Just last week, Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado was questioned by a health care professional who asked the governor why he continued to be a party to a lawsuit against the town of Longmont even as they continue to pick up the pieces from devastating flooding. He evaded any definitive answer but did say, “We didn’t do that because we wanted to, and “we will certainly address all the issues.”
If you haven’t seen this video, take a look. It’s worth seeing the reaction from Gov. Hickenlooper.
It appears that Gov. Hickenlooper is willing to stump for the oil and gas industry and oppose water, air, and public health protections from oil and gas drilling at all levels of government.
This past August, the Western Governors Association (WGA) of which Gov. Hickenlooper is chair, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell all but telling her to butt out of regulating fracking on federal lands, despite the fact that Jewell is responsible for managing these publicly owned national parks, forests, rivers, canyons and deserts.
Essentially, the governors argued in their letter that the Interior Department can ignore it’s responsibility to manage these national parks and lands because Western states already have systems in place to effectively regulate oil and gas operations. Gov. Hickenlooper signed the letter.
So, Gov. Hickenlooper opposes the federal government creating well safety standards for oil and gas fracking operations on federal lands because local control is best, but at the same time has two lawsuits against the town of Longmont opposing local control.
Last year, Gov. Hickenlooper filed his first suit because Longmont passed strong public health and safety standards for oil and gas operations within town limits to protect their residents.
His second lawsuit came against Longmont this past July where he joined the state’s top oil and gas lobbying firm, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, in opposition to its citizens passing a ban on fracking operations within city limits.
Do industrial oil and gas operations belong within city limits? The Governor has admitted that fracking is “an industrial process that no one wants in their backyard”, yet he seems to be going to bat for the oil and gas industry even at the expense of our public health, and safety.
Maybe Gov. Hickenlooper supports strong oversight at the state level of oil and gas operations? Not so fast.
Gov. Hickenlooper has a track record of opposing, weakening, or creating loopholes in public health protections such as opposing additional funding for oil and gas inspectors and creating loopholes in groundwater protection rules for companies such as Anadarko and Noble in northeastern Colorado.
In fact, just a few weeks before the WGA letter, the Hickenlooper Administration awarded the state’s biggest oil and gas polluter, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., with an “Outstanding Operator the Year Award” for 2012 despite their 70 spills – 38% of which caused water contamination.
If we’re going to protect our way of life, small businesses, ranches, farms and our families, we need Gov. Hickenlooper to do better. If his administration is unwilling to protect Colorado residents, then he should expect and accept that local governments will step in.
We recognize the importance of oil and gas in our economy and we also know that development can be done with reasonable safeguards for our water, air and land. Our small businesses, families, communities and long-term economic prosperity depend on those precautions.