Hickenlooper wants environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry to come together
Updated: Jun 21, 2019
The Keene Sentinel quoted me asking John Hickenlooper if since he took a slurp of frack wastewater, would he take a swig of some #PFAS contaminated water? After mentioning that Mother Jones magazine called him "Frackenlooper", he laughed. He thinks environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry should make nice and negotiate. It sounds a little like "fine people on both sides".
ECHO Action Editor
Keene Sentinel, May 6, 2019
"At Keene State, Hickenlooper emphasized the importance of bringing opposing sides together to solve problems, which he said he has a track record of doing, from environmental to infrastructure issues.
But Stephanie Scherr of Fitzwilliam asked Hickenlooper why environmental advocates should compromise with the fossil fuel industry when moving away from fossil fuels is a priority.
“Mother Jones magazine called you ‘John Frackenlooper,’ ” — the candidate laughed — “and you took a slurp of frack wastewater, I can only assume to show that it’s not toxic,” Scherr said.
She was referring to a 2011 incident that made headlines when Hickenlooper mentioned it in 2013 testimony about improvements in the oil industry before a Senate committee.
Hickenlooper told Scherr he was in a meeting with executives of Halliburton — an oil field service company that’s been the subject of several controversies — to discuss methane regulations. They didn’t trust him, he said. Then they pulled out a test model of a fracking fluid made of FDA-approved, food-grade materials.
“And I said, ‘Well you’re not expecting me to drink that, are you?’ And the CEO took the bottle and took a swig, and said, ‘You don’t have to drink but I’ll show you, it’s perfectly safe,’ ” Hickenlooper said.
At that moment, he said he decided to take a swig to earn their trust. The bigger picture, he said, is that he brought both sides to the table and secured the regulations, which mandated camera installations to help prevent methane leaks.
However, in accounts from 2013, he framed the decision not as an act of compromise, but as something comical.
He told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources: “We did drink it around the table, almost ritual-like, in a funny way.” Hickenlooper described it similarly in interviews with multiple outlets in 2013. He told the Denver Business Journal that he asked the CEO “if I could take a swig. He asked me if I was serious. I said yes.”
Overall, Hickenlooper stressed the importance of coming together for environmental issues.
“I have a greater sense of urgency than just about anyone I know about climate change,” he said. “... I think our challenge is not figuring out what we should do. … We know what we have to do. What we need is the will and the persuasion to get everyone on board fast and in real time.”