding Proposition DD.

As most of you are painfully aware, in past election cycles anti-fracking propositions have been so poorly explained by the Blue Book that it seemed the folks in charge of the Legislative Council, whoever they are, must have had their entire retirement fund sitting in Anadarko and Noble stock. Well, this year it’s water that’s getting the biased Blue Book treatment, but don’t expect to hear about that in the news, which I’ll explain in a minute.

Prop DD contains about the vaguest language I’ve ever read on a proposed measure. If the folks trying to save the planet from global warming and protect our health from fracking had written something this nonspecific, their amendment would have been tossed out the door in two seconds. But the big money is behind Prop DD so apparently anything goes, even if it means none of us have any idea what we’re actually voting for.

In reality, I believe Prop DD is a trial balloon to see if taxpayers are actually willing to fund the for-profit schemes of the impact investors who intend to use Colorado River water and other critical water sources in the West to generate their return on investments. 

Prop DD basically says that sports gambling will be made legal and that taxes on sports gambling will go to fund “water projects.” There you go, a sin tax to fund water projects.

But before you vote “yes” because you don’t gamble, don’t give a rat’s ass about people who do, and think that this measure might somehow help you build a pool in your backyard, think again.

Don’t get me wrong. You’re not stupid for thinking that. After all, what is a “water project?” You don’t know, I don’t know, and therein lies the problem and the deception of Prop DD.

As it stands now, the Blue Book tells us that Prop DD will raise $29 million per year with $27.2 million of that going toward water projects, which it describes as follows:

“Water projects that address the state’s water needs and other water related obligations including projects related to water storage, conservation, land use, water education, agriculture and recreation.”

So, it’s possible that your pool might fall under this vague description but I just can’t say for sure. But here’s where the Blue Book loses all credibility. 

It says the argument for Prop DD  is that water is a scarce resource in Colorado, and that it’s needed for agriculture, recreation and industrial purposes, and that our economy and way of life will suffer if the state cannot meet its water demands.

Then is describes the argument against Prop DD like this: Taxes collected on sports betting proceeds will not provide enough money for water related projects.

I’m not kidding. It says that. Vote for Prop DD to save your way of life because the only problem with Prop DD is that it doesn’t do more to save your way of life. 

Don’t worry, taxpayers, if you show you’re willing to vote for this tax, you’ll be getting plenty more chances to save your way of life with more taxes for “water projects” in the near future. The state says it already needs $100 million a year right now for water projects and some critics claim it will actually need 10 times that amount if it continues with its current plans to dam and divert even as the world keeps getting warmer.

So, what the heck is a “water project” and what are the actual arguments against voting for Prop DD?

Well, to get the answer to that question I spent all of about two minutes doing the research that has apparently evaded the crack staff of the Colorado Legislative Council. 

There is only one Issue Committee in the entire state that has legally registered to oppose Prop DD. It’s called Coloradans for Climate Justice and it’s been trying to get its objections to this proposition into the Blue Book for some time. But so far it has been ignored by the Legislative Council.  Here are a few of that group’s arguments, which were provided by the organization’s Registered Agent Gary Wockner:

1. “The ‘water projects’ to be funded by this tax increase are completely unspecified, and thus this is a ‘blank check’ to the legislature to spend the money on whatever whims they might call a ‘water project,’ which could include providing even more state taxpayer-subsidized water to the fracking industry.”

2. “‘Water projects’ often include new dams and diversions on our rivers, which are exorbitantly expensive and extremely environmentally damaging.”

3. “Prop DD proposes to raise taxes on Coloradans to pay for the damage caused by climate change on our water supply systems. Setting the precedent of raising taxes on working- and middle-class Coloradans to pay for the damage caused by climate change is an extreme assault on climate justice that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars per year. If taxes are to be raised, they should be raised on entities that caused climate change, principally the fossil fuel corporations, not the Colorado taxpayer.”

Wow, those are better arguments against Prop DD than the Blue Book’s fear that the measure doesn’t raise enough money for water projects.

And here’s a couple more arguments against. If Prop DD passes and we build the new dams and reservoirs it will fund in order to divert water from the Colorado River basin to the Front Range for the purpose of placating developers who want more growth and sprawl to increase profits, we will kill the Colorado River. 

And as I said earlier, water impact investors are already buying water rights and even large ranches and farms across the West in order to get their hands on still more water, which they intend to sell for a profit. So in the end, who do you think is going to buy that water and pay for that profit? I’m afraid the only logical answer is you by way of your local and state governments using your tax dollars. 

And you’d be hearing more about this impact investing scheme except for the fact that the people pushing it, the Walton Family Trust and its pals, are the same people funding all the environmental groups supposedly fighting to save the Colorado River; all the academics supposedly researching how to save the Colorado River; and virtually all the news organizations supposedly doing water reporting as part of their effort to be watchdogs over the Colorado River. (I’ll only believe that last one isn’t true when news orgs taking Walton money start doing some investigative reporting on the real impact of impact investing and where the profits will come from and at whose expense. Don’t hold your breath.) 

Like I said, Prop DD is likely just the trial balloon and more taxes are coming as we continue to divert and waste more water instead of working to reduce water consumption and growth, which apparently isn’t a good strategy for impact investment.

Want to place a sports bet? Please just call your bookie, fly to Vegas or bet among friends. Just don’t kill the Colorado River to make your fun a little more convenient.