Hickenlooper Pisses On Environmentalists–Again

Despite the endless accusations of bias against GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis, we’ve been watching–and fairly reporting–a troubling tendency on the part of Democratic nominee John Hickenlooper to throw traditional Democratic allies under the wheels whenever it’s convenient or politically advantageous. Hickenlooper has seen fit, while alternately promising to “stay out of” contentious legislative debates, to attack the repeal of certain tax breaks last session as “crazy,” and made statements about climate change that both appear to contradict prior views and diss environmentalists.

Yesterday, at a debate before the Denver Petroleum Club, Hickenlooper started triangulating again–this time against drilling protections passed in Colorado, for which he was roundly criticized once this year already after claiming they were the product of “overboard” environmentalists. The AP’s Steven Paulson reports:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper and GOP opponent Scott McInnis vowed Tuesday to revamp tougher state oil and gas regulations that took effect last year.

The Denver mayor told energy industry executives that some rules pushed by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter and his administration and approved by the Legislature may not be necessary, including strict rules on pit liners and requirements to pump production water back into the ground instead of using it for agricultural purposes.

Hickenlooper, a former geologist, said the new rules were partially responsible for the decrease in drilling and loss of jobs over the past three years. [Pols emphasis]

“It’s one of the many factors,” he said.

Perhaps under different circumstances, we wouldn’t make such a big deal out of this–since all it does is muddy the contrasting choice offered by these two candidates. To be fair, we do note that McInnis wants the new rules tossed in their entirety while Hickenlooper only says he would eliminate certain “onerous” examples, but we can’t simply ignore the underlying side of the debate Hickenlooper is taking.

We have spent the last year and a half showing why this claim that the new rules have “harmed” the oil and gas industry is absolutely false, the product of deliberate misrepresentation by local Republicans of the economic reality governing this industry around the country (hell, the industry itself has debunked this myth recently). The fact is that huge natural gas plays in Texas and Pennsylvania, and the drop in consumption caused by the recent recession, have everything to do with the temporary slowdown in drilling in Colorado–and Colorado, despite the claims made by Josh Penry and Hickenlooper’s opponent Scott McInnis, has not suffered a bigger slowdown than other states.

Unfortunately, Hickenlooper is subverting the argument–and leaving Democrats around the state who fought for these rules, and defended them against hyperbolic attacks, to twist in the wind.

Somewhere between Hickenlooper’s disturbing tendency to alienate natural allies with highly regrettable choices of words, and this either inability or unwillingness to set out meaningful differences between himself and his likely GOP opponent on key issues, we see the reason–for all of McInnis’ evident weakness–why Hickenlooper “can’t get out of the weeds.”

67 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Middle of the Road says:

    right after he announced–Mayor’s Passive/Aggressiveness–Political Ploy or Pure Hick

    And in six months, he’s hung Democrats out to dry repeatedly while we watch his numbers continue to drop in every major poll. The real question is rapidly becoming, “Is he ready for primetime?”  

  2. ThillyWabbit says:

    He has lost my vote. I won’t vote for McInnis, but I will leave the governor’s line blank this year.

    Even if he can manage to eek out a win (which is doubtful in my mind), he’s not going to have any kind of governing coalition beyond the “business community” (that all winning candidates claim to have won).

    It’s better to have a devil to rail against than a moron to defend.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      when it is redistricting time.

      This is an important election that will shape the politics of the state for the next decade.  Do you want a McInnis who can scuttle any progress or Hickenlooper who acts like a Dem most of the time but has an independent streak.  We always accuse the Republicans of being mindless drones who don’t stray far from the herd.  What’s so wrong with someone who doesn’t toe the line with politically correct positions on all the issues?  Someone is going to be the next governor and I would prefer it was someone who won’t sign an Arizona immigration clone into law.  Think carefully about the consequences before you decide that Hickenlooper isn’t pure enough for you.

      • ThillyWabbit says:

        Have you read his “jobs plan?”

        And I have no reason to believe he will be the partisan bastard he’d need to be to affect the redistricting process anyway. The legislature is far more important.

        • This isn’t a “meh” year for elections – the Governor has a decent amount of influence in the redistricting process; without both chambers of the Legislature and the Governor’s office, redistricting will be less than pleasant.  Hickenlooper doesn’t need to be a partisan bastard if he’s got the Legislature writing the map, but McInnis will be a partisan bastard opposing a fairly drawn map if the last redistricting is any measure.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          I knew Hickenlooper when he was a geologist and I was writing oil and gas accounting software so I have a personal history with the man.

          I went through a similar kind of disillusionment with Udall over Iraq.  The sellout of progressive positions on the war was almost intolerable to me but Republicans rescued me by nominating such an obnoxious candidate in Bob Schaffer that I had no choice but to hold my nose and vote for Udall which in hindsight I am glad I did.  Udall isn’t my favorite politician but Schaffer would have done everything possible to scuttle health care reform.  I’m glad now that I didn’t let my purity desires get in the way of voting for the better of the two.

  3. OneEyedOwl says:

    and see why the regs are necessary. Why is he catering to the oil and gas crowd? They’ll never vote for him.

    If he keeps this up, I might not, either. Who are the third-party candidates for gov?

  4. CrazyOkie says:

    to walk the streets.  I can’t believe he would piss off such a huge core group of the democratic party.  Is he expecting the Denver Petroleum Club members to help out with his campaign?

  5. Hickenlooper can safely ignore the environmental movement because its leader, the Sierra Club, won’t call the administration to account for its incompetent response:

    So where is the Sierra Club focusing its attention? Last Tuesday, the Obama administration said that they will proceed with offshore drilling after a temporary ban. The Sierra Club issued a press release saying “It’s encouraging to see the Obama administration taking steps to improve safety regulations for offshore drilling.”

    The newly spineless Sierra Club should be saying “No more drilling, deepwater or otherwise, until the Materials Management Service gets its regulatory act together and Congress withdraws the $71M cap.”

    Not all environmental groups are silent:

    1) Center for Biological Diversity exposed Ken Salazar for granting new drilling permits after he said there was a moratorium.

    2) Food & Water Watch filed suit against Salazar to force the shutdown BP’s Atlantis, the second largest deepwater rig in the Gulf of Mexico, after a former BP employee warned that it was not fit for operation.

    3) National Resources Defense Council joined Jerry Nadler and Jim Oberstar to demand OSHA stop acting as a front for BP and require appropriate protective gear for cleanup workers.

    To all Sierra Club members: call and find out where the backbone went.


    Jane Hamsher, Sierra Club Chooses Corporate Sponsorship Over Grassroots Activists, HuffingtonPost.com, 6/16/2010 01:14 PM, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

  6. You Liberals should’ve ran Commissioner Art Goodtimes for Governor!

    Not this right-winger named Hickenlooper….

  7. bjwilson83 says:

    Dems are running scared and they’re content to just put forward their most electable candidate. Welcome to the world of establishment politics. Republicans have been suffering from this disease for a number of years already.

    • redstateblues says:

      Meet Sen. Udall, Rep. Perlmutter, Rep. Markey, and Gov. Ritter.

      • bjwilson83 says:

        if you define “working” as getting elected. Are you guys happy with how far they’ve had to move to the center and how much they’ve had to sell out their base?

        • redstateblues says:

          representing a wide range of voters with different values and political ideologies. I’m not at all concerned with ideological purity, and I don’t think that any party necessarily has a monopoly on good ideas.

          I think that when it stopped “working” for Republicans was when they decided ideological purity was more important to them than putting up the best possible candidate.

            • Steve Harvey says:

              which is why it comes as no surprise that you know nothing about it.

              It began with the cooptation of the evangelical movement by Republican political strategists, leading to a take-over of the party by that same evangelical movement, and an alienation of the broad middle which doesn’t like ideological extremism. The newest incarnation is the Tea Party, which has been pushing Republican primary candidates so far to the extreme ideological fringes that they become non-viable in the general election.

              The two political parties in America, for a long time in the post WWII era (and throughout my childhood and youth), were famous for being barely distinguishable, both racing toward the middle. That’s the natural logic of a two-party system; the party that can capture the exact middle of the political spectrum is the party that wins (since whichever side of it the other party claims, it will have a slightly smaller share of the electorate).

              Of course, this is an oversimplification, since the political “spectrum” is multi-dimensional rather than two-dimensional, and capturing an aggregate or averaged middle on all dimensions is much more complicated than capturing an absolute middle on two. But the general principle still holds.

              When parties become overzealously ideological, they banish themselves to at least temporary irrlevance, by losing access to the middle. The Democratic swing to the far left in the 1960s and 70s, due to the overexuberance of the “hippy” movement and related political movements, gave us Reagan and the era of conservativism that he inaugurated. The excesses of Bush, Cheney, the evangelical theocrats gave us Obama and a complete reversal of fortunes in Colorado. In an unusually rapid fluctuation, the perceived excesses of Obama have given us the tea-party anarchist-lights, whose sudden flare of absurdly dysfunctional extremism with cause as quick a reaction back in the other direction.

              We seem, in fact, to have hit a period of particular ideological volatility, with the back and forth between excesses and reactions being far more rapid than the historical norm. It may be indicative of a threshold, and the reaction to it; America is long overdue to join the rest of the developed world in the intelligent use of government to address market failures of various sorts, and to pragmatically promote human welfare over zealously pursuing ideological purity of one stripe or the other.

              • bjwilson83 says:

                As far as I know, the Republican Party has been filled with squishy moderates like George Bush, who promoted big government spending policies just like the most adamant liberals. And they’re still fighting Tea Party candidates (just look at Norton, Greyson, Lowden, etc.).

                Also, it comes as a surprise that you think this is an “unusually rapid fluctuation” since Obama getting elected (and now his failures as President) are the biggest story in recent Democrat Party history. The utter and complete incompetency of this socialist who got elected on platitudes and bromides has provoked a sharp turn to the right.

        • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

          This is a state that, at least in the last 10 years, elects moderate candidates. Some Democrats have been more liberal than others (like Mark Udall), but they’ve won statewide because they were closer to the center than the candidates put forth by Republicans. It would be interesting to see what voters would do with a far-left Democrat and a far-right Republican as their choices, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. The far-left and the far-right may not be totally happy with their candidates, but elections are about finding the person that everyone likes best — not just the fringes.  

          • bjwilson83 says:

            although in the past (before the big money rolled into town) they’ve leaned to the right. I don’t think any of the candidates for governor or senator are really out on the fringes though (well except some things from Norton). As much as I dislike McInnis he stands a good chance of getting elected.

            • ThillyWabbit says:

              You have a short gubernatorial memory.

              Since 1950, Democrats have held the governor’s office 10 times, while Republicans have held it 7 times.

              Since 1975, Democrats have held the governor’s office 7 times, while Republicans have held it 2 times.

              That would be a lean to the left.

              • bjwilson83 says:

                Colorado is normally a red state.

                • Steve Harvey says:

                  Thilly points out that the Governor’s office has been predominantly Democratic for the past sixty years, and even more so for the past 35, and you respond that “Colorado is normally a red state.” No argument, no support for the statement, just an empty assertion. (I could defend your statement, actually, even though it’s not the kind of statement anyone with any sense of politics or history would ever make, but that’s beside the point).

                  What does “normally” mean in political history? Wasn’t the South “normally” Democratic? That is, until it wasn’t. George Will, a conservative with a brain, likes to say something like, “history keeps repeating itself, until it doesn’t.” His point is that trends change completely, on a regular basis.

                  Colorado doesn’t belong to one party or the other “normally,” for a variety of reasons, and there is no justification for saying that it is “normally” Republican today. The governor’s office, both houses of the state legislature, the Secretary of State’s office, five of seven congressman, and our two U.S. Senators, are all Democratic. (Unsurprisingly, “normal” means to BJ-diot “that which is least in evidence”).

                  Demographic shifts can dramatically change the political composition of states. Colorado has had a huge, sustained, and continuing influx of liberals from, for instance, California, permanently shifting its political center of gravity. “Normal” is a particularly irrelevant word to apply to states in the midst of such demographic transitions.

                  Analyzing historical trends and current realities is the opposite of “spin.” It’s the basis for an informed and well-reasoned understanding.

              • Libertad says:

                Its 2010 and the peoples are fired up.

                If they still have a pay check or profits from their ventures they are generally holding on to much less earnings while taking it in the shorts with higher costs driven by anti consumer policies and higher taxes from the political left.

  8. That’s the way capitalism works.

    It’s also similar to the reason that Sen Bennet voted against the Sanders amendment to strip 35 billion in tax breaks. The Senator stated Saturday that he did so because the amendment included gutting natural gas projects that would impact employment in Colorado.

    • wade norris says:

      the money from the tax loophole that Sanders was closing was not going to just vanish and take jobs with it,

      it was going to redirect that money to energy conservation projects which create new jobs as well.

      To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to eliminate big oil and gas company tax loopholes, and to use the resulting increase in revenues to reduce the deficit and to invest in energy efficiency and conservation.

      Either way, the worlds 3 biggest companies are Oil Companies who have been having the most profits in the history of the world over the past 5 years.

      And with the oil disaster in the gulf – i am all in favor of redirecting money to a new direction.

    • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

      It’s been proven again and again that regulations in Colorado had NOTHING to do with any reduced drilling or jobs from drilling. Oil and Gas companies even admitted that regulations had nothing to do with it.

  9. SaveCoH2O says:

    The Mayor will say what ever the group he is in front of wants to hear. When he get called on it he claims he never said what he said or claims it is all part of some big political attack. This method may have worked when running for Mayor but he is in a whole new league now.

    • ThillyWabbit says:

      (to Libtard, so I forgive you for missing it!)

      Not ready for prime time. He had better start letting the very capable professionals who work for his campaign do their jobs, or he’s going to become a brewpub owner again sooner than he thinks.

  10. JO says:

    IF, as evidence begins to suggest, Mad Hatters succeed in capturing Republican lines on the ballot, then it must seem safe — even a good idea — for Democrats to step into the new void of the “moderate-right,” on the assumption that the traditional Democratic constituency has no alternative candidate(s) on the ballot. All the more so since party labels long ago became largely irrelevant in the era of voting for/marketing the candidate rather than the party.

    Presumably the issue then becomes whether enough left-leaning Democrats simply stay home in November (or just leave some lines unmarked out of disgust), thereby defeating the efforts of de facto Republicans- running-as-Democrats (newly christened “moderate Democrats”) to capture the new “center” which has moved several degrees to the right while also holding some portion of the left.

    Win or lose, Mad Hatters had a significant influence, and the Oil Barrel Polka plays on and the corporatocracy thrives (after a fashion).

  11. Vitelius says:

    Hick’s weak campaign so far kind of makes me wonder if he really wants to be the gov or not.  

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.