Now, Gov. “Frackenlooper,” It’s Officially Getting Ridiculous

One of the bigger stories in Colorado politics last week revolved around a radio ad recorded by Gov. John Hickenlooper on behalf of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. This ad sparked controversy after environmental groups objected to its carefully-worded statement that Colorado has “not had one instance of groundwater contamination associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing” since new drilling protections were passed several years ago. Environmentalists contend that this verbiage was designed to mislead about numerous documented instances of groundwater contamination related to oil and gas operations.

On Friday, a sort-of apology from Hickenlooper to these organizations, saying he should have consulted them before airing the ad, failed to acknowledge the underlying problem with Hickenlooper’s statement: the fact that it was grossly misleading about the ongoing hazards of oil and gas drilling in Colorado. Hickenlooper clarified Friday that he was only referring to “the actual fracking…the immediate frack,” but that “clarification” had the effect of underscoring the original misleading statement–which remains on the air to the best of our knowledge.

And then, over the weekend, we were forwarded this KUNC radio interview:

Can’t see the audio player? Click here.

Where, 1:07 into the interview, Gov. Hickenlooper says this about fracking fluids:

HICKENLOOPER: You can eat this–the CEO of Halliburton took a big swig of this thing. And not to be outdone, I took a swig of it myself.

Presumably, Gov. Hickenlooper “took a swig” of Halliburton’s fracking fluid product called CleanStim, which we reported on last August–though in the AP report we read then, Halliburton’s CEO Dave Lesar pointedly did not drink the fracking fluid, handing it off to another executive instead. CleanStim, as Hickenlooper said like reading from a script, is indeed composed of chemicals “sourced from the food industry,” though many of those chemicals are still considered hazardous on CleanStim’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

“CleanStim’s” biggest problem? According to the Houston Business Journal, it’s only a small fraction of all the “fracking” chemicals sold today. There’s no requirement in Colorado or anywhere else that “CleanStim” or another newer “food grade” fracking fluid actually be used, and we’ve been unable to find any sales figures to demonstrate how much “CleanStim” is actually being used in Colorado compared to, say, whatever the gaspatch worker in Durango showed up at the emergency room covered in a few years ago that almost killed his nurse.

And according to the MSDS, “food grade” can still very much mean hazardous.

So folks, unless Gov. Hickenlooper is able to prove that every well being drilled and hydraulically fractured in Colorado is using CleanStim or another new fracking fluid you can supposedly “take a swig of,” there’s only one way to back up his clear implication. He should choose a drilling site at random, go there, and take a big pull of whatever they’re actually using in that well!

Failing that or some other trust-restoring development, we may be forced to conclude soon that a Democratic governor is knowingly and wilfully misleading the people of Colorado.


43 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Car 31 says:

    Hick is going out of his way to make the oil and gas industry feel loved and welcomed in the state. I believe he is coming at this more from an economic development, “we need the money for the state so I don’t need to take a political stand on raising revenue” point of view. Hick is a good economic developer, and while that is important in this state, appeasing corporations is not the only economic generator in Colorado.

    The factual reality is this: the industry monitoring of what happens with fracking fluids underground is negligible at best; inspection and monitoring of what goes into the ground and the resulting impacts is nonexistent; the industry polices itself, which is not a good thing.

    The Governor can continue to make the industry feel welcome without drinking the fluid. He needs start talking about the protections afforded to the people of Colorado as much as he speaks about the benefits of this industry.


    • DavidThi808 says:

      Why is he bending over backwards for the one industry that is significantly damaging the state? I don’t see him putting in this effort for any other industry.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      fracked . . .

      And it’s about . . .

      He needs start talking about the protections afforded to the people of Colorado as much as he speaks about the benefits of this industry.

      two years too early for this to enter into any consideration . . . until then, get used to the new governor O&G lobbyist, same as the old Governor (Owens).

      • Car 31 says:

        Wouldn’t it be nice if Hickenlooper put his voice to a public service announcement advocating Coloradans work together to update necessary state infrastructure instead of advocating for the o/g industry? Or a PSA about the importance of education funding? Or one about how we need to all continue to sacrifice (yes, including those state and federal tax benefits for oil gas) since we’re not in a strong economic recovery yet?

        I’ll be the first to admit the oil and gas industry pays millions and millions of dollars into the state coffers that allows the state to do things we never would be able to without oil and gas.

        But, it would be nice (in happy, happy, fantasy land) if our Gov spoke for the people and not the industry. The industry always cries that they’ll move and go elsewhere, but, ya know what, they don’t and they won’t. I wish Hickenlooper wouldn’t buy into that straw man as easily as he has been.  

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          Crickets were the only thing you heard during the Proposition 103 debate.  The Silence of the Manchurian Oilman on issues that are important to Progressives.

        • cunninjo says:

          Two reasons O&G companies won’t go anywhere else: First, we have the oil and gas. And as long as extracting it is profitable, there will be O&G companies here to extract it. Second, they’re already extracting oil and gas from everywhere else that has it, so they can’t simply shift their business somewhere else.  

      • wade norris says:

        noticeably absent, any support from elected officials.

  2. ajb says:

    The presence of an MSDS listing isn’t, by itself, evidence of toxicity.

    For example, here’s the MSDS for sand.

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      “I’ve got no appetite for any tax increases, but that minty money fresh taste of fracking additives,  . . . (only not any of the 99% of that shit that is honestly harmful) . . . it’s like an O&G industry party in my mouth!”

  3. Pita says:

    My frackin’ fluid tastes better than your frackin’ fluid…mine comes right out of the pipe…

  4. JFrackenlooper says:

    Just a taste.  What’s the uproar about?  

  5. Gilpin Guy says:

    but does the commercial even reference the compromise that he is talking about?  It seems like there is a disconnect between what he purports to celebrate and the central message of the commercial.

  6. brio says:

    I’ve long been a fan of Hickenlooper’s, and for the most part still am.  But I guess it’s true what they say, while you can take the geologist out of the petroleum industry, you can’t take the petroleum out of the geologist.  He seems to have a massive blind spot on this issue.  To his credit, I suppose, I don’t recall him ever really billing himself as an environmentalist.  Clearly, he’s not one.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      or someone who would find a great judge who is a registered Democrat for the Colorado Supreme Court is he got a chance to nominate one.

      Upon closer examination, he appears to have a lot of blind spots.  I don’t think I’d want to have him behind the wheel if we needed to go anywhere.

      • brio says:

        The governor doesn’t get to find a new justice, he has to choose from three nominees.  The other two nominees were Frederick Martinez and Patrick O’Rourke.  Should he have chosen one of them?  I am not asking snarkily; other than having litigated once against O’Rourke a long time ago, I don’t know any of the three.

        But overall, yes, Hickenlooper is relatively centrist/pragmatic/call it what you will.  His candidacy was met with great excitement among Dems, at a time that it was assumed it would be a difficult election.  Enter Maes, etc., and we could have gotten Barney Frank elected.  Regardless, intractable budget issues would have largely tied most anyone’s hands on, say, education.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          Picking from 3 would mean that you picked the best person which is a defensible argument.

          The odd thing for me is that Ritter was never embraced by the Democratic elite but he seemed to be willing to take unpopular stances like the property tax for schools because he believed in progressive positions.  Ritter walked the talk but nobody warmed up to him.

          The way things are structured now any criticism of Hickenlooper can be met with a dismissal as partisan and unhealthy.  It is hard to deny being partisan when it is so obvious that Republicans have done nothing that could even remotely be considered conciliatory.  If anything they appear to be even more extreme and unapproachable.  The bi in bi-partisan is supposed to stand for two so how can you be bi-partisan if there aren’t two parties who are willing to work with each other.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          How were the three selected for final nomination?  If it was a panel then how were they appointed to the panel and how big was the pool they chose from?  I’m curious about the process.

  7. G Pulviczek says:

    A popular governor Hick

    Tried to impress with a devious trick

       “Drink frack fluid, it’s food –

        It will make you feel good!”

    But now all he makes us is sick.

      • G Pulviczek says:

        And I wrote it.  Wish I had not been forced to.  I like Hick personally, but this is just obscene.  If we wanted an anti-environmental crusader, we could have gotten one for free.

        As I alluded in one of my other ditties, I think he has mistaken his “landslide” over the weakest opposition in living memory for a mandate.

        Personally, I’m hoping for a primary.  Just to hold his feet to the fire and get him to move back to the progressive side.  Not seeing much of his progressive side these days…

        • Diogenesdemar says:

          why not a short story, a reverse Robert Louis Stevenson . . .

          A mild-mannered and seldom seen or heard from politico — Governor Hide . . . one day drinks a strange potion of unknown origin or composition . . .  he finds himself temporarily transformed into the outspoken O&G super-apologist — Mr. Frackyl.  It doesn’t end well . . .

          Mr. Frackyl and Governor Hide.?

          No?  How about “Frankenlooper” . . . the story of a mad geology professor, and the monster he creates?

  8. dmindgo says:

    for all I care.  The fluid is only part of the problem and doesn’t make fracking safe.  It breaks up seams and lets flow all of the lovely heavy metals and other benefits in the ground.  Those can migrate to your local drinking water as easily as any fracking fluid

    • ajb says:

      That’s new to me and not what I’d expect to come out of sedimentary rocks. If it were near a uranium deposit, that might be different, but the environments that result in deposits of oil/gas and uranium are very different (oxidizing vs reducing) and unlikely to occur in the same area.

      Some other geologist may know more about it…

  9. cincinnatus says:

    As to the composition of fracking chemicals, note that almost a year ago a report of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce committee compiled MSDSs from various companies and found that many chemicals actually in use are known or suspected carcinogens, are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and/or are hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

    For example:

    From 2005-2009 fracking companies in CO used 1,147,614 gallons of compounds containing 2-Butoxyethanol.  2-BE is the chemical the EPA found in water wells in Pavillion, WY.

    From 2005-2009 fracking companies in CO used 1,544,388 gallons of compounds containing at least one carcinogen.

    From 2005-2009 fracking companies in CO used 375,817 gallons of compounds containing at least one chemical regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act.*

    * the Safe Drinking Water Act does not apply to fracking due to the (Cheney) Energy Policy Act of 2005.

    Full report:

    Note also that the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board in a November, 2011 report “reiterates its recommendation that diesel fuel should be eliminated in hydraulic fracturing fluids.”

    Full report:

    There is an increasing amount of evidence as to A) what is being used in fracking and B) why it should not be used in fracking.

  10. ArapaGOP says:

    That this is how bipartisan cooperation is rewarded.

    • RedGreen says:

      If Hick were a Republican senator with the occasional bout of bipartisan cooperation, he would have been driven from office. Why are Democrats such wimps?

      • Diogenesdemar says:

        pisses me off about the Democrats in this state . . . where in the hell are the rest of those cozy, comfortable Democratic “leaders”?  Why aren’t any of them publicly speaking out?  I’ve got to think that it’s much easier for Hickenfracker, er, Frackenlooper to play the Republican since there’s nothing but silence to his left.  

    • G Pulviczek says:

      More “deliberate backstabbing.”

      Oops, did I say that out loud?

    • ClubTwitty says:

      Or that he’s a Dem and Hick is the real GOP?  Or maybe a GOPer handed the frack juice to Hick?  

      We are talking about drinking frack juice and a radio interview, right?  So, what parties are involved here?  

      A couple more questions…

      Are you just on auto pilot, or do you actually produce that dribble after doing something that feels to you like ‘thought’?

      Do you get paid by the word?  

  11. DKOColo says:

    When I first met the Governor, it was in the hallway by the escalators just after the 2011 JJ Dinner in Denver.  I had just been elected co-chair of the Progressive Democrats of Colorado and took the opportunity to introduce myself and it was before I knew anything about any “position” he had on fracking, although I had written about it in Park County over the prior year.  So I asked.

    Twenty minutes later, people were looking at their watches wondering when the Governor would bring an end to the conversation.  He seemed to hope that the more he talked, the more support he’d receive.

    “What’s not Progressive,” he spun, and while I wasn’t prepared to stage a debate with the Governor at the end of a very long day, I did.  His focus was on giving larger fines when there are problems, but very supporting of the process, ignoring the idea that once a problem happens, it’s too late.  

    And damn.  Nothing has sunk in since, it seems.  I guess it takes a long time to change the mental geology and appreciate that there are those of us Colorado natives who have no interest in bending over to the oil and gas industry.  

    Progressive?  Let’s start with oil and gas speculators on Wall Street rather than use the high price of gas as a shield which is unfounded and supposed to be regulated by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.

    Governor Hickenlooper, Sir.  Might I humbly suggest that it isn’t even KoolAid you’re being served.

    But the last thing we want to have to say is “don’t drink the water.”

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      His focus was on giving larger fines when there are problems, but very supporting of the process, ignoring the idea that once a problem happens, it’s too late. В 

      . . . that’s why god created a superfund.

      Hick needs lot’s of public outcry in the media from his left, his tendency is always to drift right.

      Thanks DKO.  

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