Archive for the ‘Environmental Regulations’ Category

The environmental agenda has been infected by extremism—it’s become an economic suicide pact. And Free Market America is here to challenge it. Visit www.freemarketamerica.org

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Yesterday President Obama announced that he would disregard the U.S. Constitution and act without the approval of Congress.

Following is a link to an article written by Todd Gaziano with The Heritage Foundation. The article will explain why President Obama’s action yesterday to appoint Richard Cordray to serve as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is unconstitutional.

This isn’t the first time that Obama has gone around Congress. How about the implementation of environmental regulations, the lack of enforcement of immigration law, the selective enforcement of voting rights, and the regulation on the Internet?

As Todd Gaziano said, in an interview last month with 60 Minutes, the President gave warning of his intentions to preside over an imperial presidency for the next year. “What I’m not gonna do is wait for Congress,” he said. “So wherever we have an opportunity and I have the executive authority to go ahead and get some things done, we’re just gonna go ahead and do ’em.”

Obama has been testing Congress for the last three years, and they haven’t done anything about it, and so now he is taking it a step further and acting without executive authority.

What I want to know it what is the Congress going to do about it? What are the Republicans in Congress going to do about it? President Obama has violated his oath office numerous times. It is past due for the Congress to impeach him.

It is time for another Rick Santelli moment for the Tea Party. If our elected representatives in Congress won’t address the issues that are facing our Nation, then it is time to replace them with someone who will! And that includes Rep. Cory Gardner.


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Tuesday, December 20 at 7 pm, the Estes Park Town Board will consider a resolution to offer comments on a new power line to be constructed by the Western Area Power Authority (WAPA).  WAPA is a power marketing administration within the Federal Department of Energy, which distributes and markets hydroelectric power in 14 states.  WAPA is therefore charged with distributing power from our local dam.

WAPA wants to replace two older existing transmission lines with a single, larger set of lines from Estes Park to Flat Iron near Lyons.  WAPA’s favored power line route will have a major impact on a residential neighborhood near Highway 36.

Once WAPA made its plans public, it began encountering public criticism.  Neighborhood activists have already obtained substantial media coverage, including stories in the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Longmont Times-Call, Fort Collins Coloradoan and Estes Park Trail-Gazette.  The Trail-Gazette gives the most detailed description of the project. Channel 9 News broadcast a report highlighting what the proposed route might look like at the scenic overlook on Highway 36.

See the video here

The debate is over two potential steel pole routes from the east side of Estes Park.  This is not an all or nothing choice.  Both routes follow existing easements.  WAPA prefers the route along Highway 36.  The alternate route would impact fewer residents and be less visually intrusive.  The alternative, northern route is also shorter and more direct.  This shorter route could still be more expensive because the existing easement would need to be widened and there is no existing service road.

One point to make clear:  the 185 property owners in Meadowdale Hills Park Hill and Ravencrest are not asking that the power lines be buried in their neighborhood or along Route 36.  Some of the news stories suggested they were.  People in the Estes Valley have long suggested burying the power lines that cross Lake Estes along Highway 36, but that is a different section of the power line.  There is no current proposal by WAPA to replace the section of the power lines that runs along Lake Estes.

No matter which of the two existing right-of-ways is chosen for the larger towers, some property owners will be negatively affected.   The largest private property, affected by both routes, is the Crocker Ranch.  It is unclear whether the smaller property owners will be entitled to greater compensation for their easement due to the much higher height of the proposed steel structures.  Crocker Ranch would likely demand compensation for widening the easement along the northern route.  It is unclear whether WAPA would surrender one of its easement routes through this process.

Valuing utility easements is apparently not a straightforward calculation, with utilities favoring methods that produce minimal compensation.   There is an extensive list of studies about the impact of overhead power lines on property values.  A property owner concerned about transmission lines might want to look at this article:  “Power Lines and Property Values.”  Another summary describes the impact as a less than 10% decrease in total value, but up to 15%.  It is unclear how increasing the size of the towers will impact property values.

For Estes Valley residents, the potential negative impact on tourism is a concern.  In the U.K, the push for green energy is leading to a revamp of transmission systems.  In some cases, local Conservative Party members are spearheading opposition to such plans due to their negative impacts on rural tourism.

For more information about the property owners’ perspective, you can visit  http://www.responsiblelines.org/.  Here’s a handy map of the proposed and existing routes.

WAPA is accepting public comments at EstesFlatironEA@wapa.gov, but act fast.  The public comment period appears to end January 3rd.

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On Thursday November 17th Freedom Works and Tea Party activists from across the country were to present the Tea Party Debt Commission Plan before a joint hearing of Senators and Congressmen. It was supposed to stream live on C-SPAN.

Before the meeting was to begin, the Democrat controlled Senate Rules Committee, headed up by none other than Chuck Schumer, ordered their staff to remove the microphones that had been set up for the event and had Capital Police block the doors to the hearing room, which had been reserved by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah). At the same time, a “suspicious package” was reported in the room next door and everyone was  barred from the area.

Here is a link to the video of what happened. http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/thale/matt-kibbe-and-others-react-to-the-eviction-of-the?source=tpdc

The Tea Party Debt Commission Plan will balance the federal budget and cut $9.7 trillion in spending over the next 10 years. Following are the highlights of the plan.

The Tea Party Debt Commission Plan will;

* Cut, cap, and balance federal spending

* Balance the federal budget in four years without any tax hikes

* Reduce federal spending by $9.7 trillion over ten years

* Shrink the federal government to 16% of GDP

* Stop the growth of debt, and begin paying it down

To achieve these goals, the plan

* Repeals Obamacare

* Eliminates the Department of Energy, Education, Commerce, and HUD, and privatizes the EPA, TSA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac

* Ends farm subsidies, government student loans, and foreign aid to countries that don’t support us

* Saves Social Security

* Gives Medicare seniors the right to opt into the Congressional health care plan

* Suspends pension contributions and COLAs for Members of Congress, whenever the budget is in deficit

The Tea Party Debt Commission developed a comprehensive plan that far exceeds what the Supercommittee was unable to do, all without raising taxes.

The entire plan can be found at the following website. http://www.freedomworks.org/the-tea-party-budget


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Last Thursday the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) voted 5-1 to exclude the Estes Valley from the current Front Range auto emissions testing program.  Three commission members were absent.

Mr. Doug Decker from the Air Pollution Control Division described adding the Estes Park area as the “final expansion of the Northern Front Range program.”  He presented a model of air flows from July 2, 2007 to demonstrate that air from the Estes valley flows to the Front Range and therefore contributes to regional air quality problems.  Staff estimated that the program would reduce emissions by 36 tons per year.  Staff’s cost estimate was that the costs of the program would be about 15 percent higher than the program for the rest of Larimer County and the Front Range testing area.

Mr. Decker conceded that the cost estimates had originally been based on a shorter “crow flies” distance between Estes Park and the Loveland inspection station.  Still, Control Division staff did not propose any alternatives to fixed station testing, with the nearest testing station 35 miles or more by car from Estes Valley residents.    “One trip every two years is not unreasonable,”  said Mr. Decker, noting that many residents could combine that trip with shopping or other errands in the Front Range.

Mr. Decker also suggested that 22 to 25% of residents would be excused from fixed point testing due to road-side “clean screen” testing.  Staff arranged for mobile testing to occur in Estes Park prior to the hearing.  One Commissioner asked pointed questions about who funded clean screen testing in an area not yet subject to mandatory testing.

Questions from the Commission members suggested that they shared some of the same concerns as our local elected officials.  In March 2010, the boundaries for mandatory testing excluded much of rural Weld County due to the distance to testing stations and small number of vehicles that were excluded.

Commissioners also challenged the contention that they had already decided to include Estes Park in the testing area.  Senate Bill 09-003 directed the AQCC to consider exclusion of areas from testing based upon air quality control science, and the impact of testing upon the public.

During public comment, State Senator Kevin Lundberg directly challenged the contention that Estes Park was already included in the testing area.  He explained that SB 09-003 only included Estes Park as a potential testing area.  “It is up to you to decide.” said Senator Lundberg.  Senator Lundberg explained his own experience with emissions testing.  He sold a pickup to a Cheyenne buyer, knowing it would not pass emissions testing.  He then purchased a used Suburban and had to undergo four tests before it passed.  He urged the AQCC to make their decision “based on the people, not the sales pitch.”

Estes Park Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Levine and Trustee Mark Elrod both spoke against expanding the program to Estes Park.  Trustee Elrod described the animated model of air flows as a “form of entertainment.”  Mr. Decker later responded by explaining that the model was based upon meteorological data.

Lindsey Lamson of the Local Marketing District explained that their Board also opposed the expanded program.  “The costs of the program outweigh the minuscule benefit.”

Public comment overwhelmingly opposed expanding the program to Estes Park.  There were many telling comments.  The testing would be especially burdensome for working people who would need to miss work without pay to be tested.  Part-year residents would find it very difficult to comply when they were out of state.  One resident challenged the use of July 2nd as the model.  “July 2nd is the worst traffic in Estes Park.  Most of us locals stay home on the July 4th weekend.”  He also contended that a lot of part-year residents would simply register elsewhere.

One woman urged perspective.  The 75 parts per billion standard involves tiny amounts.  “One billion seconds is 32 years. It’s a matter of perspective and we’ve lost it.”

A local activist came to ask for emissions testing, then changed her mind.  “I want emissions testing and I want clean air,” she said.  But after hearing the public comments she decided to support the people in opposition to testing.

An editor of TeaLiberty.com presented official statistics demonstrating that Estes Park is very different from the Denver Metro area.  Staff’s cost-benefit analysis used Denver metro driving data to support its benefit estimates.  In the Estes Park zip code, 25.2% of residents are 65 years old or older.  The statewide figure is 10.9%, meaning Estes Park has over 14% more senior drivers than the rest of Colorado.  Federal Highway Administration data demonstrates that seniors drive only 57% as many miles as the average driver.  In addition, commuters in the Estes Park zip code have commutes of 16 minutes, versus the Denver metro mean of 24.5 minutes.  Even Estes Park’s working age population drives far fewer miles than the typical Denver metro resident.

County Commissioner Tom Donnelly then presented several arguments for excluding Estes Park from the testing area.  Commissioner Donnelly’s statistical information echoed many of the public comments about the uniqueness of Estes compared to the Front Range.  Commissioner Donnelly also explained the huge impact of tourist traffic on air quality during the summer.

Evelyn King of Citizens for Larimer and Weld County stressed that citizens do not object to programs that work.  “We were deceived” when the program first started in 2007, since tens of millions of dollars have been spent on auto testing yet ozone readings are higher today, not lower.  Ms. King submitted data demonstrating that the Front Range auto emissions testing program was expected to reduce ozone readings by 6/10ths of one percent.   Estes Park was estimated to provide just 4/100ths of one percent of the total expected NOx reductions.  “We thought the reductions for Larimer County were ridiculously small, but Estes Park is even worse,” said Ms. King.  “It can’t possibly be measured.”

Commissioner comments and questions followed from many of the public comments.  Commissioner John Loewy said “the Commission is a citizen overlay” intended to ensure that decisions are made by the citizenry rather than just a bureaucracy.  Some commissioners expressed the wish that staff had presented more alternatives for implementing the program in mountain communities.   There was some debate over whether the AQCC would have the existing authority to add Estes Park into the testing area in the future, or whether legislative action would be needed.

After some extended whispering among the commission members, the Commission adopted a motion to approve Larimer County and Estes Park’s suggested action:  remove Estes Park from the testing area boundaries.


Tealiberty.com thanks Estes Park Tea Party Patriot supporters and other local citizens who attended the hearing.  Public participation provided crucial support.  Special thanks are also due to County Commissioner Tom Donnelly, who presented on behalf of the County Commission and the Town of Estes Park, and Evelyn King, who gave a presentation on behalf of Citizens of Larimer and Weld County.  Several supporters of the citizens group came from Loveland and beyond to support the effort.  Public comment and attendance was crucial in supporting Commissioner Donnelly’s presentation.   Liberty groups should consider this a success for the movement toward government accountability and removing burdensome regulations that achieve little or no benefits.

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The hearing on auto emissions testing for the Estes area will be on Thursday, starting at 12:30 pm in the Town Board Room, Municipal Building, 130 MacGregor Ave., Estes Park.

Barack Obama gave up on more stringent ozone standards.  There are lots of reasons to conclude that imposing auto emissions testing in Estes Park will be more burdensome and costly to local residents with less benefit than from any previous Colorado testing area.  Learn more here:   http://www.eptrail.com/estes-park-columnists/ci_18853177

Let’s have a lot of liberty-minded folks turn out for the hearing.

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As of last Friday, there was no reply from the Governor’s office to Mayor Pinkham’s request. 


The Town of Estes Park wrote recently to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to object to indirect lobbying by state employees in favor of auto emissions testing for the Estes Valley.  Staff of the Air Pollution Control Division urged local auto mechanics to lobby the Air Quality Control Commision (AQCC) to adopt emissions testing for Estes at a September 15 Public Rulemaking Hearing.  Staff efforts also included offering local mechanics the first chance to enroll in state classes in emissions repair salesmanship with food and refreshments included.

After describing such efforts,  Estes Park Mayor William C. Pinkham politely states “we request state employees refrain from further outreach of this nature in Estes Park until the issue is decided in September.”  Mayor Pinkham’s letter also summarizes the reasons why the Town Board of Estes Park and the Larimer County Commissioners oppose emissions testing for the Estes valley.   The Mayor’s letter was prompted by Town Trustee Jerry Miller, who raised the issue at a July 12 Town Board meeting.

It appears that Air Pollution Control Division staff responded to the Mayor’s letter by implementing remote emissions testing in Estes Park before the rulemaking hearing.   Let’s hope that Governor Hickenlooper is as broadminded about the excessive costs of rural testing for auto emissions as he has been about the safety of fracking. 

TeaLiberty.com thanks our elected officials for objecting to Control Division’s effort to enlist “vested interests” in their efforts to cram down auto emissions testing in the High Country.   The Public Rulemaking Hearing will be held on September 15 at 12:30 pm in Estes Park’s Municipal Building.  State staff made up their minds a long time ago, but it remains for the AQCC to actually approve–or deny–rules implementing emissions testing for Estes Park.

Mayor Pinkham was recently appointed to the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission (“IEC”) as an unaffiliated member.    The IEC was created by the passage of statewide ballot Amendment 41  in 2006.

TeaLiberty.com  reproduces the text of Mayor Pinkham’s letter below:

TOWN OF ESTES PARK [letterhead]

August 2, 2011

John W. Hickenlooper, Governor
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203-1792

Dear Governor Hickenlooper:

SUBJECT:  Air Pollution Control Division employee communications with Estes Park auto repair businesses

On behalf of the Estes Park Town Board of Trustees, I request your attention to a matter related to state-proposed vehicle emissions testing in Estes Park.  The Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) is considering implementing emissions testing for Estes Park in January of 2012.  In response, the Estes Park Town Board adopted a resolution on July 12 which opposes emissions testing in Estes Park.  In cooperation with Larimer County, the Town of Estes Park has requested party status at the September 15 hearing of the AQCC to decide on the matter.

The Town Board opposes emissions testing in Estes Park for the following reasons:  The relatively small number of resident vehicles in the area; the extensive number of tourist vehicles during the summer ozone season; the long distances to drive to the centralized test stations; and, the hardship of driving to the test stations for a uniquely older population demographic.

Since early May, employees from the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have promoted emissions diagnostics and repairs classes to Estes Park auto repair businesses—in person, by telephone and via email.  Town of Estes Park staff members have been copied on email communications which also encourage the auto repair businesses to take part in the local discussions on the matter, inferring that these businesses should speak in favor of emissions testing to the Town Board and the AQCC at its September hearing.

The Town Board finds these communications inappropriate given its stance on the issue of emissions testing in Estes Park.  Therefore, we request state employees refrain from further outreach of this nature in Estes Park until the issue is decided in September.




William C. Pinkham

cc:          Doug Decker, Air Pollution Control Division, CDPHE

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