Category: Government

Truman Dinner 2019 – Part 2

This year I was the lead photographer for the Truman Dinner. It was the veritable Who’s Who of the Democratic Party. The keynote speaker was U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The event was held Sept. 21 at the Glenn Miller Ballroom on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. The first part of the event took place on the fifth floor rooftop, where AOC met various representatives within the democratic party, outstanding members of the community, and all of the scholarship winners. The second half of the event covered the awards acknowledging the various accomplishments and contributions within the party over this past year, and then the keynote by AOC. I was sitting on the edge of the stage, twelve feet from the podium, during the entire presentation. There were enough great pictures of the event, I’ll be breaking this into two posts. 

Cheers,
Chris

Truman Dinner 2019 – Part 1

This year I was the lead photographer for the Truman Dinner. It was the veritable Who’s Who of the Democratic Party. The keynote speaker was U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The event was held Sept. 21 at the Glenn Miller Ballroom on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. The first part of the event took place on the fifth floor rooftop, where AOC met various representatives within the democratic party, outstanding members of the community, and all of the scholarship winners. The second half of the event covered the awards acknowledging the various accomplishments and contributions within the party over this past year, and then the keynote by AOC. I was sitting on the edge of the stage, twelve feet from the podium, during the entire presentation. There were enough great pictures of the event, I’ll be breaking this into two posts. 

Cheers,
Chris


Front Range Residents Fight Fracking

Fires, explosions and toxic releases: Front Range residents fight fracking boom. How oil and gas production is devastating Colorado communities and endangering the climate.

For Barb Binder, the bad news arrived with a knock on the door. That’s when she learned from a local activist that a patch of open public space across from her “forever home” in Broomfield County, the Denver suburb where she and her husband planned to retire, was about to become an industrial site.

Initially, she was comforted by the thought that state officials would not possibly allow residential hydraulic fracturing – or fracking, as it is known – to begin if it was not safe.

But two years on Binder feels naive for being so trusting. She believes her asthma has become worse since the construction near her home began, and blames the drilling mud that has been used on the site. And then there is the constant worry. 

“I had to educate myself about exactly what’s involved in industrial-scale fracking,” she says. “It meant looking at the dangers – the fires, the explosions, the toxic releases, and recognising: ‘Oh my God, I am going to be living right next to this.’”

Binder now spends most of her free time opposing the plans of Extraction Oil and Gas, the Denver-based company that has plans to construct 84 wells around her neighborhood, 16 of them “literally” – she says – in her backyard.

She is not alone. Since the advent of the fracking boom in oil-rich Colorado – where there has been a fivefold increase in oil and gas production since 2008 – new wells and production sites have sprung up around residential neighbourhoods in the Front Range faster than environmental researchers can track them.

There are 40,000 active and inactive wells across the Denver basin, and new permits issued every month for more. They are built close to schools, playgrounds, and clusters of family homes.

The boom has coincided with anecdotal tales of ill-effects – from children’s nosebleeds to asthma – and a health study that shows more children being born with congenital heart defects in areas of Colorado with high-intensity oil and gas activity compared with areas where there is low or no activity.

Extraction Oil and Gas told the Guardian it had used new technologies to “minimise the impact of oil and gas development” in the Front Range, compared with the way oil was extracted in previous decades.

A spokesperson said the company had learned some lessons from an incident on its Livingston site, after it voluntarily switched a drilling fluid it had been using because residents complained about the odour. It said air monitoring results had found “no health impact” from the smell.

“To date, all published air-quality monitoring results have been stellar, and conclusively show that any effects of our development on the air we breathe are negligible,” the company said. 

“We understand that there will always be those who oppose all oil and gas development whatsoever, or want to ‘leave it in the ground’, but we will continue our endeavours to minimise impacts of developing the energy we all use each day – and we will never stop innovating for the betterment of Colorado and our state’s economy.”

Yet the conflicts – between industry and residents, and sometimes neighbour versus neighbour – have felt, in the words of the local reporter Chase Woodruff, like a “civil war” at times.

And there have been accidents. In 2017, two men were killed, and a woman and child injured, after a house in Firestone, Colorado, exploded because of a leak of “fugitive gas” from an uncapped pipeline that was connected to a gas well near the home.

Erin Martinez, who lost her husband and brother in the blast, has moved house again after a new well began construction across from her home.

Environmental researchers from the not-for-profit Earthworks group travel from site to site in what sometimes seems like a game of whack-a-mole, using a special gas-finding imaging camera to track, document, and report what they describe as plumes of pollution that are being emitted from the sites, in what they claim is evidence of dangerous releases of methane and other volatile organic compounds that are not visible to the naked eye. 

Oil companies have claimed that the plumes are not evidence of toxic emissions. The industry has claimed the plumes are a “heat signature” caused by high temperature drilling mud.

Dozens of complaints have been filed to state authorities, but regulators have deemed that most of those emissions are in the allowable range.

One proposal that would have forced oil and gas wells to be located at least 2,500ft (760 metres) – or half a mile – from homes and other buildings was voted down on a ballot initiative last year by a vote of 58% to 42%, in a significant blow to anti-fracking activists. 

Oil and gas advocates argue the “setback” proposal would have decimated their operations in Colorado, in effect barring new drilling from the Denver suburbs where nine in 10 new wells are being constructed.

Colorado Rising, one of the leading activist groups in the state, reportedly raised about $1.2m (£1m) to support the initiative, but were outspent when – activists say – industry sources pumped $41m into the race.

Opponents of fracking have, however, won one big victory since then. Last April, Colorado’s new Democratic governor, Jared Polis, signed a new mandate into law that forced one of the state’s most powerful institutions, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), to completely upend its mission.

Instead of fostering the oil and gas industry, Senate bill 181 (SB181) has forced the COGCC to regulate it, with a specific priority on public health and safety and focus on the environment.

The new law has raised questions: about whether a state with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry can ever really change, and whether fears about the climate crisis, and the ill-effects of fracking, will ever make a difference.

For years, the oil sector has argued that Colorado needs the multibillion-dollar industry and the hundreds of thousands of job it sustains.

Sara Loflin, the executive director of the League of Oil and Gas Impacted Coloradans, a campaigning group that helped get SB181 passed, says the legislation was a product of decades of Coloradans living with oil and gas in their communities, and seeing the effect of its pollution: the industrial waste, the bad air, the noise, and the constant low thumping vibrations that have made residents physically ill.

For years, Loflin told the Guardian, locals who were concerned about debris from abandoned sites, or the way soil at a local playground had changed colour, would have to make more than a dozen calls to get answers from public officials, and still be treated with hostility.

Now her organisation is seeking to remind local governments, who have also been given more power under SB181, that they have “the jurisdiction, the right, and the responsibility” to say no to new permits if health and safety is jeopardised.

But despite its legal firepower, there is no sign of rapid change within the Colorado market. At a recent meeting of the COGCC in Thornton, on an unseasonably hot autumn day, residents’ frustrations were aimed at Jeff Robbins, the director of the COGCC, who was appointed by Polis.Advertisement

Since May, Robbins and the COGCC have approved 650 drilling permits and 82 location sites. Some permit applications have been delayed, but not a single one has been denied, despite the COGCC’s new mandate.

Pressed by the Guardian about whether he saw it as his job to say no to industry, Robbins said he believed it was his mission to take “a close look” at permit applications that were located close to homes.

“And that’s exactly what I’m doing,” he said. “What 181 says is that we don’t want to see all of the pending permits get a free pass. And we don’t want to see all pending permits be under a moratorium. It says we want you – director – using objective criteria to permit those that can be permitted, and potentially delay others that can’t be permitted, because they are not protected.”

When he was asked whether the climate crisis would affect the COGCC’s permit allocations under the new law, Robbins said climate could potentially be considered since SB181 required the commission to evaluate the cumulative effects of oil and gas operations on the environment.

But Robbins said he would look for “stakeholder input” for guidance. He meets once a month with environmental activists and residents, and twice a month with industry.Advertisement

For residents like Connie Beach, who returned home from a vacation in November 2017 to a letter that said she would soon be living next to a 30-well mega-pad for drilling, and was told there was “nothing to do about it”, the promise of SB181 is losing its lustre.

On a local Facebook group, people in her neighbourhood post about favoured local candidates who will fight industry. Most end up being challenged by opponents with deep pockets and ties to oil and gas.

Joe Salazar, a former Democratic state legislator and civil rights lawyer who recently became the head of Colorado Rising, is keeping his eye on a proposed fracking site called Acme, which has been described by environmental experts as one of the most problematic in the state of Colorado. Permits have not yet been approved, but if they are, the site will contain 36 wells within 500ft (150 metres) of homes, and 100ft from a small airport runway.

The COGCC recently reopened a public comment period, inviting residents to air their views before the commission makes a decision.

“This is going to be one hell of a test case,” Salazar said. “The community is fighting like hell to get the COGCC to deny that. It really is left to the whims and wishes of the director … that’s why there is so much pressure on him.”

Click here to read the original article

Colorado Rising Files Complaint to Halt O&G Permitting

***PRESS RELEASE***

Colorado Rising – Wednesday October 9, 2019

Colorado Rising Files Complaint to Halt Oil & Gas Permitting in Colorado

COGCC violating due process in permitting of new wells

DENVER, COLORADO — Today, Colorado Rising, on behalf of Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee, filed a complaint requesting judicial review in Denver District Court concerning the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s process of approving new oil and gas permits.

On July 3rd, 2019, Extraction Oil and Gas filed for a permit for a wellbore spacing unit in Broomfield, well after SB-181 was signed into law. SB-181 is the oil and gas reform bill, passed by the state legislature this spring, that requires the prioritization of health and safety, evaluation of cumulative impacts, increased financial assurances for new drilling, among other things.

When mineral owners (Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee) in the area of the spacing unit brought the considerations of the new law to the COGCC’s hearing officer, the officer first expressed concern for not knowing how to proceed with permitting of the spacing unit because no rules where in place to fulfill the new requirements and address the concerns raised (paragraphs 15-17 in the complaint).

Later, Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee requested a stay on the hearing and for discovery to be granted in regards to health and safety, the financial health of Extraction Oil and Gas, and other considerations included in SB-181. Those motions were denied by the hearing officer and Wildgrass was told that the old rules would apply to the permit application. That decision triggered the complaint and request for relief.

Colorado Rising and Wildgrass have requested a stay on all permitting until the full rulemaking has taken place.

Anne Lee Foster, Communications Director for Colorado Rising said, “This case is an example of a systemic problem at the agency. Governor Polis has created a quagmire by flipping oil and gas permitting on its head all while declaring that fracking approvals must continue. Unfortunately, everyday people are the ones caught in the political crossfire and are suffering in their homes due to industrial fracking nearby. Pausing the permits is the responsible thing to do.”

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Colorado Rising is powering the grassroots movement to protect public health & safety from dangerous oil & gas operations.

To learn more, please go to www.corising.org

Meeting AOC & Nancy Pelosi

It’s been a very interesting time for me since I declared my Candidacy in December 2018, long before anyone else even considered entering the race. I’ve been attending various city committee meetings since January 2019, to learn how the current power structures are organized and operate. I’ve knocked on thousands of doors, talked with hundreds of residents, made connections up and down the Front Range. Speaking with Coloradans, Municipalities, Businesses, and Elected Officials that are already implementing the solutions I’ve been talking about during the campaign. I’ve been participating with various local advocacy and education groups including Mom’s Demand Action, Out Boulder County, Sustainable Broomfield, and the Crescent Grange, to name a few. I’m even seen in the background of several press conferences, bill signings, events, and even protests. Sometimes, to stand for Health and Safety, means getting out and protesting. 

Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera

Two of the most unexpected experiences, was meeting two of the most influential women in politics on the National Stage – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. I was the key photographer for the Truman Dinner where AOC was the Keynote Speaker. And Nancy Pelosi’s addressed Health Care at the Interlocken speaking event, where I was wearing my candidacy name tag, and she graciously leaned in and said “Congratulations, thank you for running, and Good Luck!”. The added bonus at the Pelosi event was catching up with the now Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera. I personally canvassed with the Lt. Governor during her last campaign for the Colorado House of Representatives. 

Thank you for this amazing journey. There are still four weeks left before Election Night. If I haven’t already knocked on your door, I will. If you have any questions about issues, where I stand, the solutions I’m proposing, and what research I’m doing, feel free to reach out. 

Cheers,
Chris

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Cleaning Up Abandoned Wells

Cleaning up abandoned wells is proving to be costly to G&O producing states. These wells are called orphaned wells. Orphan wells are when extraction companies abandon their wells and leave the cleanup to the taxpayers.

At the work site in Adams County, Colo., northeast of Denver, the orphan well unit is preparing to close off an abandoned well. 

They have more than 250 of those high-risk wells to cap by 2023, and in the past year they’ve plugged only 10. 

Instead of drilling a mile beneath the surface to extract oil, they’re about to rip pipe out of the ground. In its place, they’ll leave concrete plugs strong enough to seal the hole permanently. 

The well in question is known as an “orphaned well.” When G&O companies go bankrupt or stop taking care of their equipment, their wells fall into the state’s hands. 

Thus, the term “orphaned.”

As the current administration looks to roll back regulations to boost the O&G industry, more states with growing energy production are grappling with how to handle these types of wells, some of which pose a danger to nearby homes and schools. 

The EPA estimates there may be more than 1 million of these orphans scattered across the country. 

Last year in Colorado, the state Legislature approved a tenfold increase in funding for orphaned well cleanup. States like Alabama and Ohio have followed suit. As did Pennsylvania, where the state Department of Environmental Protection estimates there could be up to 560,000 abandoned wells. 

This led to crews like the one working northeast of Denver, which are saddled with demanding schedules, heavy equipment, explosives and other factors that make working conditions dangerous. 

Some orphaned wells are more than 100 years old. Others were drilled within the past decade. Many lack proper state records, meaning crews have to improvise when cleaning them up. 

At the edge of the site, Mike Hickey, an engineer with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s orphan well unit, braces himself for the day ahead. 

“We never operated this well,” Hickey said. “So we’re not completely sure what’s in it until we start pulling it out.”

In front of him, the rig fires up. 

Varying responses 

There are a variety of ways wells become abandoned. The well stops producing, they stop taking care of their equipment, multiple violations to the company, and bankruptcy.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission knows of 275 orphaned wells and 422 associated locations or facilities. There are likely many more. 

In Wyoming, thousands of wells were orphaned in 2014 after a coal bed methane bust. Their owners lacked the money to clean them up, so they became the state’s problem. 

In response, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission expanded its cleanup program. It has since plugged more than 2,300 wells. Crews have also repurposed more than 100 into new water wells. 

Jill Morrison, executive director of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, an environmental group in Wyoming, says every state that has oil and gas is struggling with the cleanup task “because the industry has not been held accountable by the regulators and by the government to pay the cost of doing business.” 

Morrison also worries another bust could put Wyoming’s orphan well program budget over the edge. 

“We’re going to quickly be in the tens of millions of dollars responsible for plugging and reclaiming oil and gas wells if we don’t require upfront bonding,” she said. 

That means making companies pay the full cost of plugging wells even before they start drilling. 

Mark Watson, WOGCC supervisor, says he’s less concerned about a similar situation happening again. He points to a law passed in 2016 that allows the state to examine an operator’s financials prior to drilling. 

“We’re being more proactive with the companies,” Watson said. “We keep a lot closer tab on these operators than we did before.”

But the industry pushes back on the idea.

A week of work

But the state remains concerned about these wells. Colorado has set a deadline of 2023 to get the highest-risk ones plugged.

That includes the well northeast of Denver.

Hickey’s crew uses explosives to crack the rock around the well and then pours in concrete to seal it shut — nearly a week after starting the whole process.

“And then we cut it off 4 feet down, weld a cap on it, put identifying information on that cap, bury it, and sweep the floor,” he says. 

Hickey says his crew is working as hard as it can to meet the state’s 2023 deadline.

“We just got to get them cleaned up,” he says. “They’re not supposed to be this way. They’re contrary to our rules, and it’s our job to fix them.” 

But progress is slow. They have more than 250 of those high-risk wells to cap, and in the past year they’ve plugged only 10. 

The crew hopes to move faster, but it’s still unclear whether it will finish the job in time.

Click Here for the original article

Standing Strong Since 2013

I originally got started with Our Broomfield in 2013 when they needed pictures and help with their website. My wife AnnMarie had already been involved with Our Broomfield, and she was expressing frustration over how much money people wanted to charge for photography and web design. At the time, Our Broomfield was just a handful of concerned parents and citizens, without a budget, trying to educate all of Broomfield as to what fracking was, and trying to prevent it from entering Broomfield. I volunteered to take photographs and donate them. I asked for locations of wells, and then went out for the day to take pictures. I came back with pictures, a headache, and a spotting nosebleed. I was furious. I asked how I could help. And that’s the beginning of what brought me here. 

First Fracking Pictures 2013

Broomfield Days 2013

Protesting in 2014

Joe Neguse Service Town Hall

U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse, Rep. Matt Gray, and Councilwoman Guyleen Castriotta had a service town hall, where residents worked with our elected officials to help stock items for Broomfield FISH. The second half of the gathering was a brief update from the federal, state, and local governments, followed by a Q&A. 

Broomfield FISH is a vital community resource, providing food and financial assistance to Broomfield County residents in need. Services include a thriving food pantry, transportation assistance, rent and utility assistance, and other services. Serving approximately 6,000 people each year.

Judge Re-Opens Voter Approved Longmont Fracking Ban

BOULDER, Colo. – A Boulder County judge on Friday granted a motion to re-open a case over the fracking ban in Longmont, leading to the possibility that an injunction on the ban could be lifted and setting up perhaps a precedent-setting court fight.

The activist groups Colorado Rising and Our Longmont filed the motionearlier this month, asking District Court Judge Nancy Woodruff Salomone to lift the injunction stopping Longmont from enforcing the ban after the passage of SB19-181 this spring, which gave local municipalities more control over oil and gas development.

Salomone ordered the case to be re-opened but did not weigh in on the activists’ requests to lift the injunction, according to court records. The Longmont fracking ban was approved by voters in 2012 but overturned in 2014 and 2016 court decisions.

“We are excited that the District Court ordered this case be reopened,” Colorado Rising attorney Joe Salazar said in a statement Friday evening. “This is an important first step in the long fight to protect Longmont residents and the environment from the harm associated with fracking activities. We stand with Longmont residents to reinstate their voter-approved fracking ban.”

The oil and gas industry and state regulators pushed back against the activists’ motion, saying SB19-181 never intended to outright ban oil and gas development.

Longmont voters approved the ban in 2012 with about 60% of voters supporting the measure.

Salazar, who is a former state lawmaker, said earlier this month that SB19-181 should allow for the reopening of the case and reinstatement of the fracking ban because it allows local governments to have control over oil and gas development within their jurisdictions. He says the law does not explicitly say that cities or counties could not outright ban fracking in order to protect people’s health, welfare and the environment.

Longmont voters approved the ban in 2012 with about 60% of voters supporting the measure. Our Longmont, a group of residents opposed to fracking, was the main driver behind the ballot measure that outlawed fracking within city limits.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Top Operating Company and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) sued to block the ban from going into effect, and the Boulder District Court agreed in 2014, saying that the ban was not in accordance with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Act or the COGCC’s rules.

The court wrote at the time that it should be up to the legislature or another court to make the decision.

Click here for the Motion to Re-Open the Case
Click here for the original article
Click here for the Press Conference at the Capitol

The Millennial Left Is Tired of Waiting

The key political partnership of the Millennial left was born over noodles. Saikat Chakrabarti met Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at Potjanee, a Thai restaurant near his apartment in the West Village, in March 2017. She was looking to get into politics; he was helping fund people getting into politics through the Justice Democrats, the progressive political action committee he’d co-founded that year.

The result has been a viral sensation: a House freshman with more than 4.9 million Twitter followers; a call for a “Green New Deal,” which has become a rallying point for young activists; and—from the cages on the border to the committees on the Hill—a serious powering-up of congressional oversight. This has made Ocasio-Cortez the leader of a movement, not just a congresswoman. Chakrabarti, for his part, has been much more than Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff—he’s become the chief strategist of a generational insurgency. But the political establishment has now trained its fire on their collaboration.

In June, the speaker and her best-known freshman clashed when Nancy Pelosi caved to Republicans and moderate Democrats and agreed to pass an emergency-aid package, skewed heavily right, for the southern border.

The move horrified members of the progressive left—it was bad politics, they thought, typical of their elders’ timidity, and worse still, little in it would help the child migrants in what Ocasio-Cortez had called “concentration camps” on the border. Their pushback against it, which included tweets by Chakrabarti, outraged the party leadership.  

This has made Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, until now little known, a political target. Maureen Dowd branded Chakrabarti “the real instigator” in The New York Times, and Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff and Chicago mayor, labeled him “a snot-nosed punk.” But the backlash is about much more than either of them. What is happening is a containment operation against the Millennial left.

In some ways, my politics overlap with Chakrabarti’s—the Harvard-educated tech millionaire who was a founding engineer at the online-payment company Stripe before volunteering to work for Bernie Sanders—but we have no shortage of disagreements. What we unquestionably share, though, is a Millennial perspective.

We’ve both seen successive promises made by the Boomer elites go horrifically wrong. If you are our age—he’s 33 and I’m 31—the great events that shape your worldview are not a series of Western triumphs, but a succession of spectacular failures. Our formative experiences were the Iraq War, the 2008 financial crisis, and the election of Donald Trump. That makes it hard to defer to a veteran like Pelosi on strategy, when her generation has racked up so many failures.

The Democrats are experiencing a clash of generations. As in all such clashes, each side thinks the other is delusional. When the Millennial left looks at the establishment, it sees leaders senescent with decades in the House, blindly clinging to bipartisan civility that no longer exists, unable to view men like Mitch McConnell as their opponents and not their colleagues, and believing that white voters are the only path to victory in 2020. The Millennials see themselves as the realists here.

The Boomer establishment thinks the opposite, rubbishing the frustrations of the Millennials as naive follies. They see the squad—the name the four freshman congresswomen endorsed by the Justice Democrats, all progressive women of color, have chosen for themselves—on a trajectory that loses the party the white voters it needs to win in 2020. Dismissing talk that minority turnout can make the difference, they want these young representatives to know their place and quiet down.

Both sides insist the party’s midterm victories validate their approach. And with projections that back up both strategies, the approach to 2020 is up for grabs. But, as if Pelosi were determined to prove she was past her prime, she chose to have this fight over the migration crisis—where the new left sees compromise as not only morally abhorrent, but also politically pointless.  

The Millennial left believes that Republicans are pursuing a scorched-earth policy on the border: deploying the Army in electoral theatrics, invoking conspiracy theories centered on George Soros, and painting all Democrats as open-borders fanatics. They took that approach in 2018, and are trying it again in 2020. Why compromise—here?

Pelosi’s attacks backfired, harming both moderates and leftists. What began as an intra-party fight over a bill has morphed into anti–Ilhan Omar chants of “Send her back” at a Trump rally, a development as alarming as it was predictable—forcing the party moderates to stand by Omar’s side.     

And yet it was obvious that Trump would hijack any division. Or at least, it was obvious to anyone who fully recognizes how far American politics has changed since Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel first came to Washington.

In this fight, Saikat Chakrabarti’s wunderkind biography has been turned against him, especially by moderates who have typically favored a softly-softly approach to Silicon Valley. Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, and spent his youth participating in calculator competitions before working at a hedge fund and then a series of start-ups in San Francisco. Perhaps that made him a tempting target for Pelosi, as Big Tech replaces Big Oil as the left’s most-hated industry. But after making his fortune, Chakrabarti rejected Silicon Valley’s ideology in favor of backing antitrust reform and tax increases—volunteering for Sanders in 2015. This is when his generational insurgency began.

Justice Democrats is not the first attempt of this “snot-nosed punk” to remake Democratic politics. Chakrabarti’s initial project, Brand New Congress, was launched in 2016 with other veterans of the Sanders campaign. It didn’t lack for ambition. The group wanted to “recruit over 400 extraordinary ordinary Americans to challenge both Democrats and Republicans in congressional primary races across the country in order to replace almost all of Congress in one fell swoop.” In the end, Brand New Congress recruited just 12—and only Ocasio-Cortez prevailed.

The frustrations of that experience—the country was just too polarized—spurred Chakrabarti to help create the Justice Democrats in January 2017. In place of Brand New Congress’s failed model of bipartisan change, the Justice Democrats declared that they were “working to change the Democratic Party from the inside out.” And that meant an aggressive approach. “Challenging incumbents in primaries is the best way to make them start to listen to people over corporate donors,” the group declared. And, like the successful insurgent groups that transformed the Republican Party, it branded itself as openly radical.

Which brings us to the bigger accusation: They should not be doing this. Sitting Democrats should be respectfully left alone. “They should stop attacking us,” as one House Democrat told CNN. But from the party’s point of view—not the politicians’—I’m not convinced.

Progressive America is overdue for a generational replacement. The unexpected boomlets behind Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg and the Twitter sensation who is now Chakrabarti’s boss reflect an unsated hunger for Millennial politicians. When Pelosi sniped that a “glass of water” could have won Ocasio-Cortez’s district, her dismissive tone revealed how little she understood the dynamics of the Queens representative’s appeal.

Partially, this is because the United States of politicians like Trump, 73; Joe Biden, 76; Bernie, 77; and Pelosi, 79, is starting to feel like a gerontocracy. And this is striking compared with Europe, where Emmanuel Macron is only 41, Boris Johnson is 55, and Matteo Salvini and Pedro Sánchez are 46 and 47, respectively.  

This Congress is among the oldest in history. The average member is 58 in the House and 62 in the Senate, with party leaders nearly a decade older. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is 80. This aging cohort, on too many occasions, has shown itself not fit for purpose on 21st-century issues.

The cringeworthy performance of 44 senators last April trying to hold Mark Zuckerberg, 34, to account was what convinced me we need more Chakrabartis on the Hill—regardless of party—not fewer of them. Senator Orrin Hatch, then 84, used his time to ask the Facebook CEO how he sustained a “free” business model. (“Senator, we run ads,” Zuckerberg replied.)

The party establishment should not be offering jobs for life and a career-protection service. Primary challenges are not new. Nor are the numbers here an unprecedented takeover: The Justice Democrats are currently endorsing just five challengers, and only seven of them are incumbents in the House.

In fact, it was a young challenger who’s responsible for the Democratic Party’s greatest recent electoral success. Barack Obama’s failed challenge to Bobby Rush in the 2000 congressional primary shouldn’t have seen him blackballed. He was 47 when elected president, and his youth played a major role in his candidacy, which saw a Democrat elected between John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, who were both in their 60s when they were the party’s nominees.

But if the strategy isn’t novel, what about the policies the Justice Democrats are advancing?

They are less red than meets the eye. In Europe and across the rest of the Anglophone world, virtually no one would see Medicare for All as radicalism. Not only do British Conservatives and German Christian Democrats support public health care, but the Green New Deal vision of state-led investment reminds me of the politics of my mid-century conservative heroes, including Harold Macmillan and Charles de Gaulle. And, further back, even Alexander Hamilton.

Click here to read the original article


Kickoff Party!

Cleary For Broomfield Kickoff Party!
Date: August 4, 2019
Time: 1-3pm
Where: The Broomfield Crescent Grange – 7901 W 120th Ave, Broomfield, CO 80020

We are so excited & proud to formally kickoff the campaign for Broomfield City Council Ward 3. Come on down to The Broomfield Crescent Grange to celebrate with Chris & AnnMarie at one of the many gems of our Broomfield Community. This is a family event with light fare food, a coloring activity area for kids, and Live music. Mix and mingle with friends, family, advocates, and various supporters from all over Colorado. Come learn about the plans Chris has for Broomfield and how he will go about working to implement them. 

Please visit the facebook events link, confirm if you are able to go, and please give my page a “like”. Thank You! https://www.facebook.com/events/2373128233005968/

Cheers,
Christopher

Special Guest Speakers

Susan McFaddin

Susan McFaddin, PhD, LEED-AP, CEM, HERS-Associate

Specializing in zero and low energy efficient and sustainable commercial and residential properties,  Susan was a Commissioner for the Fort Collins Housing Authority. She also served on the CSU Institute for the Built Environments.  She leads high performance teams, including the one that created the first DOE Zero Energy development in Colorado, and was the 2016 and 2018 DOE Housing Innovation Grand Prize Award Winner and 2017 and 2019 award. Susan is currently the CFO of Solaris Energy LLC, a solar developer providing solar to non-profits, universities, municipalities and Indian tribes. 

Robert Edwards

Robert Edwards

Robert has explored ways to serve the community and has served in the following organizations that he felt resonated with him. Robert has been an active Big Brother since 2014. He serves on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado Board of Directors, and is on the Board Finance Committee and the Board Diversity Outreach Committee. Robert served on the Human Rights Campaign Colorado Steering Committee and Project Angel Heart. Robert’s mission is to ensure that all people have a safe place in this world and to know they are not alone.

Guyleen Castriotta

Guyleen Castriotta

Guyleen was elected to represent Ward 5 on Broomfield City Council in 2017.  She decided to run for office because she recognized that women and minorities were underrepresented in all levels of government.  She’s always wanted to be an agent for positive change and doing what’s right. She believes we are put on this earth to help one another, to being of service to our community and taking action to improve the lives of others.

AnnMarie Cleary

AnnMarie Cleary

AnnMarie, my wife and partner in life, has been a longtime outspoken advocate for Broomfield and Colorado. Participating in multiple advocacy groups since 2013, and worked to bring various ballot measures to the voting booth such as 300, 301, and 112. She has been recognized for her work, and has appeared in various magazines and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal.

Musical Guest – Randy Bonnom

Randy Bonnom

Randy Bonnom
With long roots in the era of folk, Randy is a nice, casual throw back to folk roots with a kind, authentic presence not often found in contemporary music. Enjoy the visuals of the lyrics, the catchy musical phrases, and don’t be surprised to find yourself humming the tune later…
You Can find Randy on the web at:
http://www.randybonnom.com/ListeningRoom.html
You Can Find His Single Here:
https://music.apple.com/us/album/favorite-heartbeat-single/651023532

Broomfield Passes Six-Month Oil & Gas Moratorium

Processing, approval of applications on hold until Dec. 4

Broomfield officials have enacted a six-month oil and gas moratorium aimed at giving the city time to update local ordinances to be more in line with the newly-passed state law that gives municipalities more control over such matters.

The moratorium, approved at the May 28 city council meeting, will halt until Dec. 4 the processing or approval of applications for use by special review or operator agreements to allow oil and gas operations in Broomfield.

Several residents came to speak in favor of the moratorium and Chris McGowne, who identified himself as the associate director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, came to speak against.

Residents in favor of the moratorium said they think it will give Broomfield time to dissect what can be done and revisit Issue 301 – a voter initiative that passed by a 57 % vote in 2017.

Essentially, the measure requires any vote about oil and gas development in Broomfield to consider the negative effects that the decision could have on residents. It requires the consideration of health and safety of Broomfield citizens to be the primary metric by which oil and gas decisions are made.

Some pointed out that rulemaking “hasn’t even begun” at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and that Broomfield needs time to work on their own regulations.

McGowne brought up the same concerns he shared at a May 14 meeting when this moratorium came up for a first reading. He said companies that are members of the council always have benefited from a positive, collaborative and engaging relationship with Broomfield and that members always have taken a “pragmatic and proactive” approach to working with Broomfield and hope to continue to do so in the future.

McGowne said he understands the city wants to codify the new regulations, but that this moratorium is not needed to take such an action. Instead, he sees the action as a way to delay oil and gas development for as “long a time frame as possible.”

Ward 1 Councilwoman Elizabeth Law-Evans directed one response to McGowne, saying Broomfield has no intention of banning or keeping industry work constantly halted by a moratorium. The goal is to update regulations per the new state law, she said, adding an apology if she gave him a different impression.

If Broomfield didn’t have any permits pending, Ward 2 Councilman Mike Shelton said he wouldn’t know how to feel about a moratorium.

“I want to believe that the oil and gas companies want to produce this product and respect everybody that’s around them,” he said. “I just haven’t seen it that way. I haven’t seen it be positive, I haven’t seen it be collaborative, and I haven’t seen them be proactive about it. We defiantly need a six-month moratorium if we’re going to have Crestone (Peak Resources) operate under new regulations and not the ones we had so long ago.”

Members of council brought up the idea of a moratorium at previous meetings as a way to give city officials time to react to the passage of Senate Bill 181, which changes the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and authorizes local governments to exercise additional regulatory authority over oil and gas operations without being preempted by state law. Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law on April 16.

Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., in October 2017 signed an operator agreement with Broomfield to drill up to 84 new wells on six sites, which is not impacted by the new state law. Crews [split verb comment=”are “]currently are drilling on the Interchange B Pad south of the Northwest Parkway and between Interstate 25 and Huron Street.

Broomfield amended its oil and gas land use regulations in July and again in March, when the city increased setbacks of residential and “sensitive use developments” to oil and gas well sites.

The new law grants local governments more authority to regulate surface operations and nuisance impacts of oil and gas operations.

At an April 9 meeting, council members asked staff to review and begin drafting amendments to the Broomfield oil and gas ordinance to implement the broader authority granted by the law.

In late March, Adams County commissioners passed a moratorium, which can extend up to six months, for new applications for oil and gas drilling permits. Last month, Lafayette extended a moratorium that the council initially approved in November 2017.

The American Petroleum Institute issued a news release Tuesday evening, claiming Broomfield is the seventh Colorado community to enact a moratorium since SB 181 passed.

“We are disappointed that Broomfield City Council has chosen to impose a moratorium on new energy development. Its decision is misguided and harmful to our state,” Colorado Petroleum Council Executive Director Lynn Granger said about Broomfield’s vote. “Our industry prioritizes public health and safety and continues to take proactive measures to ensure that energy development is done safely and responsibly in collaboration with the priorities of Colorado communities. Nothing about Senate Bill 181 has changed our industry’s leadership role in environmental stewardship.”

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