Welcome to Western Wire’s year-end newsletter review of 2017’s top stories as chosen by our readers and our editors.

Flickr / Earthworks

It’s not often that elected officials come forward and publicly and admit when they are wrong, so give La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt kudos for acknowledging in a Durango Herald op-ed that she should be more transparent in her dual role as both a county commissioner and the head of an environmental activist group. Lachelt grudgingly credited Western Wire reporting – albeit two months after questions were asked – for her promise to be more transparent. In reality, however, Lachelt’s op-ed raises significant questions that could have major implications on lobbying and disclosure rules moving forward.

The timing was rather ironic. And perhaps another example of why Western Wire is so needed in this current media landscape. On Monday morning, anti-fracking activists associated with national environmental groups took the opportunity to score headlines by disrupting a Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meeting. Outlets from CBS …


When we launched Western Wire earlier this year, our goal was to write stories and cover issues that traditional media was slow to report on. We had a hunch that the dwindling number of reporters meant there were important stories that weren’t getting the time and attention they deserve. A perfect example is Western Wire’s coverage of the cozy ties between elected officials and a controversial anti-fracking activist from Boulder County in Colorado.

The Inconvenient Truth About Why the Energy Office Died

by Colo. State Senator Ray Scott June 2, 2017

Democrats and environmentalists are fond of talking about “inconvenient truths,” so here’s one they might chew on during this pause in the 71st General Assembly. Colorado’s Energy Office met its demise in the waning hours of the just-closed legislative session not because of Republicans, who made a good-faith effort to reauthorize and re-energize what had become a listless and ineffectual bureaucratic backwater.


Governor Hickenlooper would be wise to challenge the Colorado Court of Appeals decision forcing the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to reinterpret its mission. State lawmakers have charged the COGCC with fostering “responsible, balanced” development, production and use of oil and gas “in a manner consistent with protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources.”

Our Friend Joey Bunch Missed The Mark

by Matt Dempsey, Opinion Editor April 30, 2017

Western Wire

If a top Colorado news reporter like Joey Bunch raises concerns with one of our stories, we take it seriously. Western Wire is a new reporting project, and we will always welcome constructive criticism from those we respect. On Saturday afternoon, Joey emailed Western Energy Alliance, the organization that supports Western Wire, regarding our story, “Winter Blast Putting Climate Protests On Ice In Colorado.” In the story he published at Colorado Politics later that evening, Joey attempted to take us to task. But in our opinion, he failed to read our story closely, and he missed the point of our reporting entirely.