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Former Senator Calls Tom Steyer’s Colorado Campaign ‘An Insult’

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Former Colorado Republican Sen. Wayne Allard called California billionaire Tom Steyer’s involvement in the Colorado Senate race an “insult to those who cherish our natural resources.”

Steyer, a former hedge fund manager, has pledged to spend billions to elect Democrats who support his climate change agenda. But in a column in the Pueblo Chieftain last weekend, Allard accused Steyer of backing a water-grab scheme in the 1990s that would have been “disastrous for farms, wetlands and the Great Sand Dunes National Park.”

Steyer is backing Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, whom he feted at a fundraiser at his San Francisco home earlier this year. Soon after, Udall was one of several Democrats who participated in an all-night talk-a-thon about the perils of climate change.

He’s also the only Democratic senator locked in a tight re-election race who hasn’t taken a firm stance on construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Steyer opposes but most Coloradans support.

Allard, a Republican who served in the Senate from 1997-2009, was all too happy to burst the bubble Steyer has created for himself as a wealthy environmentalist by reminding Coloradans that Steyer was behind a water-export scheme that activists said would harm the environment.

In 1995, Allard wrote, Steyer proposed a plan to drain an aquifer under the San Luis Valley, “standing to make millions by exporting the water … and selling it to the highest bidder.”

The deal was between Steyer’s Farallon Capital Management and Yale University in a water-development project on the 97,000 acre Baca Ranch. Water would have been diverted to Front Range cities like Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs, according to an article in Institutional Investor.

The article also claimed that Steyer was in the process of selling the ranch to the Nature Conservancy when news about the water deal broke. Steyer told Institutional Investor that the project wasn’t “irresponsible or wicked.”

The Yale Daily News, however, wrote in 2004 that the decision to sell (and donate the profits to the Nature Conservancy) only came after students at the Ivy League began protesting the university’s involvement, and after a personal visit to the school by Allard.

“Impact from Steyer’s plan would have been severe and activists called the proposed plan an environmental disaster,” Allard wrote. “As a U.S. senator, I joined the fight to prevent Steyer from draining this vital resource and profiting from its export.”

Allard called the defeat of Steyer’s plan “a major victory” for the people of Colorado. Steyer, he wrote, is now “rewarding Udall’s loyalty by spending his fortune against Congressman Cory Gardner’s run for the U.S. Senate.”

“Mr. Steyer’s presence in Colorado is an insult to those who cherish our natural resources and the incomparable beauty and majesty of places like the Great Sand Dunes,” Allard wrote. “We need to elect Cory Gardner, who knows the importance of water through practical experience.”

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