The State Of North Colorado?

North Colorado

Political conflict and cultural clashes have led some in the northern parts of Colorado to talk about forming a new state:

There’s a growing effort to create a 51st state out of parts of northeast Colorado and southwestern Nebraska.

Ten counties started talking about seceding last month. Now some people in Lincoln and Cheyenne counties say they want to join a new state they’d call “North Colorado,” reports CBS Denver station KCNC-TV.

Organizers of the secession effort say their interests are not being represented at the state Capitol. Representatives from the 10 counties held a meeting on Monday in the town of Akron in Weld County to begin mapping the boundaries for the new state they say will represent the interests of rural Colorado.

The secessionist movement is the result of a growing urban-rural divide, which was exacerbated after this year’s legislation session, where lawmakers raised renewable energy standards for rural electric co-ops, floated bills increasing regulations on oil and gas and passed sweeping gun control.

The creation of a new state comes with risks. A new state would have to draw up new water agreements, which are critical to agriculture and uses 85 percent of Colorado’s water. Supporters say it also comes with new opportunities.

“I say 80 percent of the oil and gas revenue in the state of Colorado is coming out of northeastern Colorado – Weld, Yuma County and some of other counties,” Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said. “Seventy percent of the K-12 funding is coming off the state lands in Weld County alone. I’m telling you, we are economic drivers.”

But not everyone is in favor of the plan.

“I don’t want be in a 51st state. I don’t want any part of their fracking that they’re doing in Weld County,” Washington County resident Steve Frey said.

(…)

In addition, organizers say three other Colorado counties and two in Kansas have said they may join the secession movement. Previously, officials said parts of Nebraska also expressed interest in joining in on what would be a new state. They hope to put the idea to voters as early as this November.

This would be far from an easy prospect, to create a new state out of the territory of an existing state, the Constitution requires the consent of both Congress and the legislature of the existing state. Add in parts of other states and it just becomes more complicated, which is why this is really nothing more than talk.

It’s also not very new. There have been many proposals throughout the years to create new states by carving up existing states including California, New York, and Texas.  However, the only time a state has actually been created from the territory of another state was in 1864 when the far western counties of Virginia formed the State of West Virginia. At this point, we are at the point where the logistics of doing so are just far too expensive to make it practical in almost any situation. What were’ seeing here, then, is evidence of the political/cultural clash between the urban and rural areas of Colorado and its neighboring states. It’s far more likely that this will be worked out politically than that we’ll be sewing a 51st star to the U.S. Flag at any point in the future.

Hypothetical Map via Huffington Post

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. stonetools says:

    The rural folks who lived in northeastern Colorado had a sad after they lost power through democratic elections to those urban, wrong colored folks in the Denver metro region.So they took a page out of the book of those earlier secessionists who did the same thing when they lost an election in 1860. Because that turned out so well. They picked the state name of North Colorado. Guess Dumbf@ckistan was taken.

  2. Craigo says:

    There’s also the example of Maine in 1820, as part of the Missouri Compromise. Basically, the only time this happens is during extreme moments if political crisis.

  3. Andre Kenji says:

    However, the only time a state has actually been created from the territory of another state was in 1864 when the far western counties of Virginia formed the State of West Virginia.

    Maine was created from the territory of Massachusetts, and Washington was created from the territory of Oregon.

  4. Dave D says:

    I remember as a kid when the Yuppers and some sections of northern Wisconsin were trying to form a 51st state. They formed militias and some even raised the ire of the FBI. I have a buddy whose dad was sent to prison on gun charges during that movement. Like all other talk about state splitting this will go nowhere. Also isn’t there a population requirement to statehood? Or was that just in the case of westward expansion?

  5. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I agree that this seems like just another extension of rural / urban tensions. I find the idea of bringing in counties from Kansas and/or Nebraska especially amusing, since I can’t see Jayhawks, Wildcats, or Cornhuskers willingly becoming part of a state named North Colorado.

  6. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Andre Kenji: Washington and Oregon isn’t really analogous. They were seperate territories before either was a state, which is a different situation, and one that happened frequently. Idaho was parts of both the Oregon and Washington territories, and the Dakotas were one territory before either was a state. Territory borders changed frequently.

    Looking earlier, Kentucky was originally part of the Colony of Virginia, and Vermont was part of the Colony of New York.

  7. Joe Reed says:

    “I don’t want be in a 51st state. I don’t want any part of their fracking that they’re doing in Weld County,” Washington County resident Steve Frey said.

    You already are.

  8. Gustopher says:

    I’ve long wanted eastern Washington to join Idaho — they always vote for Republican governors and Senators, and never get them, so they would probably be happier there. And it wouldn’t mess up the senate.

    Let these northern Colorado folks join them in Idaho. Eventually, Idaho will be as big as Texas.

  9. Andre Kenji says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: You are right. Washington State was a territory before being admitted to the Union. But I stand with Maine. 😉

  10. bill says:

    i thought we had 57 states already?! just kidding kids….
    side note, norcal has sentiments like that as well, mainly about water issues as in “sending our water to socal”.

  11. Mr. Prosser says:

    The secession idea is pretty much old news. The new talk is to adjust state house and senate representation by area rather than population. This would require state constitutional changes and a referendum. I don’t see this going anywhere either. This is a classic urban/rural conflict and I think you can even compare a bit to the Nevada land use conflicts that went on against the federal government over federal land policies in the past. Your Colorado map could actually be expanded so it looks like a doughnut surrounding the Front Range and the central Rockies.

  12. Tillman says:

    @Dave D:

    Also isn’t there a population requirement to statehood?

    If I recall right, they just have to equal or surpass the population of our least-populated state, which I believe is Rhode Island Wyoming. So, if they’ve got just shy of over half a million, they could do it.

  13. James Pearce says:

    What an embarrassment.

    When this story first hit a few weeks ago, 9News did a deadpan story on what the demographics and economy of this 51st would look like. Basically, it would automatically be the least populated and poorest state in the union.

    I think if these secessionists don’t like the state, they should engage in that most American of traditions and move. If they don’t want to do that, then they need to buck up, make more babies, change more minds– this, of course, after they get over themselves.

  14. al-Ameda says:

    “North Colorado”?
    Why not “North Korea-ado”?

  15. PD Shaw says:

    I was in the State of North Colorado several weeks ago (after all its a state of mind, right?). And except for perhaps a ten mile strip on the far West, this state would have almost no people in it. Could they give cattle the right to vote?

    @Tillman: I’m not aware of a population requirement, but I don’t think there are half a million people in it. There are 258,000 in Weld County, probably 100,000 total in the rest.

  16. al-Ameda says:

    @bill:

    i thought we had 57 states already?! just kidding kids….
    side note, norcal has sentiments like that as well, mainly about water issues as in “sending our water to socal”.

    To be fair Bill, California could easily be subdivided into a quite a few states – Central Valley, the Sierra Nevada and the Foothills, SoCal Coast from San Diego to Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo, NorCal Coast from SLO to Eureka, The Inland area from seat of LA to east of San Diego … etc. Any of those places would be far more populous than North Colorado-Pyongyang.

  17. stonetools says:

    Actually here in Northern Virginia you do sometimes hear un-serious talk of seceding from Virginia and forming our own state-because NoVa is distinct ethnically and politically from “real Virginia” which starts south of Fredericksburg. Economically, we would be in a lot better shape than North Colorado. But that’s just talk.
    If you start this kind of thing, where would you stop? There could be four Texases, at least three Californias, and maybe a couple of Illinoises and New Yorks.
    However , maybe consolidation would be a better idea. You could have the states of Dakota, Wyomorado and Kansaska. Those at least would make a lot more sense in terms of political representation and economics

  18. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Andre Kenji: Oh, yes. I was not disputing Maine. 🙂

  19. @Mr. Prosser:

    The new talk is to adjust state house and senate representation by area rather than population.

    Which would be unconstitutional under Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims.

    @stonetools:

    because NoVa is distinct ethnically and politically from “real Virginia” which starts south of Fredericksburg.

    You might want to leave out Stafford, it’s pretty red.

  20. William Wilgus says:

    Background Checks and magazine limits are ‘sweeping’ gun laws? Bull! Regardless, the Gun Nuts are pissed. To them the laws are as bad as taking their guns away.

    The Right-Wingers are pissed at the Marijuana legalization. (I can’t say I’m thrilled with that either, but I don’t live in Colorado.)

    That’s it. That’s all. The rest of what they way is blather. Take this for example:

    “Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said. ‘Seventy percent of the K-12 funding is coming off the state lands in Weld County alone. I’m telling you, we are economic drivers.’”
    ‘They’ aren’t the economic drivers at all. IT’S STATE-OWNED LAND AND STATE-OWNED OIL, FOOL!

    More Right-Wing AZZ-HOLES.

  21. PD Shaw says:

    @Andre Kenji: You can probably stand with Vermont too, though New York’s claims were disputed, the process used was the same as if those claims were viewed as legitimate.

  22. Trumwill says:

    Self-promotion department: Here’s what I wrote about it a few months ago.

    There’s no formal population requirement to become a new state, though congress wouldn’t sign on if Lost Dakota wanted to become a state. Historically, population parity has never been all that much of a concern when determining what a state should or should not be (Wyoming had 60k when it became a state), though I would assume that there are at least some limits. Especially when you’re not dealing with a very large mass of land.

    I am not particularly worried about this setting some sort of precedent. It’s not often that you’re going to have a portion of a state that wants to go and the rest of the state being perfectly okay with them going. If that is the case in Northern Colorado, that would be relatively unusual.

  23. slimslowslider says:

    Hopefully they will form a baseball league with the III Percent Citadel folks.

  24. @stonetools:

    If you start this kind of thing, where would you stop? There could be four Texases, at least three Californias, and maybe a couple of Illinoises and New Yorks.

    There could be two or three Pennsyvanias too.

  25. Ron Beasley says:

    My objection would be we would end up with two additional wingnut Senators.

  26. PJ says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    My objection would be we would end up with two additional wingnut Senators.

    Not only that, but the rest of Colorado would then get more moderate Republicans who if elected to Congress would vote with crazies.

  27. James Pearce says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    My objection would be we would end up with two additional wingnut Senators.

    True, but based on population of New Freedonia….not that many in the House.

  28. george says:

    I vaguely recall that North Colorado (as well as East Carolina) have been mentioned in Pogo … Walt Kelly, prescient as ever.

  29. PD Shaw says:

    @Trumwill: Good article.

    Illinois apparently came pretty close to dividing several years ago. One of the downstate legislators introduced legislation to remove downstate from Illinois and the speaker, getting tired of the particular legislator’s whining and outrage, green-lit the bill and had it moving quickly to passage. The sponsor had to quickly move to reconsider and pull his own bill before the whole thing escalated.

    Polls have shown dividing Cook County (which contains Chicago) from the rest of the state is supported by around 50% of people in Illinois and opposed by 40%. If put to a referendum I could see it pass, but I don’t think more than 50% of the legislators would do so.

  30. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @PD Shaw: All the State of Chicago would have to do is adopt a commuter tax on Illinois residents, and you would see DuPage and Lake counties jumping ship ASAP. Heh.

  31. Electroman says:

    @PD Shaw: Chicago is only partly in Cook County; the rest is in DuPage County. Thus, casting out Cook County would result in, presumably, dividing Chicago into two cities, one in each state. Yeah, snowball’s chance.

  32. PD Shaw says:

    @PD Shaw: Correction, or at least one of the polls I was thinking of is of the southernmost counties in Illinois, what would be called “Little Egypt” generally and called “Kentucky” by Chicagoans. I still suspect without evidence that 50% of Illinoisans would support division.

    @Electroman: I made the reference to Chicago in case people didn’t realize what Cook County meant. The legislative referendum that was circulating a while ago divided Cook County from the rest of Illinois, so the Cook County suburbs would have went with Chicago.

    @Gromitt Gunn: I don’t believe its Constitutional for a state to discriminate against drivers from another state. The State of Cook County would have to do something more indirect, like levy a corporate income tax.

  33. gVOR08 says:

    We’ve had a generation now of a constant drumbeat of the government is the problem, we need to shrink the government to where we can drown it in a bathtub, taxation is theft, the president is illegitimate, those inner city people are all takers from us real Tea Party Murcans. All of it ginned up for partisan advantage. Now, surprise, we’ve got the Confederate and cowboy states talking about seceding from the union and the hillbilly portions of each state talking about seceding from the urban parts. Doug, you and James proud of the Republican Party?

  34. Tyrell says:

    Well there is NC -SC, WVA-Va, ND-SD.
    Many people who live in North Carolina will cross the line to buy gas, usually 20-30 cents a gallon cheaper in South Carolina.
    When people feel that their views and interests are not represented or considered, then they start to look at options. These state divisions seem to have worked out fine.

  35. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Gerrymandering, raised a level up.

    Ladies & Gents, I give you “conservatives”, coming up with idiotic new ways to try to keep their power structure.

    ( “it’s MY money and I want it NOW !!! )

  36. Tillman says:

    @Tyrell: Don’t know about gas, but fireworks definitely.

  37. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @PD Shaw: A commuter tax isn’t a tax on drivers, it is an income tax on non-residents who work within a jurisdiction. New York State charges them to non-residents who work within metro NYC.

  38. Caj says:

    Who master minded this idea? Could it be Rick Perry? Has he gone round the country getting signatures of places that want to secede? He’s all for it after all. I fear our country is being taken over by a bunch of lunatics!! No longer the land of the free, we’re fast becoming the land of complete idiots!!

  39. Laurence Bachmann says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: Actually, KY and VT were never part of VA and NY. They were only claimed by the two large colonies–however, Great Britain never formally acknowledged the claim. Lots of states claimed territory that became other states: PA claimed what is ow OH, VA claimed not only KY but all land west within its northern and southern boundries, all the way to the Pacific! Admitting VT and KY as separate states kept two already large and powerful states, that were regarded as megalomaniacal by smaller neighbors, from becoming even more so.

  40. Doug says:

    While this proposed new state has plenty of oil and gas, it doesn’t have much water and the water it does have is largely controlled upstream by the actual state of Colorado. I’m afraid the result of this would be that the North Coloradans would end up paying out all that oil revenue to buy water, and things would stay much the same as they are.

  41. slimslowslider says:

    I nominate Bart DePalma for president of North Colorado!