All posts by Ed Behan

Larimer Alliance Speaks to the Climate Activists of Tomorrow at Dunn Elementary Dolphin Dash Event

Fifth Graders getting ready to visit their chosen pledge stations.

Visitors to the Larimer Alliance Station on Climate Change Knowledge

The Larimer Alliance had a unique opportunity to speak with the next generation of potential climate activists. On May 3, we set up an informational table at Dunn Elementary, a unique school that is part of the globally recognized International Baccalaureate program based in over 5,000 schools in 158 countries. Our display and discussion were part of Dunn’s Dolphin Dash and Learner Profile Pledge event.

Starting with Fifth Graders in the morning, groups of up to ten students selected to visit tables to visit focusing on hunger, social justice, reading and education, affordable energy, water quality, and air quality. The students are seeking ways to tie what they are learning in Dunn’s IB program to these issues and what they can do to work on them. In speaking of the Alliance’s work, we emphasized air quality and how it is affected along the Front Range by oil and gas activity.

A large number of those who visited the Larimer Alliance table indicated they had picked up trash and/or planted trees and native plants for Earth Day and were aware of the need to shift off fossil fuels. By the end of the day with the kindergarten kiddos, we were just asking some pretty basic questions. But all the students expressed understanding of the various issues, and recognized they will be working on them in the future. It is encouraging to see them paying attention. . .

LARIMER ALLIANCE WITHDRAWS ENDORSEMENT OF ALEXANDER ADAMS

This message was sent out on the Larimer Alliance listserv on October 26, 2023.

Last Monday, October 16, the Larimer Alliance announced our endorsements for the current election to the Fort Collins City Council. In the race for the District 6 seat, we endorsed Alexander Adams based on the comprehensive responses he provided to our questionnaire on environmental issues in Northern Colorado.

On Tuesday the 17th certain information about past online activity on the part of Alexander was brought to our attention. While not central to his response to our questions, his appearances on a variety of forums advocating what can only be described as hateful and reprehensible stances on a range of social justice issues are problematic. Postings related to white nationalist and racist philosophy were particularly disturbing.

We determined to look into that history as provided in one of our local forums as well as conducting our own background checks. We also decided to reach out to Alexander directly, seeking his confirmation that he had disavowed those views, and asking for references who could speak to the sincerity of his evolving views. We have the impression that not everyone who have raised these issues have taken that step.

He met with our representatives last Friday and addressed our questions and provided some referrals as we requested. We heard from those advocates on his behalf over the weekend. These included college friends who knew him during both that troubling era as well as currently, and at least one mentor.

Since then, this information has been made public in local social media postings and in the Fort Collins Coloradoan. We cannot dispute that his past postings online are terrible, but the possibility that he has undergone a sincere change of heart in the three years since they appeared is something we can neither prove nor disprove.

We still appreciate the stances that Alexander took regarding the key environmental issues we addressed in our questionnaire. But under the circumstances we don’t feel there is enough of a track record of how he has shifted from some of the more disturbing activities in his past. With that in mind, we must withdraw our endorsement of his candidacy for the District 6 post.

We should be clear that while we do not agree with some of the conclusions he has drawn in his current work for the Firearms Research Center of the School of law at the University of Wyoming, the papers and postings he has generated in that regard are not couched in racist or hateful terms. That is an issue over which people can attempt to have reasonable disagreements, and debates about the validity of research. He has also indicated he is a fiscal conservative, but that too is not necessarily at odds with taking a stance in favor of environmental advocacy.

Second chances are something all of us may have benefited from at different times in our lives. It is our hope that if Alexander has indeed shifted in the way he communicated to us last Friday, that he will consider, if not elected to Council, other ways he might serve in our community and establish a history of a more rational and empathetic outlook on the pressing social issues of our time. He is to be commended for being willing to sit with us and answer some tough and pretty uncomfortable questions.

There may be those who question why we took so long to arrive at this decision, and we can only say we needed to pursue this on our own. The chance to communicate directly with Alexander and to hear from his close advocates and friends was an important part of that. But at this point, there are many issues of pressing importance that we need to focus on moving forward and hopefully this is something that can be put behind us all.

A priority for Fort Collins City Council Going Forward

The following was submitted to the opinion section of the Fort Collins Coloradoan following their article on April 30 which solicited citizen ideas for priorities for the City Council.

Editor:

I read with interest the article in the Coloradoan on Sunday, April 30, looking at the various priorities the Fort Collins City Council are working on. I don’t fault the goals, nor the intention to try and arrive at the best solution across a range of difficult issues. 

Of particular interest to me is the commitment of the City toward establishing a regulatory scheme for oil and gas operations. The City Council approved amendments to their land use code on April 4, focusing on setbacks and zoning to restrict the actual territory within city limits available for oil and gas development. This is a good first step, but by itself does not represent comprehensive regulation. While I am aware our fair city may be on the edge of the Denver-Julesburg Basin, and very few legacy sites are actually present within the City’s growth management area, it would be naive to say we are not still at risk to have further exploration occurring within the greater Fort Collins area. The oil and gas industry organizations presented their own argument prior to April 4 that opposed even the use of setback and zoning to constrain their operations, suggesting there may be more brewing beneath the surface than immediately meets the eye. 

I am a member of the Larimer Alliance for Health, Safety, & the Environment, and we advocated for more detailed regulations. At present, we are communicating with City Council and Staff for the modifications to municipal code that may fill the gaps. Fort Collins is likely to be annexing territory to the East of current city limits, if not to the North as well, where the two legacy operations have caused considerable problems for residents. Given that there is substantial industry interest in territory around Wellington and Windsor, the notion that some oil and gas activity may eventually find its way into the future growth management area of Fort Collins is not at all beyond the realm of possibility. 

As well, the City and County should also be looking at more comprehensive, real time and networked air quality monitoring systems beyond the canister type of site-based sensors that can tell of an issue after it has already happened. The reality is that while there may be minimal oil and gas activity destined to happen within Fort Collins and Larimer County, we are heavily impacted by the emissions from over 20,000 wells in Weld County that have left the Front Range with some of the worst air quality in the country. And the greatest source of precursors to surface level atmospheric ozone, which grievously affects the health of our citizens, are the emissions of oil and gas sites concentrated so heavily to our immediate East. 

Thank you.

Ed Behan

Fort Collins, Colorado