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Beware of global warming opportunists in conservative clothing

Beware of global warming opportunists in conservative clothing

There is a new, Colorado-based, self-described “conservative” group The Western Way (TWW) with an enticing tag line “conservative stewards of the Western environment.” Sounds good, right? Until you try to find out who these “conservative stewards” really are. If you are attending the Western Conservative Summit (and you should), you will see these guys there. But don’t fall for the conservative part.

Visit the Web site. It’s slick and likely very expensive, but you won’t find a single person’s name listed. In fact, there is no address nor phone number. And the email address? Well it’s an “info” address.

TWW has no history of which to speak since it only incorporated as a non-profit in October 2016. The attorney of record is Gwen Benevento of Holland & Hart. Former state Senator Greg Brophy, who led the local charge for the industrial wind boondoggle Rush Creek on behalf of Xcel Energy, is listed as TWW’s lobbyist. The group is a member of the “Conservative Energy Network” where Jon Anderson of Holland & Hart is listed as the contact. Interesting that his name doesn’t appear anywhere on The Western Way Web site.

I first noticed the group during the 2017 legislative session when it showed up on the Secretary of State’s (SOS) Web site supporting HB17-1227 extending Demand Side Management (DSM), a program forcing Xcel Energy ratepayers to pay the company not to produce electricity.  The Independence Institute has documented the absurdity of DSM here and here.

William Yeatman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and I also co-authored a Denver Post editorial titled “Colorado’s costly ‘demand-side management’ bill makes no sense.”  Who does support DSM? Every environmental left group and monopoly utilities. Meanwhile, 36 of 48 Republicans agreed with us, voting against DSM.

What else does The Western Way support? From the Web site, it’s hard to tell other than this statement,

An honest read of the facts and data demonstrates that there are serious problems with our climate and environment.  That is not a political or philosophical statement, it is the only conclusion one can reach based on facts and science.

So, TWW believes the science is settled and conservatives should “own” it.

TWW appears to support industrial wind and solar but not necessarily in a market. It appears to be a vehicle for corporate opportunists that see global warming as a cash cow, which is probably why TWW weighed in as supporters of SB17-301, a terrible piece of last-minute, rent-seeking legislation. It also would have re-authorized the Colorado Energy Office. Colorado’s largest monopoly utility Xcel Energy tried to amend the bill in order to codify its dreams of Big Wind dominance. Fortunately, Senate Republicans let this bill to die at the very end of the session.

Another bill TWW supported is HB17-1242, the bill to raise the state sales tax by 21 percent for transportation. 1242 was so bad the Republican-controlled Senate killed it quickly despite President Kevin Grantham’s sponsorship. The bill caused such backlash that we at the Independence Institute launched our own ballot initiative “Fix Our Damn Roads” to counter it, on which we hope voters get to decide in November 2018.

The Western Way’s support of HB17-1242 begs the question, why would a global warming group that claims to be conservative, support a massive tax increase for transportation and public transit?

Whatever the reasons, in its very short history The Western Way has been on the wrong side of some bad legislation. Maybe the name should be The Western Wrong Way. One thing is for certain, its legislative agenda so far is more corporate, more opportunist than conservative.

Remember, you heard the warning here first: beware of global warming opportunists in conservative clothing.

Amy Cooke