The vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels. Each new well pad adds to the supply of these greenhouse gas-emitting fuels at a time the IPCC says we should be reducing their use. Hickenlooper has never apologized to the local jurisdictions that tried to stop the expansion of fracking into residential neighborhoods and were thwarted by an alliance between state government and the oil and gas industry. He has never admitted he might have been wrong.
Dave Kreiger, Colorado Sun, Sept 29, 2019
Hickenlooper presided over a 400% increase in Colorado oil production and threatened to sue any local jurisdiction that tried to stop fracking within its borders during his eight years at the Capitol.
The IPCC reported last fall that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the goal of the Paris climate accord, will require cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030. Based on the current trajectory, the International Energy Agency sees worldwide CO2 emissions continuing to rise through at least 2040.
Climate change deniers and skeptics, who still make up much of the Republican Party’s elected class, say the IPCC is wrong. Hickenlooper could take that tack; he could justify his enthusiasm for fracking by saying the crisis is not as bad as environmentalists claim. But that would doom him in a Democratic Party primary, so he’s not saying that.
Instead, he’s saying he’s the ultimate climate change warrior, he’s been working on this since the ’90s. So how does that square with the massive increase in fracking he enabled and supported as governor as recently as one year ago?
Navigable corridors exist between Hickenlooper’s actions as governor and his proclamations as a Senate candidate. Julián Castro demonstrated one of them during CNN’s recent Climate Town Hall. Castro acknowledged he supported fracking as mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. He recalled natural gas being described as a bridge fuel, and added, “We’re coming to the end of the bridge.”
Castro suggested two things. First, the severity and immediacy of the crisis was not as evident then as it is now. Second, if he knew then what he knows now his position would have been different then.
Hickenlooper has said neither of these things. He has yet to walk back his active support for fracking as governor. If we are to take him at his word, he believes climate change is the existential issue of our time and he also believes fracking is fine.
These positions are contradictory. Most greenhouse gas emissions come from burning fossil fuels. Each new well pad adds to the supply of these greenhouse gas-emitting fuels at a time the IPCC says we should be reducing their use. Hickenlooper has never apologized to the local jurisdictions that tried to stop the expansion of fracking into residential neighborhoods and were thwarted by an alliance between state government and the oil and gas industry. He has never admitted he might have been wrong.
So, back to our original question. Are progressive Democratic leaders keeping their mouths shut about the race because they consider Hickenlooper inevitable and don’t want to back the wrong horse?
“That could make sense; I wouldn’t rule it out, for sure,” said state Sen. Mike Foote of Lafayette, a Boulder County legislator who has not been afraid to criticize Hickenlooper’s record on fracking.
“Personally, I’ve not, at least recently, made endorsements based upon perceived electability. I’ve done that before and I’ve come to regret it. I make my endorsement decisions based upon who I believe in and who I think would do a good job. Sometimes those people are the ones that are perceived favorites. Sometimes they aren’t. If you’re in the endorsement game just to add your name to the winning cause, then I can see how that would effect your decision-making.”
You may recall that Foote endorsed Johnston for U.S. Senate the last time I asked. Johnston dropped out of the race shortly thereafter, without endorsing Hickenlooper. Foote is now uncommitted.
“I’ll come up with someone to support,” he said. “I’m not in a huge hurry, but I’ll figure it out eventually.”
Much of the progressive wing of the state Democratic Party feels the same. It just doesn’t want to say so out loud.
Dave Krieger has been a Colorado journalist since 1981. @davekrieger