Posts Tagged ‘john hickenlooper’

April, 9, 2014

http://completecolorado.com/

By Michael Sandoval 

The second in a multi-part series.

Top administration officials for Gov. John Hickenlooper asked the Environmental Protection Agency for help killing a 2012 Republican-sponsored water bill that would have saved rural Colorado water districts and their customers millions of dollars, according to recently obtained emails.

Those emails, uncovered by The Competitive Enterprise Institute and CEI senior fellow Chris Horner in October 2013 as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, demonstrate ongoing conversations over several months between officials in the Governor’s Office and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Region 8 EPA Director Jim Martin, all of whom sometimes used private, unofficial emails for official government business.

The emails show that administration officials asked Martin for EPA help defeating the bill in the Democratic-controlled State Senate because Hickenlooper feared political fallout and would not veto the bill if it made it to his desk.

Senate Democrats on the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee voted to postpone indefinitely the water bill in a party-line vote on May 3, 2012. The vote killed the bill before it reached Hickenlooper.

icon_exclusiveAlan Salazar, Chief Strategy Officer to the Governor of the state of Colorado, and Martha Rudolph, director of Environmental Programs for CDPHE, used a combination of unofficial and official email addresses in their communications with Martin, who was also using an unauthorized, private email account to both receive and send emails pertaining to the Colorado regulation and legislation.

Martin resigned from the EPA on February 15, 2012. In response to a separate FOIA seeking Martin’s private emails to environmental activists, the EPA administrator had denied using “his personal account to conduct official business,” according to The Daily Caller.

While Martin offered in his supplemental declaration at the time that he “did not take any action on these emails sent to my personal email account or otherwise rely on these emails in furtherance of EPA business” with regard to the separate emails discovered by CEI’s other FOIA request, Martin repeatedly received, and sometimes responded to, emails from Rudolph and Salazar from 2011 to 2012 obtained by CEI and the Independence Institute.

‘I would like to strategize on this’

Beginning in December 2011 Rudolph, using her official CDPHE email address, contacted Martin’s private me.com account about proposed regulations targeting “nitrogen and phosphorus discharged from wastewater treatment plants into rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs” across the state.

On December 14, 2011, Rudolph forwarded an email to Martin that contained a letter written by regional wastewater managers concerned about the fiscal impact the CDPHE Water Quality Control Division’s proposed 85 and 31 regulations would have on small, rural communities.

Rudolph noted the perceived strength of the arguments laid out in the attached letter (see below)—specifically the lack of a mandate for the new regulations, and the need for the EPA to weigh in on behalf of the regulatory proposal.

“We are likely fighting a losing battle on nutrients, see attached letter. We have met with the Governor’s office, and with the Governor, but I fear the comments in the attached letter will outweigh our arguments in support of the regulation. I believe the assertions that this is not federally required and that there is no required timeframe will be too compelling,” Rudolph wrote in the email.

“So we have been talking over here about the possibility of EPA, at the highest level, having a conversation with the Governor – about the need for the regulation, and specifically what EPA would do if Colorado does not act. I would like to strategize on this, if you think it may be doable. There will also be legislation introduced that would prohibit us from adopting a nutrients regulation. When you have a moment perhaps you could call or we could meet,” Rudolph concluded.

The FOIA does not reveal Martin responding to Rudolph’s pleas for EPA assistance.

‘We don’t want to expose the administration to political fire’

The legislation introduced during the 2012 legislative session that Rudolph mentioned—HB 1161, sponsored by then-Rep. Marsha Looper (R-El Paso)—called for a one-year postponement of the proposed water regulations. The bill ordered a report from a “nutrients scientific advisory board” that would consider cost-benefit analysis and compliance with a previous Hickenlooper executive order against regulations not mandated specifically by law, and unfunded mandates.

The wastewater managers in their December letter to the Governor shared both of those concerns—exceeding federal mandates and imposing onerous costs of compliance.

Salazar, using his AOL account, emailed Martin’s private account about the then-pending legislation and his “Thoughts on Nutrients Response” following the bill’s 8-5 approval from the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources committee to the House Committee on Appropriations on March 12, 2012.

At 2:54 p.m. on March 17 Salazar wrote, “1. My sense is that it’s fine to take some time with the response. Doesn’t have to be soon – maybe better if it’s not too quick. 2. Specificity and direction with regard to the questions posed would also be helpful. 3. We don’t want to expose the administration to political fire, but also need to see language that articulates the hard legal consequences for the state. 4. Deeply sorry (me to you) but you don’t need to put that in the letter.”

Martin responded to Salazar at 5:32 p.m.

“Thanks, Alan. In a session and missed your call. Amazingly easier to do work when you are sitting in a hotel room far away. Hearing rumors of more changes [to the bill] so unsure of how best to proceed. But speed is not our forte, that’s for sure.

Salazar had written to Martin at 4:52 p.m. as well, with a suggested line.

“How about: Dear Governor: It’s a friggin unfunded mandate, so sit and spin… Sincerely.”

“I could try that. But not sure LPJ (Lisa P. Jackson) would let me keep my corner office. Let me tone it down just a tad,” Martin wrote back at 6:17 p.m.

‘We do know that he will not veto Looper’s bill if it passes’

Two days before the House Appropriations committee would send the bill to the Committee of the Whole, Martin reached out to Rudolph’s Gmail account, seeking an update on “Water quality” on March 21, 2012 at 4:06 p.m.

“Any more insights into what is happening? And how was ECOS? I think I owe you a drink, by the way,” Martin wrote.

Rudolph responded to Martin a few hours later, at 8:55 p.m.

“Don’t know what is happening – I believe the Gov is waiting to see what EPA does. I will try to find out (although I was told by several in the Gov’s office that the Gov was going to Ok the rule two days before he/she sent the letter so even those in the inner sanctum don’t really know what is happening) We do know that he will not veto Looper’s bill if it passes. What do you think EPA’s response will be? ECOS was good – nice to get away,” Rudolph emailed.

She added, “Drinks would be great. Any free time in the next couple of weeks?”

The next morning, at 9:01 a.m., Martin responded.

“Thanks. Have not seen Looper’s bill, but will go looking for it. Could do drinks Mon, Tues, Thurs, Friday of next week. But not before noon. Cheers,” Martin wrote.

‘Bottom line – are comments from EPA helpful or hurtful?’

In the final set of emails from April 2012, Martin asks Rudolph what effect is perceived when the EPA weighs on state-level issues, this time on “Water and arsenic.”

“Martha – your vm stopped before you did, I think. Bottom line – are comments from EPA helpful or hurtful?” Martin queried.

“They have been helpful. Bob Benson knows the difficulties associated with selecting a standard that is below detect [sic] but more significantly below treatable levels. He recommended a level that is protective yet I understand is relatively easy to treat to,” Rudolph responded. Benson is a senior EPA employee with water-related expertise.

“Thanks,” Martin wrote back.

Click here to read Part I of the series.

 

 

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By Chuck Slothower Herald staff writer

Article Last Updated: Friday, January 10, 2014 8:49pm

In Durango, governor talks marijuana and business
 As legal recreational marijuana settles in across Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper said he isn’t about to lead the way in promoting marijuana business.

“I hate Colorado having to be the experiment,” he said Friday in an interview with The Durango Herald editorial board.

Colorado has gained international attention for legalizing recreational marijuana sales Jan. 1. Some communities, including Durango, have moratoriums or bans in place.

Hickenlooper said he wants to reduce youth marijuana use, an ambitious goal in a time of greater availability. Hickenlooper pointed to evidence that smoking marijuana harms long-term memory.

“We should not try to get people to do more of what is not a healthy thing,” he said.

Hickenlooper opposed Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in the state. Now that it’s on the books, Hickenlooper said he’s committed to regulating it more strenuously than alcohol.

“We are going to regulate the living daylights out of it,” he said.

Hickenlooper nevertheless called the war on drugs a “dismal failure.”

The Democrat from Denver, entering the final year of his four-year term, covered a range of topics in his visit to Durango fresh off delivering the State of the State address to the Legislature on Thursday. He toured StoneAge Waterblast Tools and met with local business and government officials at the Durango Discovery Museum.

Hickenlooper touted the ability of state agencies to cut through red tape for businesses.

“Our goal here is to make sure we support the business community,” he said.

Julie Westendorff, chairwoman of the Board of County Commissioners, asked Hickenlooper for help improving air service into Durango-La Plata County Airport.

“We can’t control that, but we can probably influence it,” Hickenlooper told her. Saying “the squeaky wheel gets the attention,” the governor urged local officials to continue to lobby for more flights.

Matt Taylor, CEO of Mercury, asked Hickenlooper how Colorado companies can get more attention from investors in other states.

“It’s a bigger challenge here to find money if you’re not in one of those areas where big money is” such as New York or San Francisco, Taylor said.

Hickenlooper said the state has worked to brand itself, and officials have reached out to venture capitalists in other states.

On education, Hickenlooper said he’ll work with the Legislature to pass education reform in “small bites” after voters trounced Amendment 66, which aimed to raise money for schools.

Hickenlooper mentioned measures such as posting school financial data online to provide transparency and boost confidence in education spending.

“People don’t trust the money in education is being spent wisely,” he said.

Hickenlooper also explored ideas for improving the state’s response to wildfires. He has asked the Western Governors Association, of which he is chairman, to study the feasibility of a regional air fleet.

Touching on the controversy over “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, a common drilling technique, Hickenlooper said there needs to be a way for local communities to negotiate with drillers to ensure the best possible environmental mitigation.

Anti-fracking activists are planning to bring a statewide ban to the ballot in 2014.

Hickenlooper will be on the ballot himself, running for re-election against one of a cast of several early Republican hopefuls.

1:44 PM 05/10/2013

http://dailycaller.com

Greg Campbell

Most of Colorado’s congressional delegation and Gov. John Hickenlooper have signed a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration asking the agency to turn the state into a testing ground for unmanned drones — even while acknowledging that the public remains uneasy about how they might be used by both the government and private individuals.

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is leading the charge, touting the state’s varied terrain, its robust aerospace industry and an existing unmanned aircraft program at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

“Colorado has a unique mix of qualifications that makes it ideal for this designation and we urge the FAA to approve our state’s application,” the letter reads. The FAA is considering designating six areas in the United States for drone research.

In a speech at the National Press Club Wednesday, Udall was careful not to use the word “drone” too heavily, opting instead for the industry-preferred “unmanned aerial system,” or UAS.

“The public is well aware of the military applications of unmanned systems, for better or for worse,” he said. “But UASes have begun to demonstrate their potential in any number of other functions. They will certainly reshape the way we do things from search and rescue operations to natural disaster assessment to precision agricultural and resource management.”

“We need to integrate UASes into the American psyche in a way that isn’t threatening or scary,” he continued, noting that the word “drone” carries a stigma because most people associate them with “Hellfire missiles and the headline-grabbing work our government is doing overseas.”

They’re also associated with the concerns from civil liberties groups, including in Colorado, who see the potential for their misuse. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office in Western Colorado has begun using drones for search and rescue.

In a recent National Geographic article highlighting Mesa County’s drone, Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union encapsulated many people’s concerns about the growing use of the technology.

 He worried that it would begin with “mostly unobjectionable” uses, such as supporting police chases or raids, but then creep into spying on Americans under the justification that it’s necessary for national security.

The scenario becomes more worrisome when considering armed drones.

Last year, a Texas sheriff proposed arming one of his department’s drones with weapons that can fire tear gas and rubber bullets, but during a demonstration, the $300,000 drone crashed into the SWAT team’s armored car.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/10/colorado-volunteers-to-fill-its-skies-with-domestic-drones/#ixzz2TBwBhyqm

Posted on: 10:48 am, April 22, 2013, by updated on: 10:49am, April 22, 2013

DENVER — The last two Democratic gun control bills both passed the House on Monday morning with no debate.

One of them, Senate Bill 195, which requires some in-person training for concealed carry permit-holders, passed on a bipartisan 40-24 vote and now heads to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk.

The other, Senate Bill 197, restricts firearms for domestic violence offenders; it passed 36-28 but, because it was amended, must return to the Senate before it heads to the governor.

The entire House Republican caucus voted against the bill, which is just what Democrats wanted — a vote they can use in next year’s election mailers to argue that Republicans are so intractably opposed to gun control measures that they won’t even vote to take them away from violent domestic abusers.

The fight over these final two Senate bills paled in comparison to the long, hard battle over the main pieces of the Democratic gun control package: universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines of 15 rounds or more.

Hickenlooper signed those measures into law last month.

Four Democratic lawmakers are facing nascent recall efforts from angry conservatives and gun right’s groups, but most Republicans are annoyed about the grassroots recall signature drives that, unless successful, will only strengthen the targeted Democrats come next year.

HBC-Champion1

March 1, 2013 8:48 PM

DENVER (CBS4) – A popular hunting shotgun could be banned under one of the bills moving through the state Capitol.

A pump or semi-automatic shotgun is the gun most hunters in Colorado use. It’s a gun state Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, says could be banned under a bill that’s already passed the House and Gov. John Hickenlooper says he’ll sign.

“They’re coming after the standard shotgun,” Brophy told CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd.

read the rest here.