Who cares about Rocky Flats politics?

The Rocky Flats plant was divisive even back in the 1970s, when protests featuring Allen Ginsberg and Daniel Ellsberg occurred. In October 1983, 12,000 protesters attempted to encircle the entire plant. This action lead to the founding of the Boulder Peace Center, now the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. Its consistent anti-nuclear weapons stance at some point morphed into opposition to all things nuclear, including nuclear power. This caused Boulder Friends Meeting, a Quaker meeting, to fail to support RMP&J in 2018. LeRoy Moore (Ph.D divinity, one of the founders of RMP&J) has had a special aversion to public use of the Refuge.  Some suspect this is to set aside what is now the Refuge as a monument to the futility of the Cold War. RMP&J is among the few anti-Refuge groups able to pay for legal activities which seek to oppose public use of the Refuge.

On August 1, 1989 Colorado set up it first “special grand jury” to examine possible environmental crimes bought to light by an FBI raid of the plant.  While [see Wikipedia!] grand jury records are usually sealed, those suspicious of the U.S. or local governments used this as an indicator of hidden wrongdoing and a cover-up.  When a group of anti-Refuge organizations requested that the files be made public, the Department of Justice admitted it seems to have lost more than 60 boxes of documents. (This website and the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council also endorse the release of these documents.)  You can read a recent overview of the current situation here, from a periodical customarily suspicious of Rocky Flats.

A review by David Abelson (current chair of the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council] of the history of the Rocky Flats Coalition of Local Governments is available here. It gives in detail the political history of Rocky Flats between when the plant was closed and when the cleanup was completed.

A variety of other groups are convinced that proximity to the former Rocky Flats plant is responsible for the maladies of their relatives or friends. This issue is covered elsewhere on the website.

Local politics

How does this situation play out in the context of local politics? In several ways, some ongoing and some only sporadically:

  • A cadre of fervent anti-Refuge activists show up at meetings of the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council.  Depending on the perceived importance of the meeting, 2-20 people may appear. Historically only a few of these are disruptive, but many are repetitive.
  • Anti-Refuge groups can overwhelm unprepared local city councils with lots of earnest (and extremely ill-informed) testimonials.
  • Anti-Refuge groups either explicitly or tacitly back members of local city councils with similar views.

As Paul Karolyi stated in his last Unclear Danger podcast,

But don’t we want our elected officials to be leaders? Like Jason Glass [departing superintendent of Jefferson County schools]. He consulted all sides at least. What does it say about all these other school boards that they didn’t talk to anyone other than the activists on these big decisions?

Impact of anti-Refuge groups

Your children cannot take school trips to the Wildlife Refuge. Individual members of anti-Refuge groups (who have no understanding of radiation and risk) visited school superintendents, who also have no understanding of radiation and risk, who then capitulated before the perception of liability.

Controlled burns by Fish&Wildlife are blocked. The U.S. Forest service estimates a 99% success rate [fires remain within the planned area]. Which is better on Rocky Flats, a controlled burn or an uncontrolled burn? Think about the Marshall Fire.

Indefinite suspension of the Jefferson Parkway project. The Parkway was part of a long-planned ring road around the Denver metro area, now on hold indefinitely because of scare tactics. The Parkway runs through several municipalities and is planned to be just outside the eastern boundary of the Refuge. This I watched in 2018??? as the Broomfield City Council, which appeared not to have done any homework about tactics of anti-Refuge activists, capitulated to baseless claims by a crowd of people probably from outside Broomfield. As of 2022 the City and County of Broomfield is the subject of a lawsuit by other municipalities for having failed to pay agreed-upon expenses for the Parkway.

Federal and state tax dollars wasted: