Colorado Counties Unite in Attempt to Form a New State [AUDIO]
Several counties in Northern Colorado are gathering together in discussions to form their own state, citing irreconcilable differences with larger, more urban counties over increased regulation of oil and gas, and other issues.
Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway cited American history as the genesis for the discussion over separating to become the 51st state of the union.
"This idea first came to us from our citizens here in Weld county," Conway said. "You go back and you read why West Virginia during the civil war did not agree with Virginia as they aligned with the Confederacy. Other states include Tennessee, Vermont, Maine and Kentucky. The same issues that we're talking about today were relevant back then, and that is political disenfranchisement. People were feeling that they were ignored and felt they needed to form a new political subdivision to address their concerns and issues."
While Conway and his fellow commissioners at first thought the idea of creating a new state was extreme, those feelings changed as they watched the way politicians in Denver were treating the more rural counties of the state.
"In Colorado, we have watched the legislature's and, unfortunately, the governor's assault on northern Colorado, our very way of life and the threat to our economic viability," Conway said on Friday. "As Colorado has become more urbanized, and more political power has been concentrated in the Denver metropolitan area, those of us who live in more rural areas of the state have seen a sea change... and that this is no longer the same state that I grew up in."
Conway said energy development has become a divisive factor in Colorado state politics, as well.
"We've had an anti-fracking agenda which has taken root in some of our more urban communities around the Denver area,and it really threatens us... people are scared," Conway said. "Then, couple that with the governor, who two years ago when he came into office, signed an executive order that he would never sign any bill that was an unfunded mandate, either on business, or government, or on any entity. However, just this week, he signed Senate Bill 252, which is a renewable energy mandate. This bill requires only rural counties, not the urban areas, not the municipal utilities, or the urban corridors of our state, just the rural areas to meet a 20% renewable mandate by the year 2020, which will have a huge effect on our farmers and ranchers, and many of them, quite frankly will not be able to survive. I talked to a farmer today who said his energy costs would go up by $8,000 a month."
While the odds of making a successful split are long, Conway said he was encouraged by recent comments coming out of Denver.
"I was very heartened today to read comments by the Speaker of the House in the Denver Post in which he said 'Look, if the residents of northern and eastern Colorado have this vote, and its approved by the voters, we as a legislature must take this seriously,' Conway said." "Now, I'm not naive enough to believe that a legislature that imposed all of these new laws on us are going to put up the white flag and say 'oh, yeah... you guys go do what you want to do,' However, I believe the media and the political process will force the legislators who put us in this position will heed the will of the people and forward this petition on the the U.S. Congress."
Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway