Anti-Energy Collaborative Effort in Colorado

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on October 31, 2008

in Politics

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

Over at my Web site I've posted a long, blow-by-blow account of how Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and his administration repeatedly enlisted the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to pay for his global warming alarmist agenda (a "new energy economy") and for his efforts to keep the federal Bureau of Land Management from leasing for oil and gas exploration on the Roan Plateau. It's sometimes a dry recitation but there are a ton of documents linked that I obtained from the governor's office and from CDNR.

The quick-'n-dirty summary: Almost immediately after he took office Ritter had a "Climate Action Plan" he wanted to pursue, which included two new positions in his administration: a cabinet-level climate policy adviser to create "a bold and visionary climate action policy," and a liaison to the Public Utilities Commission to "develop a climate-wise utility policy." He asked for, and got, two annual grants from Hewlett for $200,000 ($400,000 total) to fund the positions. Ritter worked through Hewlett's environmental program director Hal Harvey — a far-left, Obama-supporting (and -contributing) environmental extremist who founded the Energy Foundation and is president of the crackpot enviro/population control-advocating New-Land Foundation — to pay for his climate people. I guess the state budget process would not come up with the money fast enough for Ritter.

Within a few months Ritter had another environmental cause to fight: obstructing and delaying the Bureau of Land Management from leasing the rights to oil and natural gas exploration on the rich Roan Plateau. It had been ten years already since BLM was given the mandate to lease the Naval Oil and Shale Reserves, and it was finally ready to start doing so after years of environmental study and review. But that still wasn't long enough for Ritter, his eco-cronies, Reps. Mark Udall and John Salazar, and Sen. Ken Salazar (pictured). All got involved in trying to further delay BLM.

Part of the strategy was for Ritter's administration to make the case for much slower "phased leasing" of acreage on the Roan, as opposed to the BLM's somewhat quicker but still limited and methodical approach. The governor's Department of Natural Resources sought out (and found) a cheap economist who would be willing to put together a vague case that showed phased leasing was a better idea that would reap better revenues for the state. And can you guess who they asked to pay for said cheap economist? Yep — the Hewlett Foundation, with Hal Harvey more than happy to help out. In fact, Harvey wanted to help so much that he gave campaign contributions to both Salazars and Udall as well.

The congressmen worked at the federal level to implement Ritter's phased leasing goals, with Sen. Salazar's legal counsel begging for the suspect economic analysis to buttress his case. But the congressmen's and Ritter's efforts fell short of their goals, as BLM moved forward with the leasing, which netted nearly $114 million for both the federal and state governments — "the highest grossing onshore oil and natural gas lease sale in BLM history in the lower 48 states."

Nevertheless, it's a sorry tale of how environmental extremists will fight together to the death for measures that would cripple our access to our own sources of affordable energy.

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